Conan O'Brien - an online sensation

Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien Photo by The Associated Press.

Timing is key in comedy and for at least one formerly unemployed talk-show host. While Conan O’Brien’s departure from “Tonight” was part of a sorry mess, it was exquisitely in sync with the growing influence of social media.

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Conan O'Brien

Team Coco’s adroit use of Twitter and Facebook in the months after O’Brien gave up his network TV platform gave him a direct pipeline to fans and new admirers, keeping him and his comic sensibility in a welcoming, computer-generated spotlight.

With Monday’s debut of his TBS show “Conan” (10 p.m.), O’Brien will learn how much being an online sensation can help foster late-night success in cable TV and in a new time slot.

“Let’s be clear about this: Conan O’Brien’s show will succeed if it’s good, and it will fail if it sucks,” said Josh Bernoff, co-author of “Empowered,” about using social networks in business. “Social media cannot change that. What it can change is the speed with which the message gets spread.”

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