Opinion: Jay Islaam On Online Marketing For Comedians (And Other Creatives): Page 2 of 2

 6. Play to your strengths

Are you a great joke writer? Then start making your mark on Twitter.

Do you produce hilarious memes? Then get posting on Instagram.

Are you an articulate debater? Then write a regular blog.

Musical comedian? Performance poet? Get on YouTube!

And if, like me, you’ve got a voice for radio then start podcasting!

But you cannot and should not do them all!

It’s better to focus on just one or two social media platforms that you enjoy and play to your strengths. Don’t dilute the quality of your output by spreading yourself too thin.


7. Don’t worry too much about joke theft

Many comedians have felt the sting of having their kudos usurped by various online entities with the words “Lad” “Bible” “Viral” or “George Takei” in the title. (FUCK YOU George Takei!! You no-talent ham. I wish you’d died instead of Nimoy!)

Out in the real world, of office jobs and corporate ladders, the most ignoble and self-serving bastards are always stealing the credit for other people’s work. You can’t expect the arts to somehow be immune.

You can and should take steps to make it harder for amoral swindlers to steal the acclaim that’s rightfully yours. If / when it does happen, I won’t try and assuage your anger with any “just see it as a compliment” bullshit. You’ve been burgled and have every right to be upset. But it’s an essentially unavoidable occupational hazard. A mere drop in an ocean of unpleasantness that permeates the internet. Try not to dwell on it.


8. Find and cultivate the right audience online

Not everyone will find you or your work interesting. Some will actively hate it. If you can’t make peace with that reality, you don’t really belong in the public eye. But if you can appreciate and accept this simple truth, you’re ready to start finding and cultivating the audience that will be most appreciative of you and your art.

Once you have an accurate understanding of your brand identity (see #1 above), you’ll have a better idea about who you’ll appeal to most, so you can start reaching out to them.

If you’re a cheeky Northerner then your low-hanging fruit will be Lee Mack and Peter Kay fans.

Are you a left-wing firebrand on stage? Then start targeting the Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders supporters.

Angry black man? Luckily for you, there are plenty of politically correct posers willing to wallow in white guilt and fake laugh at your obsession with prejudice.


9. Value your fans…

… or, more specifically, make your fans feel like you value them.

This is “Sales 101” stuff really. “But I’m not a salesman, I’m an artist!” many of you will protest. That’s fine. If toiling in obscurity and poverty, but being adored and admired after your death, is the dream then good luck to you.

If you live in the real world, however, then you need to show respect to the public who pay your bills. Respond to private messages. Follow people back on Twitter. Answer questions and comments with charm, patience and good humour.


10. Pay for online advertising… wisely

Yes, you should consider paying for social media advertising. But, since most of you will have limited budgets, you’ll need to ensure you’re using your money effectively.

I’ve seen comedians pay for Facebook adverts telling the world they’ve won some minor award or that they’re performing at some charity show. That’s just massaging your own ego. The public doesn’t care. And industry folk almost certainly already know.

The point of advertising is to reach a demographic that:

    a) doesn’t already know you;

    b) you can’t reach organically;

    c) will put some money back into your pocket.

“Return on investment” is the name of the game.

So, realistically, the only times you should be paying for advertising will be when you are promoting a show that you’re producing yourself, or if you’re selling a product (DVDs, apps, music etc.). And targeting that advertising carefully, to ensure only the most receptive potential punters see it, is exceptionally important.


11. BONUS TIP: Shun the haters

Showbiz is burdened with some of the bitchiest, bile-filled, bitter and entitled underachievers you will ever have the misfortune to meet. And social media is infested with some of the most heinous examples of humanity you will ever come across. Many of them with a seemingly infinite amount of free time to waste spreading their negativity.

These people will prey upon your instinctive politeness to draw you into long debates and diatribes that are of no value to you. These are exactly the people for whom that BLOCK button was invented. Remember: the trolls and haters have no right to your time or energy. Any time you waste even thinking about these people, let alone engaging with them, is time you’re not using engaging with and entertaining the audience that is worth cultivating. So fuck ‘em. BLOCK. BLOCK. And BLOCK again.


Jay Islaam is a multi-award-winning comedian, writer and broadcaster. His debut solo show, Travels with Autism, will premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2016. You can find him on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.



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