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Matt Price tries to embrace social media

A year ago, an old friend of mine got in contact and told me that she is now a consultant in social media for business. We spoke for about an hour and a half on the phone. She told me about her new job and at the end of our conversation had explained all about the power of the internet. This power if properly harnessed would launch a comedian to the next level. After all, it worked for the US comics Dane Cook and Russell Peters. The trick, she claimed, is to not look as though you are trying too hard.

She then told me how much she would charge a client for such advice and I had to go and have a lie down. She earns a fortune, so there must be something in it, surely?

My mission over the last year has been to see if I can raise my internet profile. I admit that it started out as a joke at first, but has been surprisingly good fun and I have learned a lot. However, I'm still not sure exactly what I have achieved, or more importantly how.

To give an example, last week I stayed at a friend and fellow comedian's house after a gig. On Friday morning I was in the lounge, drinking coffee and watching his nine-month-old son. My friend said to me, ‘Watch this Matt.’ He held his son so that he was horizontal above his head and walked slowly across the lounge, singing the Aled Jones song, Walking In The Air. His son giggled hysterically.

My second thought, was ‘Oh, that is so cute.’ My first thought (which I didn't mention at the time) was that my friend really ought to film it and put it on YouTube with a link to his website. Short clips like that have more of a chance of going viral than anything much longer than a minute.

Babies and celebrities get the most views online. I admit that for a brief moment I was quit envious at the chances of self-promotion that could be generated seemingly without an agenda. Nonetheless, I felt it would be rude of me to ask to borrow his baby.

My attempts at going viral on YouTube have been half-hearted. I've managed to get over a thousand views of a clip showing a story that I am very proud of. The problem is that another clip, with material that makes me cringe, appears to have had a lot more views, even though I have done nothing to promote it on Twitter, Facebook or in emails. Does this mean that the internet has a life of its own? Or is my story about Steve Day just not very good?

My blog has what is politely described as a niche following. Even with the help of friends who tweet regularly, I still have nothing to really boast about and I get views of hundreds rather than thousands.

I am baffled by Twitter and have utmost admiration for Gary Delaney and Tony Cowards who make it work for them. The more cynical part of me hopes that by simply mentioning their names, that they will re-tweet this article, thus helping me in my quest for global domination. But even if they did, there is no guarantee that anyone will be bothered to read it.

I don't have the qualities required to really make a nuisance of myself. I should be spamming forums with YouTube clips and putting links in as many places as possible, tweeting six times a day, updating my Facebook status with the great gigs I am doing etc. I should be announcing after gigs that I am on Facebook and that I have a new podcast. So I may be partly to blame, if I don't become as popular as I could.

I'd like set up my own fan page on Facebook. There is, of course, the fear of nobody joining. Why should they? Facebook is an incredible phenomenon, but also incredibly irritating at times. The number of event invitations I receive is ridiculous to the point where I am unable to reply to most of them. So what would make me stand out?

The theory behind social media is very simple and based on the way in which people use the internet and it should be easy to tailor one's comedy product to suit those surfing the web. The problem, is that it relies on those people to really make it work. As much as I would like to take credit for every website view or podcast listener, even if I stack the odds in my favour by taking the advice of a social media guru, I don't think I can. Success is ultimately not down to me and all the theorising in the world won't make my jokes any funnier.

Published: 8 Oct 2010

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