Garv Malik, a stand-up comedian, is one of those social media creators who has chosen to not give in to the pressure of the social media algorithm and is prioritizing the quality of his content. He left his job as an Assistant Manager at Shuttl, and after working as Kunal Kamra’s manager, started stand-up comedy full-time.
With the pandemic and the shift to online platforms, Garv has been posting content online and creating his audience there. In SocialBoat’s conversation with him, he talks about the effect of the algorithm on the creativity of creators, and ways to bridge the two.
Here are five insights from our conversation with Garv that might help you in finding your audience-
1. Don’t take orders from the ‘algorithm boss.’
The sad truth is that creativity is seldom consistent. When asked about being consistent, Garv told us that even though he is aware of the drawbacks, he doesn’t post consistently. “At least not posting every day is better than vomiting all over your profile,” he says.
Garv believes that the whole point of ‘doing things at your own pace’ would be lost if one has to stick to an unfruitful schedule governed by the algorithm.
“I understand that working without a boss is great but real human bosses are better than algorithm bosses.”
2. Identify your audience and focus.
All kinds of jokes are not liked by all. You need to find the audience you like, resonate with them, and know your preferred domain. After writing and performing jokes on various topics throughout the years, Garv seems to have found his focus on jokes around startups, finances, the stock market, etc.
He tells us that he has chosen these topics because out of all his friend circles, the ones from this domain are the only ones that he can “tolerate.”
Through experience and experiment, with his jokes and with their reception, he has figured out what topics his comedy will revolve around for now.
3. Use the platform your audience is at.
Living up to his comic temperament, he tells us that Twitter and LinkedIn have worked better than Instagram for him because his “writing skills are better than his dancing skills.”
Perhaps he has a better following on the two platforms because he found his audience there. As mentioned, his humor revolves around startups, finances, the stock market, etc, and he has managed to find the correct platform to reach the consumers of his content.
When Clubhouse had become instantly popular, Garv experimented with that as well and found a good community there as well. He also learned how to perform on an audio-only platform.
4. The right content for the right people.
Garv has managed to create a balance between his content and his audience. He tries to understand what topics would interest a particular group of people and performs accordingly.
He recalls an incident of a show in Delhi where only two people- a man and his daughter- came for the show. He was nervous and thought this wouldn’t work well but performed nonetheless, navigating through the content and molding it according to the audience members. Garv ended up performing for about an hour and both of them enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
5. Prioritize your creativity and let it breathe.
Garv tells us that the social media algorithm, especially Instagram's, is “killing the creative potential” of many creators. Even more so since the pandemic lockdown because with everything shifting online, maintaining and growing social media profiles has become important for performers.
“Algorithms induce pressure and anxiety, and when things don’t work, comedians end up putting content that they regret later.”
Garv aims to explore himself as a performer, and wishes his creativity to develop in such a way that he is not stuck or typecast in a one-dimensional zone. Nurturing the skill and the process is very important to grow as a performer.
“ I chose to not give in to the pressure. The goal is to find another way out other than consistency.”
Stand-up comedy is more of a live audience performance and shifting it to the social media platforms has required adjustments. For a performer in the creative domain, however, content quality is the last thing that should be compromised. Listening to Garv talk about the pressures of social media algorithms and what it does to creators raises concerns of several talented voices being lost in the void. Garv has found other ways to accumulate his audience on social media by narrowing his focus on content and experimenting with platforms. This is giving him the space to better himself as a performer.
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