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Testing the waters

May 31, 2009

Obviously, arts organizations are trying various techniques to reach people though Social Networking. I have highlighted some of them on this blog, and would like to pick out a few that I think are doing something interesting, and some that might be on the wrong track.

First up, from my “Going Mobile” post, Broadway in Chicago and their iPhone app. I can’t say if this is bringing them a huge amount of traffic, but I can say they have 44 reviews of the app on the iTunes store, most of which are positive. I don’t think this app is really connecting with the audience the way Social Networking should, because it feels a lot like a sales pitch. What I can say is that this makes Broadway in Chicago look like they really know their stuff and are on top of their game, so I would give them a point for really keeping on the cutting edge of things.

Second, lets look at “Texting at the Theater” , which talks about texting during the pre-show to rate how good the audience members look at “Reasons to be Pretty” on Broadway. As much as I like this show, this idea seems very much like a stunt to me. I think it misses the point of any dialogue, and just becomes a novelty that has little to do with the play. Now, I say all this not having been there to try it, so this is a very second hand opinion, but that’s how it strikes me.

Last, from my post “Broadway 2.0 Marketing” we have this piece by Gregory Schmidt about the show In the Heights:

“For example, the MySpace page for “In the Heights” features a blog with updates about the show, widgets that fans can embed in their own MySpace pages, a jukebox that plays songs from the show and several music videos from the cast. These include a parody of the song “Umbrella” called “Abuela,” and a spoof of “High School Musical” that features Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s lyricist and star, singing and dancing in Central Park.”

Mr. Schmidt goes on to talk about all the ways Lin-Manuel Miranda is connecting with the audience. This works not only because it is entertaining, but because it feels real. That is why this is the most effective of all the three attempts to engage with audiences. Audiences today want a real connection and transparency in these interactions. When things look false, or audiences are just being sold something, they will only engage so far. That’s why this campaign seems to be working very well while the others may not have seen any strong results.

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