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Twitter and Theater

June 2, 2009

Twitter is so new that no one really knows what to do with it. The one thing that people do know is that it is big, so big they want in on it. (For more background check my post on Twitter’s growth.)

I have observed (online) many theaters across the country trying to utilize Twitter to communicate with people. So far the biggest problem is arts organizations seem to have very little idea of what they are doing, what will succeed or even what conversation they want to have.

Let me take a step back and explain what twitter is (if you don’t know). Twitter is micro-blogging. 140 characters to send a tweet out into the ether. Others who are on Twitter have the ability to “follow” you, which means they will get updates every time you send a tweet. Now you can’t say a ton in these 140 characters so I have found that the only way this starts to make sense is when you put many of these micro posts together and see what story they start to tell.

While following many of these organizations on Twitter, I have noticed a few broad categories of how theaters are trying to use it to engage with audiences. Below are real examples of three major ways I have been seeing Twitter used.

1. “The ad”

  • There are many theaters sending out tweets to try to sell tickets by offering discounts.

fordstheatreGet $25 tix to weekend perfs of Civil War in April. Use code ECOUPON at…

thehousetheatreWe are offering $13.50 tickets for Rose and the Rime FRIDAY 3/27 for #wtd. Buy em at use the code “wtd” !!!

2. “Information”

  • These posts offer some interesting bits press and PR from shows.

GuthrieTheater“Greta Oglesby finds room to stretch herself in TC Theater”. Read this PiPress interview with Greta Oglesby:

atcwebCheck out the HEDWIG Music Video!

3. Insiders look

  • These tweets try to actively engage you in some way with what is going on in the organization.

remybumppoWe have the best stage manager in the world. See how Baleigh keeps us together at http://remybumppo.blogspot….

TimeLineTheatreQuiet before the excitement. Theater dark and empty. Costumes being pressed and prepared in the dressing room. We’re ready. Anticipation!

From the posts above, the third way of tweeting I find most effective because we are really being pulled into something going on. There is an attempt at connection and these tweets feel much more personal. In the second examples, using links can also be pretty effective, and do help create a more in depth experience.  Lastly, the group of ads don’t seem very compelling, have the least to do with any kind of real communication and are really just a sales pitch.

I don’t know if there is just one way to connect using this medium, and maybe a combination of all these approaches above could work for theaters. However, I do believe that Twitter could be a good social networking tool for organizations provided they have the time to learn what works and what doesn’t and know what kind of conversation they want to have.

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