Social Media and Theatre: it’s ROE not ROI that matters!

It’s return on engagement and not return on investment that Devon Smith‘s research shows is possibly the best way of considering social media and its current use by theatres in the United States.  I’m betting it’s much the same here.

Building audiences – which for many marketing managers equates to selling tickets – is really a mid to long-term strategy, and that’s about building relationships – building loyalty and long-term engagement between the organisation and individuals (near and far).  And for those hungry marketing managers/producers, Smith notes that you are going to sell tickets at your website, and it’s social media will assist in driving the traffic there.

Theatres in Brisbane and some further afield in regional Queensland are getting the social media message, albeit slowly.  Their websites invite visitors to follow via their Facebook pages,  Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels – to name the big three in social media.  Few yet have gone the way of the blog, which is a pity, as it’s a great way for a company to engage in conversation.  As Smith says in this smart slide presentation (below) given this week at the TCG (Theatre Communications Group) Conference in the US, a company blog linked to your website is a surefire way of managing conversation, whether or not they are saying good or bad things about you.  She notes that, of course, they will say bad things anyway, so why not manage it at a central point.  It’s archived too when it’s on your own site.

Check the last couple of slides for further resources on social media and theatre.

And here’s Leon Cain who is currently in rehearsal for La Boite Theatre’s next production I Love You Bro’! Leon will be posting an entry in the company’s YouTube Channel every day – this is the first.  Given the ubiquity of  YouTube – again see Smith’s facts and figures in the slide show – this is a clever strategy to engage with potential audiences and to spread the word about just what does go on backstage.  And, of course, the video blog (aka vlog) is another, perhaps even more engaging and personal way of  managing the conversation.  Good job La Boite!

View more presentations from Devon Smith.

Devon Smith’s blog: 24 Usable Hours – where numbers meet art

World Theatre Day – #wtd10 and Dame Jude Does the Honours

Dench at the 2007 BAFTAs
Image via Wikipedia

You’ve seen the teaser tweets (maybe), or perhaps you’ve heard about it, so here’s a heads-up that World Theatre Day 2010 is now just under 6 weeks away.  March 27 is the day on which theatre lovers around the world – companies, groups, and individuals – do something to celebrate or mark the day when theatre is foremost in our minds.  It’s a perfect time to start organising what you’re going to do, and to send it through to the blog, or to tweet about it, or send in to the Facebook fan page.  You are a fan and following World Theatre Day on Twitter, aren’t you?

One of the traditions is to read the annual address before the curtain, or to pin it up on a company notice-board, or just to read it yourself and let it inspire you and your tribe.  The 2010 World Theatre Day address is from Dame Judi DenchHere it is for you.

There’s lots that you can do on the day … while you’re reading the address from Dame Jude, have a look at the rest of the website and see if any ideas there strike your fancy.  Everyone’s madly busy most of the time, so the WTD10 organisers suggest you mark the day by incorporating an acknowledgment as part of your programming or daily routine.  What you need to do is let everyone know what you’re up to, promote it in your own community, and then share – images, video, tweets, whatever works for you.

Last year in from Brisbane there were video interviews with cast and audience members at the after-party for That Face (Queensland Theatre Company).  23rd Productions recorded voxpops with their cast and the audience of The Pilloman then playing.  XSentertainment on the Sunshine Coast did a flashmob at midday at Sunshine Plaza, and QSE held a free, open rehearsal.  Images and videos from events made their way through to the WTD Tumblog and that was only from local celebrations … theatre lovers in the US and the UK, in Brazil and India held parties, rallies, read the address, streamed readings … and … held parties.  Seems that’s a great way to do it!

Another thing you can do right now – push this post out to your networks – Facebook, Twitter etc.  The more the merrier!

World Theatre Day Goes Digital Again

This is the second year in which theatre lovers around the world have used online social networking apps to hook up, promote theatre, and have a generally good time celebrating the art form we all love.  World Theatre Day is held on March 27 each year, and last year Brisbane companies joined in with gusto.  This year, the global organisers are hoping more groups and individuals will come on board again for what turns out to be a very long day of celebrations.

In March 2009 NZ and Australia were among the first in the world to begin the global party on the stroke of midnight.  As the day extended others joined in from round the world and posted up images, audio files and videos via the WTD Tumblr.  This year there’s talk of Skype-hookups and live streaming of improv performances, even a bit of  invisible theatre on a couple of contentious political issues right now; someone wants to have a crack at internet censorship in Australia, for example.  Now that we all have smart phones, this is a distinct possibility.

The WTD blog site is the hub of all this activity, and it’s here that you can find ideas for your group as well as to read the history of World Theatre Day, which is sponsored by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).  By the way, it’s a tradition to have the WTD address (which is written each year by a prominent theatre person) read out before performances, alternatively to be posted in foyers and company bulletin boards on the day, or just generally acknowledged on theatre’s ‘one day of the year.’  Last year’s was written by Augusto Boal.  You can read Boal’s address on the ITI page.  I think Augusto would have approved of all this global networking – especially the invisible improv and political theatre that some UK and Aussie groups are cooking up.

This year a WTD Facebook page had over 500 800 fans the last time I looked. Why don’t you become one as well, and pass on the word via your own networks.  It would be wonderful to have theatre in Queensland well represented on Saturday March 27 for World Theatre Day.

Of course WTD has a Twitter stream @WTD10 and a hashtag #WTD10 if you post there.

The organising group had a ball last year in our own necks of the woods, enough to want to see the online celebrations of WTD continue, so we dipped our toes into the Google Wave app for our initial meetups earlier this year.  The upshot is that we as the dealers give you the ideas and the forums to publish, but you’re the pushers – you get the word out and do what you do in your own way.   Check out the blog, the FB, Twitter, and let us know what you are planning.  It’s even better if you integrate WTD into something you’re already working on; everyone is flat out, and the idea is not to do something additional, but to mark the day and share your celebrations.

Over to you!

PS   You can read a bit about how I got involved in a post on my own blog Groundling from last year.

Out of bed and on the job: David Burton (Interview 2)

David Burton

I was delighted to speak with David – Dave to his friends – Burton late last week about his playwrighting, and especially his latest work Lazarus Won’t Get Out of Bed.  I can tell from the outset that he is upbeat – excited even.  It was a good opening night the preceding evening – the buzz is good he tells me.  But as we talk I can see that he’s just as excited by the opportunities that are out there for a young playwright. “I can’t keep up; anyone who says there aren’t enough creative development opportunities or support programs for young writers is not trying hard enough, or not looking in the right places.” We go on to speak a lot about support during the course of our conversation; it becomes a theme almost. Continue reading “Out of bed and on the job: David Burton (Interview 2)”

World Theatre Day 2009: reflections on a (long-distance) tribal gathering

World Theatre Day 2009 has come and gone, but as the song lyrics go,  ‘the memories linger on.’  And the achievements do too. You can see what I mean at the World Theatre Day blog and its Tumblr feed of images and sounds of the celebrations around the globe. WTD got the online treatment for the first time this year – and it happened, as these things do, as a result of a conversation. Continue reading “World Theatre Day 2009: reflections on a (long-distance) tribal gathering”