Social media has been highlighted in the news recently thanks to its part in being used to organise the riots in England and in particular in London. Two men have even been handed 4 year sentences just for talking about starting a riot on Facebook. This shows just how powerful a medium it has become.
What does this have to do with theatres?
Theatre for many people is seen as the grand old entertainment medium that is being left behind by cinema, but the billions of pounds spend on London theatre tickets each year would clearly show that this is not the case.
One thing theatres are starting to do better though is to interact with their audiences via social media. Many of the major theatres such as Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Apollo, National Theatre, Barbican and Royal Opera House all have some kind of social media presence.
Facebook has about 750 million users and rising. People spend more time online on Facebook than they do doing anything else. By ‘liking’ or ‘friending’ your favourite theatre or theatre company it is possible to get up to the minute information about what is going on. Theatres can use this to build an online personality and provoke conversations about their shows that keep people coming back for more. Also it is possible for people to ‘check-in’ at the venue to tell their Facebook friends that they are there. It is not uncommon for theatres to offer exclusive offers for tickets through their Facebook page too. Certainly could be worth your time.
Twitter is a micro-blogging universe where people can post short comments that are sent out to everyone that has chosen to ‘follow’ them, meaning that they have decided that they want to receive these comments. Similarly to Facebook this provides an excellent way to stay in touch with what is going on at your favourite venue or even as a means to compare theatre tickets – @seatchoice
YouTube needs no introduction. This is one of the best ways to discover new shows and acts that you may be interested in. Want to see what the 25th Anniversary Les Miserables looks like? Just type it into YouTube and see. Many theatres are now posting footage of a recent or upcoming production to garner ever more interest through social sources.
There are literally thousands of blogs around which offer you interesting and valuable information, along with news, reviews, recommendations and interviews with the casts and crews, as well as clips from recent performances to whet your appetite to go and buy a ticket for yourself. Check out theatre’s own blogs, or critics and review blogs for analysis and recommendations.
In a recent data release by online stats calculator ‘statcounter.com’, StumbleUpon has become the number one social source for sharing news and videos online, knocking Facebook off its top perch. It is also currently the no.1 social referrer of traffic in the US. StumbleUpon is designed to allow you to share links or videos etc. as you ‘stumble’ around the web. It is not so big in the UK yet but it may be worth checking out for receiving recommendations in the future.
Modern theatre is embracing social media in a big way. How do you use social media to interact with your favourite theatres?