Friday, October 9, 2009

Does Twitter Work for Theatre Companies?

I’ve spent some time looking at this issue, and as you can see from the left hand side of my web page, I’ve subscribed to Twitter. Does it work? Is it a flash in the pan? Well, I want to hear your comments.

But I did do some research. According to PEW, the largest demographics of Twits are 18-34… no surprise there, really, though it is interesting to note that only 1% of Twits are under 18. They are overwhelming white (81%), and childless. Sadly, they tend to have less money. Equally distributed among men and women. And most do not have a graduate degree, though equally distributed between HS graduates and bachelor’s degrees.

Tuesday is the most active Tweet day, only 5% of accounts have more than 100 followers; 20% are never used.

Twits tend to sign up then drop their account: 60% last less than a month. The majority, about, 40% use it to keep in touch with friends; 28% use it as a pass-thru tool to update their status on social network sights such as facebook and their blogs; and about 25% use it for “news”. According to Linkedin (okay, maybe not the most stringent of researchers) only 8% of businesses view Twitter as a “very effective” marketing tool. (I tend to agree.) In fact, the main people touting the effectiveness of Twitter appear to be marketers themselves. How to effectively use social marketing is endless fodder for marketing individuals blogs, twits, and articles. But do people use Twitter to get info about what to see and do? Does it work? Who does it reach? If you’ve got a success story, leave a comment and tell us!

So if I’m not a fan, why am I doing it? Good question. First, I put a lot of time into researching it and setting up an account, so I’m planning on using it for a little while to get the full experience. Second, I’m wondering if the tips and tricks I’ve read will make a difference in my experience. Not everyone researches how to use a tool before they go out and start hammering. And third, sometimes a marketing campaign is designed towards depth, and sometimes towards breadth. We’re currently in a breadth mode, so even a handful of new contacts, relationships, and audience members are a victory. And we’re using it to create depth to our outreach: our twitter updates are focused on real tools, ideas, and inspirations rather than bland, reiterative marketing of current activities.

It's also important to consider your audience demographics and buying cycle. Is this your crowd? Do you want them to be? Tweats are very ephemeral-- they come and go as quick reminders with no lasting impression. But (perhaps) if timed to your audiences' buying cycle, the nudge can come at just the right time. As long as you don't overdo it and the twits become a nag. For that reason, I've focused away from our current show.

Through my Twitter research, I did find a few tips that I thought I’d share:

1. Don’t sell on twitter, engage
2. Follow and respond to other’s twits
3. If you don’t have any news, give them someone else’s
4. Update. Every other day is too little, 5x a day too much
5. Keep a notepad to write down twits for the future.
6. The number of followers is not as important as the quality: it’s social.
7. Have a goal and an identity for your twitter page, make a plan to reach it

How to Expand Your Following:
1. Post on your website and blog
2. Respond to someone else’s twit, they may start to follow yours
3. Put your twitter in the signature of your email

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