Sunday, April 12, 2009

To Tweat or Not to Tweat

Twitter is the newest communications tool in the Arena Stage arsenal, and the more we use it, the more I am convinced it should be treated in the same manner as a blog, or perhaps a little more delicately. At its core, Twitter was created to send micro-blog messages to followers on a regular basis throughout the day, explaining what you are up to and your thoughts on current surroundings. Those who are avid users send several tweats per day, and the tweats of those that you follow aggregate on your homepage, or they are sent directly to a mobile device. Many organizations have created Twitter accounts but few have figured out how to successfully use this communications tool.

As a web 2.o application, the central idea behind Twitter is interaction, so it amazes me how many organizations use Twitter to simply push information, such as reviews, headlines and marketing promos. Remember, as I like to say, no one is interested in what a marketing director has to say. So keep it interesting, and try to make it as interactive as possible.

An alternate way of using Twitter could be having a senior member of your artistic staff set up a Twitter account, and have them twitter on their activities. Therefore, you won't have to worry about having a boring organizational voice, and the application can be used for what it was invented for -- to report on the activities of a single person. David Dower, Arena Stage's Associate Artistic Director, recently set up a Twitter account of his own where he twitters about his travels and his work on our productions. It has been embedded in the Arena Stage blog, and at any given moment, a patron can see what he is up to. Since he leads the artistic development team, his days are pretty interesting...much more so than mine. Really, who wants to know we just bought another ad in the newspaper?


Scott said...

Chad - We're experimenting with Twitter, and several of us have accounts. No genuine stats for moving people toward the box office, yet. Ironic: a surprising number of our Twitter-followers are...other arts orgs! We may be learning from each other, but we really need to be having conversations with the public. That's our goal. See you at TCG in June.

emarketed said...

to tweat or not to tweat? We should all think about it deeply.This is a great post!

Anonymous said...

Scott-- in order to get outside the "orgs following orgs" trap in Twitter, your folks need to start following real people, not just orgs. There's a kind of ettiquette to it, I'm noticing, that if you follow back, the list grows. I started with nobody a month or so ago and I'm seeing a couple of new people every day. At this point it is mostly people following. But just as people aren't interested in following press release postings, they are also slow to follow people or orgs who don't follow back. I'd suggest you find some people who have related but tangential interests to your organization, follow them, and use the direct message feature to get a conversation going.

FYI-- to avoid proliferating a typo, it's referred to as 'tweeting' and they are 'tweets'.

Off to find some more real folks to follow!

Slay said...

Twitter has much greater potential for your arts org than simply a new way to push information to interested people.

Do me a favor do a Twitter Search for "dirty math" - include the quotation marks. (The show closed last weekend, so you may have to scroll down past to a few days ago.)

Now do one for "Available Light Theatre".

And all those nice little reviews can be re-tweeted to your followers, or individually linked-to on your website. Which is more valuable to today's Facebook/Twitter/Yelp user - a single decent review in an old-fashioned newspaper, or 2 dozen raves from her friends and neighbors online?

Also, if you need stats, start using Hootsuite.

Anonymous said...

Chad, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your posts; found them insightful and often used them in my meetings with leaders in an effort to break the stranglehold of traditional marketing. However, I have to take slight issue with your Twitter post, lest Managing and Artistic Directors everywhere begin to digest a few of its core statements as gospel.

Twitter is not a micro-blog, nor should it be associated with anything that a blog has to offer, except to say they are both, in the simplest of terms, messaging platforms. But a blog offers, or should offer, the opportunity for people to respond and continue a conversation; to be interactive. A blog where comments are disabled is naught more than text on a website. If you read any of Jack Dorsey’s statements concerning the creation and primary purpose of Twitter, you will learn that it is as a delivery system of “what’s happening now”. In fact, the initial idea behind Twitter was to bring the “happenings” of delivery systems of a major city into one single delivery stream. The central idea behind Twitter is not interaction which is reciprocal by definition, but action through micro-messaging. These are very specific and important distinctions. Imagine the old Prell commercial. What is more important in their strategy: that people purchase Prell, or that they “tell two friends” about it?

Your post stands alone on its third paragraph with one slight text edit. The first two words should be changed to “The successful”. That an individual employee would post on Twitter of the exciting events happening daily at their organization elicits the perfect response that Twitter can deliver. We must drive home the point to our leaders that the “organizational voice” is not sometimes boring…it is always boring.

And don’t sell yourself short. I would love to hear when you try a new marketing technique, and how it succeeds or fails. But the bottom line is that people would honestly rather hear you write about your latest newspaper ad purchase than be tuned out by the “voice of the organization.”

See you in Baltimore in June.