The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Creating Young Ambassadors September 24, 2010

The topic of creating an audience for the future is one of keen interest to me. And is to a lot of folks who know that they will eventually rely upon the youth of today to fill our theatres tomorrow.

I came across this great article from The Miami Herald that talks about a new teen ambassador program that allows teens to attend one performance per month for free, in exchange for the teens writing reviews of the show and sharing them through their social networks.

It’s brilliant on many levels. I’ll be very interested to read the follow-up story.

Read the entire story here.

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Oops. September 10, 2010

Filed under: ettiquette,Marketing with Twitter,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:44 am
Tags: ,

This was sent to me by John Paul Fischbach, who hosted my recent trip to Australia, and I wanted to share it with you.

File it under “You’ve been duly warned.”

From The Nest: National Theatre’s Twitter Screw Up–What We Can Learn From Other Peoples Mistakes

On 25th August, in discussing that state of the city’s South Bank arts precinct, London Mayoral advisor Steve Norris commented in the media that “the National Theatre should have a Compulsory Demolition Order”.

Of course, to the National Theatre, that is very much what you might call ‘fighting talk’, and you would expect that the National Theatre would push back, right? But would you have expected them to say this?

Read the rest of the article

I look forward to discussing it with you in the comments section below.

 

WP Finally Adds A “Tweet This” Button August 18, 2010

Filed under: marketing with blogs,Marketing with Twitter,social media,Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:34 am
Tags: ,

For those of you, who, like me (although not for very much longer) have a WordPress-hosted blog, you will be very happy to know that WordPress has FINALLY added a “Tweet This” Widget.

I love WP. I’m their greatest fan. But it’s frustrating, because you certainly are limited by what you can do with a WP-hosted blog. For example, I can’t post Amazon Affiliate links. And this Tweet button has been a a long, long time coming.

Here’s how to install it:

  1. Log into your dashboard
  2. Scroll down the left-hand side menu board until you get to “Appearance.” If it’s not already expanded, click the arrow to expand.
  3. Now click on “Extras.”
  4. A window comes up that looks like this:
  5. Check the “Show a Twitter Tweet Button on my posts.”
  6. Hit “update” and you’re done!

This makes it a lot easier for folks to read your post and tweet it with one button, as opposed to having to copy the URL and past it into their Twitter client, shorten it, etc.

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Fringe Marketing for Dummies Pt 2 July 26, 2010

Today, we continue our series on how to market your Fringe show! As ever, feel free to share your best Fringe marketing tips in the comments below!

Publicity and PR: Deb Pickman recently offered a workshop on this topic here in Vancouver, and it was well attended. If you couldn’t make it, you can download her notes. The Fringe supplies participants with a media list. Again, the number one thing to keep in mind while crafting your pitch or your media release is to think about what your USP is.

Event Listings: Create a short PSA and send it to the local papers for their event listings, and find event listing websites to upload your listing to. The Fringe does this for “The Fringe,” so it’s possible that event listings editors will see that you are part of the fringe and not print your listing, but it’s worth a shot.

Here’s an example of a listing:

SENSATION OF MAGIC: Vitaly Beckman performs seventy minutes of jaw-dropping, mind-bending magic and illusions. August 17-21, 8 pm. Havana Theatre on 1212 Commercial Drive. $15 (advance) $20 (door), Tix at Highlife Records, 1317 Commercial Dr, Vancouver. Info/Tix: 778.228.5291, http://www.SensationOfMagic.com

Websites and Social Media:

You need to have a website. If you can afford it, get one professionally done, but if you can’t, I offer some tips on how to build a website in Word Press here. Deb put it so well in her notes that I’m going to quote her on this one, because I couldn’t possibly say it better: Your front-page right hand side should contain buttons for all online social media streams: FaceBook, Twitter, Blog, YouTube, Flicker. A journalist should get everything they need to tell your story without picking up the phone, by reading your website because it includes everything that’s in your press kit.

Social Media: This method of marketing is exploding–fully 500 Million people are on Facebook, and YouTube gets one million hits a day. Here are the top 5 Social Media sites, and how to use them:

Email: If you don’t already have this, get started now building an email list of people that are interested in your work. You can either use an e-newsletter program, or your own, html-formatted email. Send three emails: one about a month before the show, one a week before the show, and one after the show is opened, but before it closes (which incorporates your positive reviews). Include photos and links to make it interesting.

Facebook: if you haven’t already, create a fan page for your company. Then work your butt off to get as many fans as possible. Create an event page off of your fan page for your Fringe Show. Now, populate the page with updates every couple of days: how things are going in rehearsals, media coverage, photos, etc. Connect your page to the Fringe’s page.

Blog: Blogs are all about what goes on behind the scenes, so write about your rehearsal process, your tour, that crazy conversation you had with an audience member after the show. don’t feel like you have to depend upon writing–photos, video or audio are also fun and acceptable. A great example is Jeremy Bank’s Fringetastic blog. I’ll be doing an interview with him in a future post.

YouTube: create videos of yourself in rehearsal, of you talking about your show, etc. Post them on YouTube, then cross-post them on FB, Twitter, your blog, and email. Post them on the Fringe’s YouTube Channel.

Flickr: Get a Flickr account to post photos: not just production photos (ie: your professional ones) but also casual photos from rehearsals. Also connect your account to the Fringe Flickr account.

Twitter: If you are not yet on Twitter, quite honestly now may not be the best time to jump in. Learning how to Twitter is easy, but mastering it takes time. It is, however, a very powerful tool. The Fringe, by the way, is @VancouverFringe, and the hashtag, if you are Twittering, is #VanFringe. Anything that you twitter with that hashtag will likely be ReTweeted by the Fringe Social Media dude, Earl.

The Fringe, by the way, will also have an IPhone app this year.

Guerrilla Marketing/PR Stunts: There are great opportunities for guerrilla marketing at the Fringe. Granville Island is pretty densely populated all the time, so walking around in costume, handing out flyers, or flyering lines is pretty successful. After all, if people are there to see the Fringe, they are your target market, you’re doing them a service by telling them about your show. You can also draw/make signs on the sidewalk and road with chalk, or talk to the Fringe about doing a mini-performance in the bar.

Using other Fringes for marketing collateral: If you have been to other fringes, and have gotten star-ratings or good reviews, it’s important to use that info as much as possible on all of your marketing materials. Here in Vancouver, the way to get a much-coveted preview is to have someone from The Straight see your show in Victoria (which is right before ours) and highlight it in a Fringe preview.

Good luck! Have fun! Share any additional comments or tips below.

 

Why I love the Aussies July 16, 2010

From an article called Geeks, Tweets, Bums in Seats from The Sydney Herald:

In a Nielsen poll, Australian social media use was deemed to be the highest in the world, ahead of the US, Britain and mainland Europe. Almost a third of arts consumers in Australia now use the internet to research a show or event, buy tickets, view art, listen to music or write blogs and share thoughts on social media, according to a recent report from the Australia Council for the Arts.

And it’s not just young consumers. Worldwide, the average Twitter user is middle-aged. Those aged 45-54 are 36 per cent more likely to visit the Twitter site than the rest of the population, according to a 2009 poll. These are figures the arts industry can’t afford to ignore, although most admit they are still feeling their way.

This really great article goes on to give examples of how artists are using social media (specifically Twitter) to create a buzz about their shows, address concerns and answer questions, and even to create art and plays.

The other reason I really love the Aussies is because they invited me to come to Melbourne and do a couple of Social Media Workshops. As you can imagine, I’m pretty stoked.

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Offline Techniques to Grow Your Online Presence May 24, 2010

Last week, I wrote a post, inspired by a question from Kristi Fuoco:

I was just wondering if you’d ever thought of writing a blog post about promoting social media through print and other methods. Do you think it’s effective, worth it? I’ve just been noticing more and more businesses lately that have been advertising their twitter, facebook etc. on posters, business cards, flyers and have been wondering whether or not to do it and thought you might have some thoughts on this.

Today, I’m offering some specific tips on how to promote your social media presence, offline.

1. Before you start to promote offline, make sure your on-line is solid. That means having a good website or blog (you need to pick something to be the centre of operations, the place that you want your other “arms” to lead back to), a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account, and whatever else works for you: LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.. Make sure you are updating all of these on a fairly regular basis, and they are all linked to each other.

2. If you have a physical business, make a sign and put it where folks can see it: in the window, by the cash register, etc. Instead of just saying “Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!” and listing your usernames for those, sweeten the pot: that means offering special “Facebook exclusive” or “Twitter exclusive” discounts or specials. Remember, these specials can act like a coupon code, so they are trackable, which is useful to you.

3. If you have an online business, make sure you have a business card, or some kind of leave behind with your social media information on it. You may want to use a tool like Telnic, which creates a single, simple URL (ie: http://rebeccacoleman.tel), which people can go to and find all of your links from there. A couple of other options are flavors.me, (thanks @shamelesshussy for that one). Again, sweeten the pot by offering exclusive information via these channels.

4. Host a meetup or a tweetup: A tweetup is an off-line, in-person meeting of folks who met through Twitter. Usually, they are tied together by some theme or common interest. For example, here in Vancouver, we have a Vancouver Theatre Tweetup (#yvrttu), and there are a million more. Say for example, you are the owner of a specialty wine shop. You could search for wine tweetups in your city, offer to host one, and maybe even offer some tastings. Go to Meetup.com to see what kind of meetups and tweetups are happening in your city. Niche marketing at its very best!

5. Foursquare promotions: Foursquare is a game/social media interface. Essentially, you sign up for an account, and then every time you go somewhere, a restaurant, school, the library, the gym, you use your phone to “check in.” If you have it connected to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, Foursquare posts to Facebook and Twitter automatically where you are. If you visit one place more than anyone else in that month, you get to be the “mayor” of that place, or you unlock badges for trying new things. One way to use Foursquare for business is to offer discounts and deals to Foursquare users: you will, in essence, be rewarding your best customers. For example, something free each month to the “mayor” of your business, or a discount for every 10 checkins. For more information on how to use Foursquare for business, click here.

6. Tweetup + Foursquare = Swarm: If 50 people on Foursquare check in all at the same place, that’s called a swarm. It comes with its own badges, and the possibilities of using this for theatre, concerts, or other larger-venue events is very interesting.

7. Create a flashmob: Flashmobs may be one of the coolest things to emerge from social media. According to Wikipedia, the definition of a flashmob is:  a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse. Originally, they were created just to bring some fun and surprise into the everyday lives of passers-by, but they have grown into an interesting marketing tool.  This past March 27, World Theatre Day, we created a Footloose Flashmob, which took place in Waterfront Station, a busy bus/train/seabus station in downtown Vancouver. It was both to promote World Theatre Day, and production of Footloose that was currently running. I have heard of folks doing scenes from Shakespeare on public transit, dances, pillow fights, and on and on and on. I’ll leave you with this one from Steppenwolf in Chicago:

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How to manage the noise May 10, 2010

I did a workshop on April 17 in Richmond called Art at Work. One of the themes that kept coming up about social media, and Twitter specifically, was how “noisy” it is.

For the beginning user, Twitter can be overwhelming. You have 100s of tweets coming at you every minute, and how do you distinguish between what’s important and what’s not? While I’m a big advocate of not tweeting every thought that passes through your brain, not everyone who’s on Twitter has that attitude, so there can be a lot of dreck to wade through until you get to the good stuff.

Here’s a great graphic from Wikipedia about what’s going on on Twitter:
The top two categories: Pointless babble and Conversations, make up fully 78% of whats going on on Twitter at any given time.

Here are some tips for managing the noise:

  1. Let go of the notion that you need to read every single tweet. If something is really important, the information will find its way to you.
  2. Learn to skim tweets and look for the things you are really interested in.
  3. Use a Twitter platform to manage your Twitter stream. Once you start following more than 200 people, you need a better way of managing your stream than the Twitter website interface (or even interfaces with add-ons, like Power Twitter). The three main platforms that most people use are TweetDeck, HootSuite and Seesmic Desktop.
    What these platforms allow you to do are to group the people you are following into categories that allow you to priortize those folks that are the most important. For example, in mine, I have a group for “Friends,” “Theatre,” “Media,” and “Business.” It allows me to, at a glance, see the latest tweets from those folks that I deem to be the movers and shakers. I can then retweet things that catch my eye, respond to tweets, etc.

I use a Twitter platform called Seesmic Desktop. What I like about this, in addition to being able to categorize my followers, is that it has built-in link shortening, photo and video attachments, and I can manage several Twitter accounts without having to sign out and sign back in again.

But I’d encourage you to ask around, see what recommendations people have for you, and then try out some of the more popular ones yourself to see which one suits you best.

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