The Art of the Business

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

State of the Union: Social Networking March 23, 2009

Okay, so I’m no Guy Kawasaki. I’m not even close to Seth Godin.  But some interesting things have happened over the last few weeks, and I wanted to share them with you.

imagesFirst off, Twitter just celebrated its third birthday. Originally used as a device for co-workers in the same office to talk to each other, Twitter began in March, 2006, at a company in San Francisco called Odeo. At last count, Twitter users worldwide are thought to be somewhere in the range of 6 Million.

facebook_badgeSecond, if you are a Facebook user (Facebook is the number 1 social media application in the world, right now), you’ll notice that they have rolled out a new interface. This is partly because Facebook tried to buy Twitter in November last year, and was unsuccessful. So, they have changed their interface to be more Twitter-like.

myspaceThird, I have given a couple of talks on social networking over the last couple of weeks, and I have been asked the question “what about My Space?” My response is always the same: if you are a musician, you should have a My Space page if you are a musician, otherwise….

What does all this tell us? Well, first of all, Facebook would not have tried to buy out Twitter, unless they saw them as some kind of threat. Their current redesign is further proof that they are worried about Twitter’s rapid growth. My Space is a good example of this. In June 0f 2006, My Space was the most popular social networking site on the internet, but it was eclipsed by Facebook in April 2008. My Space is now primarily used by musicians, which I think it is perfect for. Facebook, meanwhile, is sweating over Twitter’s growing popularity.

I have talked to a lot of people about Twitter over the last few weeks. Most people say the same thing–they feel like they should be on Twitter, because it’s so popular, and they hear about it all the time, but I also hear that people are unsure what to do when they join. Often they feel overwhelmed by the amount of noise going on, and are unsure about Twitter’s value to them.

Whenever I get a new follower, I like to check out their Twitter page, and if they seem like someone I have something in common with, I’ll follow them back. I’ve been super busy these last two weeks, so yesterday, I batched the nearly-100 new followers I’d gotten over the last couple of weeks. When I look at someone’s profile to see if I want to follow, I’m looking for a few specific things: a picture, a fully-filled out profile, a website. I will also glance at their last few tweets, and see if any of them present value: links, blog posts, information.

It was a bit of a wake-up call: not that many passed the test. It started me wondering: if someone stumbled over my Twitter page, and judged it on my values, would they follow me? Maybe. Maybe not.

Twitter is young, and there has been a lot of talk about how to take it to the future. Monetization, for example. For me, it’s my goal to use my social networking ability and my skills as a marketer to help people to begin to create a social media marketing plan for themselves or thier business, because this is an area that I see is sadly lacking.

So stay tuned… plans are in the works. And you’ll be the first to know.

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How Businesses are Using New Media for Publicity March 11, 2009

The mainstream media is shrinking. We’ve established that, and whether it’s temporary or permanent, only time will tell. In the mean time, we still need to get people through the door. Here are three examples of what some companies are doing to take advantage of new media.

The British Columbia Institute of Technology (where I took my small business course in 2007), in a bit to bring in new students, hosted a 67-hour live-blogathon. They Twittered, blogged and uploaded video from  Wednesday night through Saturday afternoon. BCIT was also gave away $5000 in tuition to five people. You can see information on Three Blog Nights here, and the blog here.

Meanwhile, in Portland, a company called Portland Centre Stage invited a bunch of people to come to the opening of thier latest show, Apollo, and Twitter it. The experiment was at least partially successful–thier show was top five in Twitter traffic that night. Read more about this experiment here.

And in January, The Vancouver Opera invited three bloggers to come and live blog and Twitter a performance of their

Image courtesy of Miss 604s Flickr stream

Image courtesy of Miss 604's Flickr stream

latest Opera, Carmen. The show was a sell-out. They repeated the process this last Saturday night with Rigoleto. You can read the Vancouver Opera blog here.

What I think is most interesting about these three examples is that they were a success (at least to some degree) on two different levels. The actual event of blogging and Twittering created a buzz around the event in the moment. But, later on, all three of these stories were picked up by bloggers and the mainstream media. Read Gillian Shaw’s story about Three Blog Nights  in the Vancouver Sun. And read about Rebecca Bolwitt’s experience of live blogging the Opera in the Vancouver Courier.

What’s happening is that businesses, arts-related or otherwise, are turning to new media for publicity, because they see that the traditional media is failing.  And, while that is working, they are also reaping bonus rewards: stories in the tradional media about their innovations in social media marketing.

Ironic, huh?

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Come and join the world in celebrating Theatre! February 13, 2009

wtd-avatar2Last year, I did a job for our local Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance–publicity for their annual World Theatre Day celebrations.

World Theatre Day takes place every year on March 27, and is the brainchild of the International Theatre Institute. It’s aim is to:

“promote international exchange of knowledge and practice in theatre arts (drama, dance, music theatre) in order to consolidate peace and solidarity  between peoples, to deepen mutual understanding and  increase creative co-operation between all people in the theatre arts”

Pretty cool, hey?

So, last year, our WTD celebrations took place, with the participation and cooperation of  many of our local companies, all during the week of March 27. And we were very successful in getting the attention of both the media and the local community.

I’m helping out with publicity for our local WTD celebrations again this year, but I started thinking… what if we made this thing truly international? We have the technology…  So, I’m pleased to announce, that, with the help and support of The Next Stage, we are throwing a World Theatre Day party, and everyone’s invited!

We’ve started a blog: If you are interested in participating, details are there, but basically, we want to hear what your local theatre community is doing to celebrate the power of theatre. And, on March 27, we want you to log in and live blog your events, upload pictures or videos… we want to hear from you!

It’s gonna be a great party, and the more theatre lovers/bloggers/producers/writers/artists get invovled, the better it’s going to be! I, for one, just can’t wait to get this party started….

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Theatre Tweeple February 11, 2009

I’ve been talking about Twitter for months now. It’s no secret that I am totally and utterly hooked.

I love that it works in real time, and I love all the new contacts that I’ve made through Twitter. And I’m especially excited about all the people I am meeting from all over the world that share my passion for the theatre.

Here are just a few of the people I follow, and am building relationships with (for some pretty cool stuff which we are currently cooking, but not at liberty to disclose!). Check them out, and perhaps you might like to follow them, too. First off, you should join the Theatre group on Twitter, and if you post anything about Theatre, include the hashtag: #Theatre.


@thenextstagemag: Simon Ogden, The Next Stage blogger

@DanceCentre: The Scotiabank Dance Centre

@pitheatre: Pi Theatre

@RachelPeake: a local writer and Ruby Slippers blogger

@CynnamonS: my fellow publicist and gal-about-town

@TheElectrics: Electric Theatre Co.


@ShamelessHussy: Both of these are the tweets of Deb Pickman

@bcfilmmaker: Peter D. Marshall, Film Director, blogger and social media enthusiast

@TJBuffoonery: Trilby Jeeves, Bouffon

@SMLois: Lois, Stage Manager at Pacific Theatre, and blogger

@Stevely: Publicist and Commercial Drive blogger

@UQEvents: That great new events listing site

@BronwenRules: Actor and one of my personal fave people

@CatLH: Actor and owner of Biz Books

@ShaneBee: Blogger and owner of LeftRightMinds

@CosmoCanuck: Adam is an actor, blogger and photographer

@MonicaHamburg: blogger, actor, social media

@LeeHVincent: works on Skydive

@StraightArts: the arts section of The Georgia Straight

@jconnellyphoto: Headshot photographer


@Luminato: The Toronto Festival

@bfg85: A Toronto actress

@ianmackenzie: Praxis Theatre blogger


@LindsayWriter: Lyndsay Price, writer and blogger on Theatrefolk

@KrisJoseph: Actor out of Ottawa

@jcovert: Publicist for the NAC in Ottawa

@a_mandolin: theatre artist, Toronto.






@WendyRosenfeld: Theatre critic in Philadelphia

@StoryTolar: Actor in LA, Debra Olson-Tolar


@TravisBedard: Blogger of Midnight Honesty at Noon (Austin)

@pmull: Director and writer (Virgina)

@JessHutchinson, AD of a theatre in Chicago



@moremattrlessrt: Two Day Productions, Scotland

@actorexpo: London & Edinburgh’s Trade show for actors

@Xuxa2: a UK Actress


@djchadderton: David Chadderton, a theatre writer/reviewer in England

@devioustheatre: a company from Ireland

@dramagirl: Kate Foy

And a couple of celebrity  actors, just for fun:



@MrsKutcher (Demi Moore)

@APlusK (Ashton Kutcher)

@JaneFonda (who is currently on Broadway for the first time in decades, and blogging/twittering all about it… Go Jane!)

If  I’ve missed anyone, or you’ve joined since this post was published, please add yourself to the comments section below.

And Twitter ON!!

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How many posters should we print? February 9, 2009

I was asked this question in a phone call from one of my clients last week.

“500?” she asked. I nearly choked on my coffee.

There’s a marketing revolution happening, folks. And the news is mostly good, and a little bit bad. Truth is, the tried-and-true, traditional methods of marketing our theatre productions, like posters and postcards, and ads in newspapers, aren’t working anymore. Part of the reason for this is that, we are so constantly inundated with advertising, that is is almost impossible to break through. Granted, an eye-grabbing graphic or title might help, but at the end of the day, what is going to sell tickets more than anything else is relationship selling.

The good news about that is that it is much, much cheaper than traditional forms of advertising. The bad news is, you will have to make a deep investment of time, and that can sometimes be a big challenge for already-overworked non-profit theatre companies. But the payoff can be really, really big.

In this day and age of spam, impersonal form-emails and auto responders, a personal touch is almost rare, and therefore stands out more. It’s like we’re going back to the days of the door-to-door salesman. A thirty-second “elevator pitch” paired with the backup of printed material (like a postcard, business card or flyer) could be the shortest distance between you and a ticket sale.

Online social networking via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs is another way to create relationships and reach your audience.

So… how many posters should you print? If you are a small company, and doing a show that is less than a three week run, in a theatre that seats under 200, only print between 100-200 posters. They are not your greatest form of advertising, another touchpiont, yes, but at the risk of getting torn down, or just not noticed. The return on your investment is not going to be great.

An investment of time and passion, on the other hand, could pay off big time.

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LinkedIn January 28, 2009

Filed under: Business of Arts,Business relationships,Networking — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:20 am

Opportunities for connecting on the internet abound. There’s Digg, Fark, del.ici.ous, Stumbleupon, and on and on and on. Unless you do social networking for a living, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them all (in addition to your six email accounts). The possibility of getting burnt out by information overload is very real, so I keep my online activities down to there main ones: Facebook, which I use to set up groups and events on behalf of my clients, but I also use personally to keep in touch with family and friends, Twitter, which I use mainly for sharing information, and LinkedIn.


LinkedIn has been around for a while, and is, essentially, online social networking for business. When you sign up, you can create a profile page for your business, which includes your areas of specialty, and links to your website. You can put information up about your past work experience and education. My profile also includes my blog feed and which business books I am currently reading or want to read. Pretty standard stuff, so far. But here’s where it gets cool. You create contacts with people that you know directly or have done business with online. By connecting with others, you get access to thier networks, and thier network’s networks, etc. etc. I currently have 46 connections on my LinkedIn, which gives me a total of 233,800 connections in total. It’s six degrees of separation gone viral.

You can also join groups of like-minded individuals, post questions (or answer them to prove your ‘expert’ status), and get recommendations for your work, which become public for the whole world to see. There is also a place to post jobs, and I have heard that people searching for work have often been quite successful by using LinkedIn.

Catherine Lough Haggquist, who owns Biz Books, is a dear friend of mine, and a highly-respected businessperson, says “I find the “groups” function to be the most developed, focused and subscribed to of any of the SNs I belong to…and I am at about 10 right now. As my professional pursuits are varied but related, LinkedIn is a handy way, through it’s emails from the groups that I belong to, to stay up on news and useful discussions and blog posts that I can incorporate into my different business plans and strategies. Also, the “status” function is very handy for getting the word out.”

Mojgan Fay, who is someone I met on LinkedIn, has a great program and blog called Business Mentoring for the Arts. Check out her great post on LinkedIn and how to make your profile more appealing.

And if you are already on LinkedIn, or if you join, look me up.

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2009 is all A-Twitter! January 5, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

I’m back after a couple of weeks that included family time, being unable to leave the house because of record amounts of freak snowfall, and finally, four days of doing nothing on a Gulf Island.

I have been on Twitter since August, and over the past six months, it has gotten me more and more exwhalecited. I don’t think I’ve ever had the experience of being on the cutting edge of something quite like this before. There is a steady string of new applications and uses constantly being created. This is my third blog post on Twitter, which will bring you up to date on some the newest, latest-and-greatest stuff out there. If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, please read my original blog post, and the follow up, resource guide.

First off,  a couple of really great blog posts for the beginning Twitterer. I wish I’d read these before I started!
Looking for Mr. Goodtweet: How to find followers on Twitter. Written by Guy Kawasaki, a powerhouse blogger and Twitterer. Lots of really great and practical advice for expanding your network.
How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business, written by Michael Stelzner, breaks it down in an easy to read and follow manner.

I have just started using Power Twitter, an add-on through Firefox, if you use that for your web browser. It makes searching for things easier, and also directly streams You Tube and photo links like TwitPics (which I also love–you only need your Twitter login ID to use it, instead of having to sign up for yet another service).

Have you ever noticed that the serious Twitterers have beautiful, custom-made backgrounds that include thier contact info, blogs and website URLs? Well, you can get one, too, by using My Tweet Space.

Friend or Follow tells you who your followers are that you are not following back, and vice-versa.

Ever wonder how to get cute little symbols into your tweets? Check out Twtitter Keys.

Twitority is a kind of keyword search. If you are looking to connect with people on a specific subject matter, say, Theatre, just type in theatre, and you willl inevitably find some interesting people to follow.

Finally, Twellowhood allows you to find Twitterers in your geographical neck of the woods.

Twitter on into 2009!

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