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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Social Media Analysis of Washington DC Area Theaters

By • Sep 28th, 2011 • Category: News

With all the changes at Facebook over the past few weeks, and with rumors that Twitter feels it is now strong enough to support the upcoming Apple iPhone announcement, I decided to take a look at how theater companies are using the web and other common marketing and social media tools.

I decided to only look at the web sites for community and professional companies in the Washington DC region. I simply went to each organization’s website and looked for the following types of information:

  • A link to the company’s Facebook page
  • A link to the company’s twitter account
  • An e-mailing list for announcements
  • A blog
  • An rss or atom feed

All five of these methods may used to push information out from the theater company to people who are interested in some aspect of the company. For example, maybe a company has added a new performance to their schedule, or has received a rave review, or is holding auditions next month. While the theater’s website can present that information to the public, it is up to the public to actively go look for it. These five technologies allow the company to push the information to a user easily.

The 128 theater companies broke out like this:

  • 63 community theaters, 65 professional theaters;
  • 41 in Washington DC, 41 in Maryland, 46 in Virginia;
  • 127 (99%) of companies have updated their website’s content in the past two years;
  • 113 (88%) had a Facebook presence;
  • 64 (50%) had at least one e-mail announcement list;
  • 52 (41%) had a Twitter presence;
  • 36 (28%) had a feed available;
  • 28 (22%) had a blog of some sort, either hosted at a third-party service, or on their primary web site; and
  • 17 (13%) use all six methods to interact with people (Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, feeds, and mailing lists)

There were a few lessons learned from this experiment:

  • Facebook has changed their link structure over the years. So every once in a while double-check the link to your Facebook page to make sure it still works.
  • Many groups made it very difficult to find the link to their Facebook or Twitter pages. Ideally, there should be a link from the main home page to those services.
  • There is a difference between Facebook’s groups, places, pages, and individuals. Some theater companies have their presence set as an individual, which is against Facebook’s Terms of Service.
  • The difference between Facebook Places and Facebook Groups also led to confusion, as several Groups are also the name of the Place. This means that people are occasionally friending a place instead of the group, or asking questions about one instead of the other.
  • Very few groups are using Facebook’s Events functionality consistently.
  • There are many mailing list systems out there. Constant Contact, Vendini, MailChimp, and Convio are all outsourced systems that can be used. But most companies seem to be using their own solutions.
  • The most popular blogging systems were: WordPress (either the .org or .com version), Blogger, Tumblr, and LiveJournal.
  • There were also other social media used: Youtube, Flickr, Vimeo, and LinkedIn.
  • Some sites may not have a separate blog, as the entire site is built with a blogging system (usually WordPress) as the content management system.
  • Twitter seems to be under-utilized. There are a few Twitter streams that are very active, with many posts per day, while most Twitter streams are only used while a show is in production.
  • Groups that do more than only theater have many more friends and followers. (Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap are the obvious examples, although there are others).

WashingtonTheater.net holds the data for all 128 theater companies I looked at. It shows the number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and has links to all the services I could find. On the right of the list are the options you may use to filter out the rows. When in the “Table” view, you may sort the columns by clicking on the header. When in the “Tiles” view, you may sort by choosing the criteria at the top of the list. The “Tiles” view also lets you click to the group’s relevant pages.

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This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7195.

has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

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