Here are some words that could make Broadway producers simultaneously burst in to tears as well as hit the floor and genuflect: You’ve Got To See It!
It’s no secret that Word of Mouth is the world’s most powerful marketing tool but the rise and rise and rise of social media has meant that “word of mouth” can also be spoken through Tweets, Facebooks, check-ins and user reviews. Research says that for every one fan who joins a show’s Facebook page, an additional 34 fans can be reached.
In anyone’s language that’s great potential but in Broadway World, that could create some serious revenue and seat sales for a show. In a saturated popular culture market, and having to compete against the huge marketing budgets of films and television shows, the free, yet time-consuming, responsibility of interacting with fans and uploading content to social media spaces is fast becoming a tool producers need to embrace and excel at.
Ultimately, publicists, producers and marketing directors are going to want their social media to be savvy and their stars to be open to participation. The corporate world has learnt quickly that prevalence and consistency is key to growing their “Klout”, an incredible analytical tool which measures a users ability to drive action among its network. The Klout score, measured between 1 and 100 depending upon a the level of influence, shows just how much importance a strong social media program can have.
It’s no surprise that the two consistently highest grossing shows on Broadway, Wicked and The Lion King, have the highest Facebook following – with 654,754 and 645,171 fans respectively. But coming in at third on Zuckerberg’s most popular list is Mary Poppins which last week sold less than 50 per cent of their potential seats in New York but has more than 435,000 Facebook fans. It’s a fascinating number considering they post infrequently and the content is not as dynamic nor involved as many other Broadway show pages. Traffic can flow in from the Disney website which wouldn’t hurt their potential to grow the numbers as well as the fact that the show is performed in more than 19 cities in America as well as the current Australian production and worldwide.
So does the Mary Poppins example mean that all the tweeting and liking doesn’t have an impact on ticket sales? It’s hard to find tangible proof either way but there has to be merit in being able to connect with a show’s most committed fans. Despite it being a relatively simple task to “like” a page or “follow” a show, its fair to say that the action is a resounding stamp of approval. Therefore every fan is really another ambassador for the production. A free, walking, talking referral all for the return of just some behind-the-scenes content or cute photo.
And if you don’t believe it’s worth it then trust that if the powers-that-be at The Book of Mormon are doing it, then it’s the way to go. The show doesn’t even have a ticket left over to sell but they are prevalent on Facebook posting frequently throughout the day and enjoying a whopping 210,410 fans.
Despite a huge amount of scandal and media attention, the Facebook page of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark is actually quite disappointing. Considering the revenue was about $1.3m last week (and hovers around that mark), they’ve only been able to attract around 20,000 fans to their page. Their content is tailored to their audience including the opportunity to win tickets and an “Everyday Hero” promotion so it is surprising their numbers are low. Comparatively, the incredibly active Priscilla Queen of the Desert account has more fans and has been able to engage with their fans in a far stronger way. The “voice” on the Priscilla page is strong and clear, identifying it clearly in line with the show’s overall branding message. This could be a critical reason why it has resonated with its fans so well or testament to its demographic for being so vocal. Either way, harnessing that energy and enthusiasm must propel the much-strived-for “buzz” that marketers seek.
Priscilla’s star, Nick Adams, who fills the shoes of Felicia, is one of the most prominent social media buffs currently starring on Broadway. Adams’ has more than 3,300 fans on Facebook and more than 8,500 Twitter followers… (which is more than the Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway page! Although not quite as many as Jackman himself who has 731,311 fans). He is frequently responding to fans’ questions and compliments through tweets and promotes the work of the show, any relevant media content as well as promotions. Not surprisingly, Adams’ fans campaigned for him to be given the role of Felicia which the producers seemed to pay attention to.
Other Broadway stars who have joined in the tweeting fun include Adams’ co-star Will Swenson as well as Broadway faves Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Lin-Manual Miranda, Stephanie J. Block, Sutton Foster, Anika Noni Rose, Audra McDonald, and even stalwart Joel Grey tweets from time to time. Sadly no such social media love from Nathan Lane, Norbert Leo Butz or tween heartthrob and part-time Gossip Girl-er Aaron Tveit. It seems Australian musical stars are also happy to join the social media revolution with Lucy Durack, Rob Mills, Matt Lee and Tim Campbell among those embracing the hashtag.
- The well-received How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is having the mother of all casting flips in the first weeks of the new year. As Daniel Radcliffe leaves the show after a critically-acclaimed run in the role of Robert Morse, he will be replaced by Glee star Darren Criss for a week before pop phenom Nick Jonas steps in. Maybe Delta will be seen in New York around this time?
- The Steven Spielberg-created television show, Smash, is already generating a lot of buzz in NYC despite not premiering until February 6th next year. The show revolves around a group of characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. It will star names such as Debra Messing, Anjelica Houston and Jack Davenport as well as Glinda alum Megan Hilty. It is expected to launch the career of Katharine McPhee, who plays the lead, into the stratosphere.