Who says a Broadway Show can’t be at the top of pop culture?

In today’s world, it sure is hard for a Broadway show to compete with the likes of Paris Hilton, MTV, Anderson Cooper, Lindsay Lohan, and the like.

But on Twitter, one show has not only competed with them, it has crushed them.
Next To Normal is now up to 618,703 followers (and growing), besting so many other seemingly more “popular” people.  It’s ranked as the 205th most popular tweeter on the web!
How’d they do it?
N2N used this new technology the old-fashioned way, with tried and true unique and interactive content unavailable anywhere else.  They tweeted the entire musical in twitter-ese, the actors have been tweeting what they’re feeling behind-the-scenes, and now, the composers are asking all 600k of those followers for ideas for a new song for the show.
Pretty great, right?  Without a doubt, it’s the best use of Twitter by a musical since the technology was born.
But before we go celebrating just yet, let’s remember the most important question to ask yourself when you engage in any marketing campaign:  what has it done to the box office?
Obviously, it hasn’t dropped 600,000 butts right into the seats of the Booth Theater, but that’s not what it was meant to do, and luckily the smart folks behind the campaign know that.  Twitter wasn’t designed to be a direct response tool.  Pushing a ticket offer out to that group on a repeated basis would be a sure-fire way to disengage all of them and fast.
Social media was designed to be . . . well . . . social.  And a campaign like this builds brand awareness inexpensively and at the same time, revs up your passionate users like nothing else could.
And that’s why there’s a long line at the box office every morning for Normal rush tickets.
You can’t bet your brand on social media.  It’s not going to make you or break you at the bank.  But done right, it’s a way to get your brand mentioned in the same sentence as the big boys.
And that certainly can’t be bad.
  • Producer/Marketer says:

    N2N Twitter numbers are a bit of a false read. Those who run the N2N online marketing broke a deal with Twitter to have the profile placed in the “suggestions” section – http://twitter.com/invitations/suggestions. When a new user signs up for Twitter, these boxes are AUTOMATICALLY checked- hence a large numbers of new Twitter subscribers don’t know they are signing up for N2N let alone know it is a Broadway show.
    Is this brilliant placement? It depends on what a producer holds important – numbers or engagement.
    Consider the fact that if you add up all the followers of each and every Broadway related Twitter account,you would not even come to 1/6 of the numbers of N2N. So you are telling me that there are more tried and true N2N fans than all combined Twitter Broadway fans? I don’think so…

  • Dan Mason says:

    That explains the discrepency between the N2N twitter numbers and their facebook and youtube numbers, which are significantly less. Still though, you can’t fault them for trying. And at the end of the day, they still got over 600,000 impressions. Everytime they tweet an update, it’s showing up on people’s twitter pages. If you could broker a deal to get 640,000 impressions for any other business that you were involved with, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?
    I saw the show Saturday while visiting NY. And I was impressed that the next morning, I had an email thanking me for seeing the show as well as offering me a link to pass along to friends for discounted tickets. I’ve been going to New York for 15 years to see shows…and while I’ve often ended up on the mailing list for various productions, I’ve never once had anyone thank me for spending my money to see their show. It’s funny how such a basic principle of customer service stands out when none of your competitors are doing it. I also liked the “tell a friend” marketing angle. I can tell you that two different people sitting near me were return customers, who brought friends who were seeing the show for the first time.
    When all is said and done, none of your marketing efforts matter unless you have a good product. N2N is a good show, that affects people in a more profound way than many of the other shows running right now. Kudos to them for thinking outside of the box and finding ways to embrace the customer inviting them into their own “community”.

  • Up in Arms says:

    I read somewhere that 90-some percent of people who sign up for Twitter to find out what the fuss is all about never use it again. If that is true, it could follow that about 90 % of those 600,000 “followers” don’t even exist any more. Goes to show you, make sure you know what boxes are checked when you sign up for any new type of service or account.
    I guess the truth doesn’t mean much in this business. Producer/Marketer should send a letter to the NYT. The amount of press this has generated is, I’m sure, worth it to the producers. Tsk. It’s a wonder they’re able to sleep at night.

  • Dan Mason says:

    I think your numbers about twitter fatigue are a little high, but let’s assume that you’re right. 90 percent of the 650,000 don’t exist. Guess what? That means that 65,000 followers ARE real! Let’s compare that to other Broadway shows on Twitter
    Rock of Ages- 5700 followers
    Shrek- 222 followers
    The Almighty Billy Elliot- 2,389 followers
    Wicked (Could only find a listing for the London show)- 4700 followers
    Rent (The National Tour)- 4700 followers
    N2N is still engaging their audience more than anyone else on Broadway. Have you been to the page to read the posts? The “real” tweeters are fully engaged and are happy to be part of the community.
    People join a brand for the same reasons that they join a cult. They want to feel like a part of something. The N2N producers are doing an amazing job of inviting people in. I feel like all too often, we throw around the term “theater community”. Usually, it’s a self-serving reference to the actors, directors, and producers who are CREATING the art. While their time and dedication is vitally important, let’s not forget the equally important part of the “community”… the theater audience. Ultimately, it’s their money, and their word of mouth that keeps the lights of the marquee on. So even if the twitter numbers are inflated, is it such a bad thing that the N2N creative team is making the audience feel like part of a movement? And wouldn’t Broadway be amazing if EVERY show generated the amount of passion from it’s fanbase that N2N has?

  • Up in Arms says:

    You’re right, the 90% is inflated. It’s actually 60% who don’t return according to a Harvard study: http://www.slate.com/id/2219995/
    (I remembered the statistic that 10% of Twitter users account for 90% of all tweets..that’s what confused me).
    All good points. Yes, every Broadway show should engage their audience. But Producer/Marketer’s comments are still valid. How many of those followers are truly engaged or even know N2N is a Broadway show if they were signed up automatically? Perhaps the # of people engaged is not any more than the number of followers of the other Broadway shows you mentioned. N2N is getting this publicity because of its numbers and this blog and the NYTimes article is asserting that it is a direct result of their interactive efforts, which is not the entire truth. It’s actually dishonest reporting.

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