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Picture 2The 2009 Tony Awards are tonight, and in honor of them I am taking a look at their social media campaigns. Productions are making their presence known on various sites like Twitter and Facebook. It’s the kind of marketing that allows patrons to connect to their favorite shows before or after they see them.

I’m only going to focus on new musicals. It would be great to cover every single show, but neither of us has that kind of time. I mean, the show is in 3 hours.

Let’s start with a strong contender, “Next to Normal.” A lot of hype supporting this musical, and their social media reach is pretty far. It not only has a Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, it has gone the extra mile to feature itself on the theatre social network BroadwaySpace, created by Ken Davenport. Also interesting: Its Twitter account connects to the illusion of the show by having characters tweet about their daily adventures.

Now “Shrek” may be green, but it’s not with envy. (I know, cheesy.) When you land on the homepage of the official Shrek website, there is a message to encourage you to follow the show on Twitter along with a Twitter app displaying their latest tweets. When you continue into the site, you will find all the same links as “Next to Normal” plus a link to Shrekster, a quasi social network developed for the production. There is also a share button, allowing visitors to share the site on their own social profiles.

Shrek seems to have upped the ante against “Next to Normal,” but can it compare to “Rock of Ages.” R.O.A. also has Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and BroadwaySpace down. Fine, but does it have its own social network like Shrek? Yup, and it’s a little more impressive and social. It’s called 80s Rock Fans, and it lets fans connect over their favorite 80s bands.

Lastly I cover the weak contender Billy Elliot. The website only features links to Facebook and Twitter profiles for the show. No MySpace, no BroadwaySpace, and certainly no specially designed site.

And the winner is…

“Rock of Ages.”

I love following their Twitter for 80s themed tweets. The complexity of their handmade social network trumps Shrekster.

“Shrek” is a strong second thanks to large presence on social networks + personal social site. While it’s great to integrate a Twitter app on the landing page to attract followers, the effort has been lacking. Only 400 people follow.

P.S. I’m guessing “Next to Normal” takes the Tony for best new musical.

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Facebook recently changed their terms and conditions to not-so-subtly say that they owned our data when users disabled their accounts. Meaning your photos, notes, wall posts would be property of Facebook.

People raised a fit! Boy howdy, did they raise a fit. Facebook saw a surge of accounts disabled. People wrote them, blogged nasty posts, and cursed the ground Mark Zuckerberg walked on.

Er, well, maybe that last part was just me.

Well, Facebook is saying they made a whoopsie.

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But I find it odd that they’d make the announcement so late. Maybe it’s a political move…like politicians hoping for a damaging story to happen on a Friday so that news organizations might not catch the move.

I’m not sure.

Either way, feel free to post, write, upload. It’s your property (for now.)

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picture-13Ah, digital love! Pixels zooming through the wireless cloud to give a little smile to someone you love. Your digital love could be one of Facebook’s gifts, a Twitter @reply to tweet “I ❤ U,” or just a simple ecard.

Granted, it’s not a bouquet of fresh cut flowers, and it’s not a dinner date with your sweetie. But it’s cute.

And all you Vday haters can drop your weapons because today isn’t just about romantic love. Use it as a day to call your mother, tell your friends that you appreciate them, and maybe even have a JD-Turk guy love moment.

Did you see Friday the 13th? Jason killed a lot of people. He just popped out, and boom dead. I guess I’m trying to say life is too short to not spread some love, even if it’s digital.

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So, quickly, Twitter is becoming popular.

Celebrities use it. News organizations use it. Businesses use it. But you don’t.picture-23

You’re a twirgin (someone who hasn’t used Twitter before.)

Beyond status updates, Twitter is a more powerful tool than you think. In a simple way this service allows people converse the hottest topics in real time. But I’ll get more into the full potential of Twitter in a sec.

//First, the lingo. The lingo is a little ridiculous…but here are some terms you might want to know.

  • Tweet. That’s your 140 character update.
  • Twitter-er. Coined by Twitter, that’s you.
  • Tumblelog. A blog where you write short posts rather than long posts (like this one.)
  • #hashtags. A means of joining broader conversations via tags. That’s fairly vague, but I’ll explain later in the post.

Next, let’s go through the average twirgin’s experience.

//in the beginning you have 0 followers, but you might be following 3 twitter-ers (probably Barack Obama, Kevin Rose, and your tech friend Mike at twitter.com/miketobias) You decided to use Twitter because you heard some friends buzzing about it. On your first day, you update twice. And then you think…this is it?

This is it? That phrase is so common amongst the twirgins. What’s so great about this?

I think this stems from twirgins who are used to Facebook status updates. And, at face value, Twitter and Facebook seem to overlap in the department of status updates.

And that’s the problem. Little twirgin, you have to look at Twitter as a tumblelog; and it starts getting cool because Twitter surpasses normal blogs in being social. So, Twitter is conversational whereas Facebook and Loopt are primarily for updates.

How is it conversational? It’s conversational in 2 ways, the @reply and the #hashtag. Let me break them delicately for your twirgin eyes.

1. The @reply. A twitter-er can include other twitter-ers in their tweet by adding the @ symbol in front of a user’s name.

Here’s an example tweet conversation:

miketobias: I’m so freaking tired of hearing about Rod Blagojevich!

twitterbud: @miketobias, me too. But I want to hear about @barackobama.

miketobias: @twitterbud David, I love @barackobama I’m going to get back to watching @maddow on MSNBC.

twittergal: @miketobias Mike! I’m watching @maddow right now too!

twitterdude: @miketobias, @twitterbud, @twittergal I think Obama’s stimulus plan sucks.

miketobias: @twitterdude Dad, I told you. It’s a good bill. Read about it at http://tr.im/fake

So, twirgin, you can see that your tweet becomes very interactive and spreads across several people.

How Twitter Changed the World: On his show, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez interacts with people via Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. While he uses all 3, he favors the real time interaction of the @reply. He will ask for people’s opinions, and viewers will use Twitter to reach him. “@ricksanchez I think press secretary Robert Gibbs was freaking awesome today!” You can follow @ricksanchez by going here.

Twirgin Silly Thinking: Well, @replies sound fine…but I can technically do that on Facebook. I can comment on people’s status updates.

Okay, that’s a good point still. Fundamentally, there is a similarity between Facebook and Twitter on that point. I choose to Twitter because the conversation is more global. It isn’t restricted to my friends or their friends…it’s open to everyone.

picture-2212. #hashtags. hashtags.org allows people to join a broader conversation on Twitter. You find popular topics on the website like Gaza, which is represented by the hashtag #gaza.

When you have a tweet to say about Gaza, you need to add that hashtag: “I think it’s a big mess in Gaza #gaza” This will bring your tweet to the discussion board on the site for others to read.

This will be an important step in finding followers. If someone thinks your commentary on Gaza is interesting…or they find it interesting that you’re talking about it…they might choose to follow you. And then the conversation can continue when they use an @reply. “@miketobias I think Israel needs to answer to the U.N. about the affected civilians. #gaza”

So, now that you understand (I hope) more about the interactivity of Twitter, let’s get you some followers to send @replies.

//Without followers, Twitter is pretty lame. I thought so at the beginning too. There’s a good chance your friends won’t be on Twitter. For me, out of my hundreds of Facebook friends only 6 are on Twitter. The same is true for many.

But that’s a good reason to be a social butterfly. Remember, a follower is not a friend. It’s just someone curious about your opinions or lifestyle.

Twirgin Silly Thinking: It’s always creepy friending strangers on Facebook. It’s going to be creepy following someone on Twitter.

That’s ridiculous.

After all Twitter is about putting your life in public. If someone didn’t want to be followed by others (and chances are most twitter-ers want to be followed by others) they would lock their profile. And sometimes that hasn’t stopped me from following people I thought were interesting.

Here are some ways to meet find new people to follow.

picture-2121. Twitter Search. Twitter Search is a service created by Twitter. It displays the highest trending words and #hashtags found in tweets. January 20th saw a rise in the terms Barack Obama, inauguration, #current. And Twitter Search lets you search for new terms. I’ve met people by searching “theatre.”

Anybody that’s tweeted about theatre in the last couple of seconds will be found.

If you like politics, you can search political words like “stimulus package” or “Hillary Clinton” to find people talking about those subjects.

Once you find an interesting twitter-er follow them. Not only that, send an @reply. Join their conversation! Give an interesting insight.

twitterstranger: I freaking love that new show on Discovery Channel One Way Out.

miketobias: @twitterstranger I love that we see a process. It’s not just one big trick; he tries to explain how he’s going to do it. Plus he can fail…adds suspense.

The conversation might stop there. That’s okay because Twitter is very easy going. You don’t have to follow twitterstranger, and they don’t have to follow you. The Twitter experience is akin to this situation: Two strangers see something in a pubic place, one makes a comment to the other about the event. You don’t plan on being bestfriends, but that’s no reason to stay silent with the stranger.

2. Treat your Twitter as a professional tool. If you’re going to put yourself out in the public world, you might as well look professional. That means no tweets about how drunk you got last night; Save that for your Facebook profile (with privacy settings.)

Twirgin Silly Thinking: Can something like Twitter really be taken that serious…I mean… Tweet really isn’t the most serious word…

With any tumblelog or blog, Twitter is a collection of your thoughts and interactions. So future professionals might reference them as an indicator of who you are. Twitter became serious when serious people took interested in it. Companies, managers, politicians made Twitter something serious.

So if it’s so serious, you can promote your Twitter profile without feeling too silly. Put your username (@miketobias) in public places. If you make a serious comment on a CNN story, put @username there too. Put it on your business cards, on your blog, on your Facebook profile, on email signatures.

People won’t think about following you unless you give them a good reason. Associating your Twitter username with your actions is a good reason.

//OTHER REASONS TO USE TWITTER. So now that you understand the REAL Twitter a little better. It’s time for you to start exploring the other ways Twitter is powerful.

Election. Twitter and Google Maps interacted with each other during the election to provide people real-time insights into their polling area. That means, via #hashtags, you could visit a website to see what people were saying about your polling place. The project made sure that nearly every polling place was represented on the map.

Now, the election is over. But the technology still exists, and it can certainly be used for more efficient community organization. Events like SXSW can offer Twitter-ers a better experience as they go about Austin, chasing their favorite bands.

Promotion. If you blog–and the stats show there’s a good chance you do–you can use Twitter to automatically promote your blog via TwitterFeed. The RSS will transferred to a tweet (with a link to your post.)

Plus you can promote your blog in tandem with #hashtags. If your blog is about theatre, use the #theatre hashtag to get your opinion out there for others to chime in.

Digest the News. The Internet provides you 3 ways to digest your news: visit a news site to browse, grab the RSS feed of that news site for your reader, and now Twitter. On Twitter you will see the headline and a link in each Tweet. If the headline is interesting, click the link. If not, move on. I don’t know of any instances where a news organization will respond to an @reply, but I think it’s a possibility in the near, near future.

Make money. If you want to sellout, there is a service that let’s you do it.  AdCause let’s you monetize your Twitter profile by advertising products and events via your tweets. So if you have tons of followers, you’ll make money. Maybe. It’s new. But it doesn’t hurt to try it!

//And all of this is just the beginning. People are very focused on Twitter as it develops quickly. Facebook tried to buy it, Twitter rightfully said no. It will be finding new ways to affect how we communicate.

Check it out. Don’t expect much to happen at first. But don’t be a wallflower. Find people, follow people, interact with people. Then you’ll get it.

Good luck, little twirgin.

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//Update 11:05 A.M. JAN 16

Here is a great video of the plane.

Plus a good example of a vlog on flight 1549. I hope you’re out there sharing your opinions via vids, and the comments on the following vid are a great read.

//UPDATE 10:55 A.M. JAN 16

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As I’ve said before, we’re all now fans of Capt. Sullenberger. Now you can show that respect and admiration via Facebook groups. There is one tribute group that already has 2,000+ members. It’s called “Pilot of Flight 1549 Chesley B. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III.” Folks have posted their thanks on the group’s wall, and some have joined the few discussions. One jumped out to me: “GIVE MONEY TO THE HERO?” People debate whether Sully should receive an award for his heroism, and I promise some great things have been said. Jump to the group>>

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This story has started to make an impression on the photo-sharing site Flickr. If you search “Flight 1549” you can find some interesting pictures of the crash site, like the one above. There are also photos of the flight path and survivors. Click here to jump to the search>>

Below, you can find a picture of the plane pre-crash.

//POST

U.S. Flight 1549 took off from La Guardia Airport this afternoon only to crash land moments later into the freezing Hudson River. Everyone is alive. That is, except for some geese (we think.)

Apparently, the smallest object can destroy the engine of a plane. Most of the time, pilots are on the look out for birds. A single bird can seriously damage that engine – so it stands to reason that a flock of geese could’ve caused 1549 to make an emergency landing.

So let’s see how it’s trending.

//Twitter

People normally use Twitter to send their followers short reports on major news events. You can still find some of those, but a large group of twitter-ers are sending their thanks to the pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger. He saved the day, and he deserves every bit of thanks.

picture-3In a very interesting move, Captain “Sully” is using Twitter sort of. A fan set up an account to honor him.

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And as you can see below, the event has dominated Twitter.

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//Google

Google shows that the plane crash is the hottest trend right now. All top 10 spots are search terms related to to the crash:

picture-51

In fact, it dominates nearly the entire top 100 search terms. People are looking for sites with coverage, and Google is certainly helping.


//Blogosphere

Here’s one blog with a picture of the plane moments before its landing.

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{via Switched}

Burger King is offering a free Angry Whopper (a spicy counterpart to their original flame-broiled treat.) But you’ve got to prove your loyalty to the king.

You need to add the Whopper Sacrifice Facebook app, and then the next part is fun! Burger King is asking you to boot 10 of your friends. Yup, these 10 will no longer be your friends on Fbook.

Now before you get scared that you’ll offend these people, remember one thing. These 10 people add nothing to your life while the Whopper adds deliciousness to your tastebuds. You can’t eat these friends. These friends are so worthless.

One other little thing, it lets those friends know you bumped them. So choose people who understand the words “FREE FOOD.” (So, basically, your friends still in college.) And you want to sacrifice friends who are willing to sacrifice you first. Once they’ve unfriended you, it’s too late to cut them. Every man for himself on the social web!

I already know 10 people I’m going to cut. Worried you’re on my chopping block? Maybe you should buy me a whopper. There’s a chance I won’t unfriend you. But 2 Whoppers does sound nice : D

Read more about the deal at the official website>>

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“Dude, tomorrow don’t sign onto your Facebook account.”

“Why?”

“Because we gotta show those Facebook admins that they can’t walk all over us! It’s a revolution against the new layout. You in?”

“No…”

“What? Dude, this is like tots important.”

“If you’re unhappy, why don’t you delete your account?”

“Because then I couldn’t use Facebook…”

Tomorrow, you can make an impact (not really) on Facebook. A group of people have decided to make a bold statement by not signing into their accounts for 24 hours. They’re pissed off that Facebook ignored their criticisms of the new layout, on top of other minor problems.

1 million people from around the world say they’re attending tomorrow’s blackout. That’s only 1% of Facebook’s total users.

So, I was not a fan of Facebook’s new layout. I hated it. I wrote letters to Facebook with curse words and dirty innuendos. (Maybe.) But now I dig it. I guess it was a lesson in how people resist change.

But tomorrow there will still be a blackout. Nothing will change Tuesday.

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