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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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So, the New York Times put a mortgage on its building to help pay the bills. Uh oh…

That’s not good. That’s what my uncle does when he needs to pay the bills, and that means newspapers are screwed. We’ve all thought it. Online news has already become vastly more popular than its paper cousin.

The big problem is that news organizations are now financially sick in this recession. Really sick. I mean, Lifetime sick.

And sadly there are few alternatives to the current revenue models. If money doesn’t flow in, we’re bound to lose some of our favorite features on these news sites. That means in this globalized world, it’ll be tougher and slower to get news updates from these orgs.

Here are 2 possible replacements:

///Subscription Based Websites

OH GOD PLEASE NOOOOOO!!!! We’ve grown used to free news. Not just any free news, good free news. It’d be a different story if I only read Arlington Star Telegram for free. But I read the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, New York Times, and L.A. Times.

Ads can’t cover the costs of running a paper the size of the NYT or Post, especially when advertisers are getting smaller budgets. Suddenly a full-page ad in the paper seems like a bad idea when they can reach more people with TV or Google ads.

Subscriptions could eliminate ads from the sites. Some blogs and news sites already do it. (Daily Kos comes to mind.) This might not be so bad. (It f***s my wallet though.)

I also have a problem with this model because it lacks the openness that exists throughout the web. It’s a little blow to net neutrality – many people from across the world wouldn’t have access to these great resources.

But, before that future looks too bleak, let’s move on.

///Social News

Papers face a major challenge on the web: minute-by-minute content. Back in the day papers could mollify readers with 3 updates in a day, but our generation needs a larger amount of content and updates. Advertisers need more content to ensure their ads are seen by a large amount of traffic.

So, news sites have several features that are fatty, features that can be cut. Say no to fatties!! Erm, fatty content. Let’s move onto my point…

These news sites do not have to be responsible for this content.

Some examples:

The New York Times collaborate with a local TV news station. The station uploads video content via the New York Times site, sends over some employees to New York Times,  and uses a social site like YouTube or Vimeo to upload the embeddable videos to the news site. This would cut back the need to tape reporters (like the Times does), and it empowers people to spread the news, which would bring more traffic to your site to satisfy your advertisers (even though they’re already slapping an ad before your site’s vid…)

Invest in developing a social news site. Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, proved to us that articles can go viral. I’ve been waiting for a news site with social actions similar to Digg. Hasn’t happened. Ugh. Silly newspapers, you think that adding comments t your articles is enough. NOOO!!! You need to add interactive ranking to your articles, plus allow comments on comments, and ranking on comments…like Digg.

Then your site becomes an experience.

Millions of people waste time on Digg just commenting and ranking comments…If you add that to your site, your advertisers will pay attention to your higher traffic. Oh yeah, like big dogs eyeing your meaty steak. TASTY TRAFFIC!!!

Oh yes, the future doesn’t look so bad. Plus I’m sure the New York Times will eventually benefit from no longer worrying about the distribution and production of papers. And sadly no longer worrying about those salaries of people it cut from those sectors…sigh…recession’s suck.


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Earlier this month, MySpace unveiled an application from Hulu that would let users post their favorite shows onto their profiles. Now Facebook, via its powerful app platform, will let users do the same. You will start seeing apps for specific shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Family Guy, all streamed via Hulu.

You will be able to discuss the show with other users, watch bloopers, share episodes. Yes, TV has been kidnapped by social media. All the activity we normally do on other sites, will now be packaged on Facebook.

Facebook blogger Josh Elman also diagnoses the final days for the Nielson Media Center’s ratings department. Them’s fighting words, but they’re dead on. A show’s popularity will now be measured by the number of fans for the particular show’s app.

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