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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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(Michael steps into his home to find his blog sitting on the couch.)

Michael: Hey, honey.

Blog: Hello, Michael. You’re in late.

Michael: I brought home Chinese. I got your favorite: shrimp lo-mein

Blog: What? You should’ve called. I spent the last two hours cooking you dinner.

Michael: Oh. Then I’ll put this in the–

Blog: You’ve been coming home late all week.

Michael: Right, well work. You know work.

Blog: You work from home.

Michael: Right. But…

Blog: What’s her name??

Michael: Oh god. Okay…I can’t do this anymore. You deserve better. Her name is Twitter.

Blog: Michael, how could you?

Michael: Twitter, well, it’s just newer and — and

Blog: Younger. How old is Twitter?

Michael: It’s not important.

Blog: Oh god, she IS younger than me.

Michael: Look, if it’s any consellation, I still think you’re a more reputable source of information. Maybe slower…

Blog: Slower!?

Michael: No, I mean. Uhhh, I used to take so much time working on you..

Blog: So I’m a piece of work!?

Michael: No, no, no…Damn it. It’s just you both serve different purposes. When I’ve thought about something, and I mean really thought about something, you’re where I put that information. While Twitter, well, Twitter–

Blog: Is where you get your kicks, hm?

Michael: No. Just. Communicate. I get to communicate with more people. There’s a conversation. Here I would probably reach a few people with my posts, but Twitter let’s me converse with so many more.

Blog: So you’re saying I’m obsolete…oh god, Michael…

Michael: Blog, no. Don’t think that! What we have is still special…even though…uhm, I’m not really sure what we have now. I’m figuring out how to use you.

Blog: Hmph, I already feel used.

Michael: Ugh, no, I mean I’m not deleting you.

Blog: You’re not?

Michael: No. I’ll find a way to utilize you, and I swear we’ll both grow from there.

Blog: Oh, Michael, you’ve made me the happiest blog on the planet.

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picture-31Yesterday Facebook added the Like feature (as seen next to the comment button in the pic). The button mimics Digg and other social sites, allowing users to show their support of a user’s action without commenting. It saves some time, but is it really necessary?

As someone in awe of the Twitter movement, I’ve got to compare the microblog to Facebook. The former is blissful simplicity, and the latter looks like a blob engulfing other site’s ideas. Facebook is now a cocktail made from Twitter, WordPress, Digg, Flickr, and Hulu. It’s all those services centralized. The problem is centralization doesn’t equal an effective user interface. It can, but how do we define Facebook now? It used to be defined as “a place where we caught up with distant friends.” Now, the definition is convoluted.

Our Facebook accounts are cluttered with so many interactions, and it seems Twitter has focused those interactions into 4 primary means. Twitter isn’t just simpler, it’s more conductive. Our interactions on Twitter happen with ease. Let me show you.

Let’s say I want to talk about “In the Beginning” at Dallas Theater Center on Facebook:

  1. First, I choose how I’ll talk about it. I can make a status update (probably the easiest); I could write a note (more lengthy); I can go to a theater group (reach a target audience who cares about what I say); or I can comment on Dallas Theater Center’s page (people definitely care.)
  2. So let’s go to the next step in the interaction for each one (sigh). I write a status update that I enjoyed the show, and people can write their comments agreeing or disagreeing as well as pushing the new like button. Easy enough. Writing a note. I will get out my full opinion, tag some friends, and in return they can comment on the note. Theater group. I can start a discussion group and post the first comment, and people can continue the discussion with their own comments. Bonus: I might reach people who aren’t my friends. Dallas Theater Center’s page. I can comment on the page, and maybe someone from DTC will respond to my review as well as friends and new people.

Okay….wow….that was a lot. Now let’s look at Twitter. If I liked the show, I can tweet:

I ❤ @dallastheater‘s new production “In the Beginning.” It’s brilliant, riveting; acting = superb #theater.

And…I just did everything that Facebook can do in my 1 tweet. I got my review out in the same amount of characters as a status update, people can respond to me with the @reply, my hashtag will reach theater people, and @replying DTC will let them know about my review….

Thus, I rest my case that Facebook is becoming more cluttered than effective.

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picture-7Okay, I’m like freaking out, man. The more I submerse myself into Twitter, the more I realize a future problem. Yes, it’s in my title. I fear we’re fiercely pushing towards the tipping point.

Think about it…

Twitter is the ultimate tool for conversation, and we have two types of twitter-ers. These early adopters are either building their Godin-like tribes (creating unique content that will inspire a following), or they are creating a low demand for information.

I grow suspicious of the twitter-er who follows 16,000 and has 14,000 followers. Is that person really listening to those 16,000, or just offering a common courtesy. That’s bad. See, there could be a high supply of people speaking on Twitter with a low demand from the listeners.

Information is a precious commodity. We can’t treat it like a mass produced pair of sneakers because quality counts with information. This high supply/low demand situation waters down the quality of tweets. Why speak when nobody’s listening? It’s the same thing that happened to blogs. Right now, because of sites like Huffington Post and Perez Hilton, we’re seeing a second upswing of interest in blogs. The first upswing had a big crash – everyone opened Live Journal and Xanga accounts, started speaking, and then stopped.

Why did they stop? Because there were too many speakers, not enough listeners. We got bored with our blogs because nobody was reading them.

Twitter is at the start of the upswing. It’s going to get more popular, but I don’t want to see the same crash happen to it.

Make your tweet count. Here’s some advice on shaping your content and conversations:

  • Don’t follow someone unless you want to listen to them and converse with them. If they’re tweeting useful information, they will find followers elsewhere.
  • Find a niche in #hashtags. Converse with other twitter-ers talking about the niche topics relevant to your content.
  • Read Seth Godin’s Tribes.
  • Make your Twitter soap box matter by spreading your thoughts, revelations, and expertise.
  • If you’re going to converse via Twitter, make it a conversation that more than 2 people will care about.
  • Retweet the relevant. Twitter is the conversation that’s happening now (loosely translated from @unmarketing‘s famous tweet.) Don’t retweet the trivial – remember it is a recommendation.
  • And it’s still okay to share your life. Sometimes we’re following because you do exciting things!
  • Use TweetDeck: if you’re going to truly interact and deliver relevant content, TweetDeck helps you. It gives notifications of new tweets and @replies to you, let’s you shorten URLs to share, connects with TwitPic, and simplifies all of these actions.

Don’t have a Twitter account yet? Sign up. And then follow @miketobias (haha…but only if you think I have something to say.)

Have an account? You can tweet this: http://tr.im/em9e

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Football fans tweeted the big game tonight, and with the help of #hashtags the entire game, including moment-to-moment twitter-er commentary was recorded.

Twitter-ers added #superbowl to their tweets about the game. This enabled the site hashtags.org to chronicle the game. You can now browse a total of 8,000+ tweets by clicking here. You can see people’s reactions to all the big moments, as well as people interacting with each other.

The other news is that 3,000+ twitter-ers chose to follow @superbowl to get an experience beyond NBC’s coverage. The twitter-er offered behind the scenese updates as well as some commentary (like below.)

picture-1

If anybody knows the man behind the @superbowl twitter curtain, email me.

This was a first attempt. I don’t see most twitter-ers being sports fans, but maybe that’ll change by next year.

// Some people used the #hashtags Cardinals and Steelers. Which one got more tags? Sigh, the Steelers. The Steeler nation tweets…What can be done?

Share my post. Tweet it: http://tr.im/e3tv

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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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picture-181140it is a service that shortens the words in your longer Tweets so that they fit under the 140 character limit. There are similar services like Tweet140, but 140it excels in having a toolbar add-on for you to shorten your tweets on ur, excuse me, your Twitter home page.

So, the only question left is…y?

Twitter-ers don’t have to restrict themselves to one update per thought or event. Famous twitter-ers often use multiple tweets to express something. That’s where Twitter becomes a different beast.

I started following @tweettheatre and, still a Twitter virgin, it was the first place I’d seen a multiple tweet post in which Dallas based theatre critic Mark Lowry gave his top 10 shows over 10 tweets. He could’ve easily blogged about it and tweeted a link. That’s how most people do it, but he expanded his top shows across his Twitter profile.

And I have seen it since. @hodgman often has multiple tweet thoughts. And it takes nothing away from the effect of a picture-201microblog.

So u can crtnly shrtn ur twts. 140it is th best. Jst dn’t abuse it. Some of still get bothered by unnecessarily short words.

{via TechCrunch}

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