Theater lovers love to communicate with other theater lovers. They want to feel a connection with people who share their passions. They have a unique need to share their knowledge about the hottest show on Broadway and reaction to Patti LuPone’s latest cell phone tirade.
Organizations have their own needs as well. According to the Uses and Gratification Theory, companies should have an understanding about how media serves their needs. This understanding is based on the richness of media, which may include the availability for instant feedback and the capacity of the communication to communicate in various ways.
In terms of social media, “Forbidden Broadway’s” needs are to sell tickets and put people in seats. In order to do this, they should develop an active online presence. If people are attracted to the productions social media presence, they will be motivated to travel to New York City and attend the production as well.
Twitter is the best platform for “Forbidden Broadway.” Twitter easily facilitates quick conversations between users. “Forbidden Broadway’s” critical and humorous voice will flourish on Twitter. Each edition of Forbidden Broadway contains numerous “inside” theatre jokes and one-liners which are perfectly suited for tweets. “Forbidden Broadway’s” Twitter account has the potential to go viral.
Many prominent voices in the theatre industry, including Lin Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel), Jason Robert Brown (@MrJasonRBrown) and Jennifer Tepper (@jenashtep) actively engage their followers, both fans and colleagues in the industry, in conversations about the theatre. “Forbidden Broadway” needs to join this conversation.
As of Sept. 29, 2015, “Forbidden Broadway” (ForbiddenBwayNY) had 1,743 followers. Other current off-Broadway Twitters have been much more successful in gaining followers. For example, Avenue Q (@avenueqmusical) boasts 6,076 followers and Blue Man Group (@bluemangroup) features 25.7 thousand followers. While Broadway productions are much larger in scale than off-Broadway, “Something Rotten” has a very similar satiric tone and voice to “Forbidden Broadway.” To date, @RottenBroadway has 15.2 thousand followers.
Currently, “Forbidden Broadway’s” twitter presence is only active when the newest edition of the production is active off-Broadway. When the presence is active, it features occasional promotions for tickets, pictures of celebrities who have visited the show and shout-outs to other actors. The contests have very little participation and there is very little interaction with fans.
In order to gain followers, “Forbidden Broadway” needs to enhance the richness of its Twitter presence. One way to do this would be to develop a voice that emulates the nature of the production. An example of a theatrical Twitter presence that has a well-developed voice that emulates the tone of the production is “Something Rotten.”
Similar to “Forbidden Broadway,” “Something Rotten” is a satire of musical theatre. This satire does not stop in the theatre, however, as “Something Rotan’s” satirical voice is emulated through Twitter. One example of this is when the production made national headlines for its online reaction to its loss of the Best Musical Tony Award in June of 2015. The production tweeted a picture of their latest print ad in the New York Times, proudly declaring the production the “loser” of the Tony Awards. This effectively satirized Tony Winning productions, which almost always declare their winning status in their marketing campaigns immediately after the award ceremony ends.
With the hashtag #loseristhenewwinner, the tweet received 235 favorites and 98 re-tweet. In addition, many of the musical’s fans posted pictures of the ad and their Tweets were retweeted by the Twitter account. The New York Times posted an article on the success of the ad (granted, the ad ran in the New York Times) and several Broadway news sites posted about the ad as well.
In addition to the ad, the site maintains its voice through creating humorous gifs and memes containing lyrics from the musical. The site constantly re-tweets messages from fans, reminding Twitter followers that they care about and appreciate their fans.
It would also be useful for “Forbidden Broadway” to take lessons from Twitter sites that are not show-based as well. While Lin-Manuel Miranda is a composer and performer, he spends a lot of time promoting his latest production, “Hamilton,” on Twitter. Miranda currently has 84.2 thousand followers and tweets every single day.
Miranda has developed his own Twitter language, one that his followers are well-versed in. Miranda’s voice emulates his PuertoRican background and high energy personality. As “Hamilton” is making headlines for its unique sound, which is a hip-hop/rap retelling of the life of Alexander Hamilton, Miranda has a unique voice on Twitter as well.
The composer has coined the hashtags #twitterico and #yayhamlet, which are now part of the “inside” language of theatre lovers. He often sets aside hours of his day to take questions from fans. Miranda answers each question, often maintaining a full dialogue with his fans. Miranda currently has a Tweet pinned to the top of his profile that began the #yayhamlet hashtag. As of Sept. 29, the Tweet has 1.9 thousand retweets and 4.9 thousand favorites.
Although he has also written a quality product that received rave reviews from theatre critics, it can be argued that his active Twitter presence has contributed to the success of his production. “Hamilton,” according to Broadway.com, is currently the fourth most popular show on Broadway.
“Forbidden Broadway” would benefit from utilizing the techniques from “Something Rotten” and Lin Manuel-Miranda in order to further develop its voice. Do not be afraid to utilize the trademark Forbidden Broadway snark, it could result in follows and follows may result in tickets.