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What Force Facebook?

Monday, April 12, 2010 Leave a Comment

Our Facebook invite for Jacob's House was created this weekend - should you care to kindly signal your attendance there, do so by clicking here.

But as with our post last week on the ROI of postcards, I'm interested in looking at the costs and benefits of each aspect of our marketing/audience engagement.

While a Facebook invite doesn't cost anything other than the time to make and send it, it can suffer from and contribute to Facebook Fatigue. Additionally, the categories of Attending, Maybe Attending, Not Attending, and Awaiting Reply might be better described as In The Show/Maybe Attending, Probably Not Attending But Feel Guilty About It, I Live In Australia So Why Did I Get This Invite, and I Delete Every Email From You Oh Inbox Marauding Bastard; in that translated order.

What role do Facebook invites play in your decision making process? For me, I most often use them as signaling Yes on a show I've already decided to see. Additionally, I search for the Facebook invite when I'm looking to find info on the show quickly. Finally, when I see friends of mine going to see a show in my News Feed, it serves as a non-invasive reminder.

This is where I expect a Facebook invite does the most good - not as a first persuader, but as non-invasive reminder. To that end, for The Lesser Seductions of History, we asked silly questions about the 60's with a link to the invite. It was a way of engaging online in a fun, creative way that was connected to our full production, without that sweaty palmed desperation that sometimes accompanies reposted invites.

Did it make a difference in sales? That's hard to track. But the answers people came up with to those questions were a lot of fun, which may be reason enough to continue the practice with Jacob's House.

WNEP Founding Director Don Hall strikes at the heart of these questions with an informal poll he conducted in Chicago in his recent post, Vox Populi 1. The summary: Your Marketing Doesn't Matter. None of the random folks he interviewed at the gym and on the street listed Facebook or postcards as a reason they decided to see a play.

And on the other hand (or on a different finger of the same hand), Flux's Fanpage has 1,212 peeps. Jacob's House has 15 performances in a 62 seat house. At 930 total seats for the run, Flux already knows enough people to sell every single seat and them some. So the questions isn't just how do we reach those folks in Don Hall's poll who don't see theatre and don't care about postcards; the question is how do we convince those who do see theatre and care about Flux to take that next step, carve out a night of their (your) busy schedule, and see our show.

I saw Glee Club because I was long overdue to see a play of Matt Freeman's (and because I love the work of Matthew Trumbull and Steve Burns); I'll be seeing Erin Browne's Trying because Flux developed it (and I know how good it is); I'll be seeing The Tender Mercies because the director (Jessi Hill), one of the actors (Gregory Waller), and the set designer (James Hunting) are artists I've worked with and admired; I'm hoping to see The Aliens by Annie Baker because Circle Mirror Transformation was so good. Facebook didn't make any of that happen...but I did click "Attending" on 3 of those 4 Events...

What do you think? Is it Facebook fatigue or helpful reminder?

7 comments »

  • Jamespeak said:  

    As an attendee, I definitely get Facebook fatigue, and often click "Yes" on the events I was planning on going to with or without the invite.

    However, this is just me. I know a number of people who solely organize their show-going schedules and get kept in the loop via Facebook alone. I remember once asking a friend if he got the email I sent him about one of my shows; he stared at me blankly and asked if I sent a Facebook invite. I hadn't, and he said: "That's why this show is news to me."

    I think it's all part of that adage about advertising and publicity: "Look, we know that 75% of what we're doing is a waste of time. But we don't know which 75%, so we have to do it all."

  • Don Hall said:  

    I, like James, tend to gloss over an awful lot of FB traffic.

    That said, even for me (one who has vested interest in theater) the best marketing isn't about selling me something, it's about simply letting me know it exists.

    Your 1,212 fans have already expressed interest in your stuff. All you need to do for them is let them know you have a show and leave it at that.

    Like the old Saturn showroom approach - don't sell, inform. Don't peddle, make available.

    If you can get the information out there and remove obstacles for people to get tickets, find the place, park and find the venue, you have done all you need to do.

  • August Schulenburg said:  

    James,

    I love that 75% quote - I wish there was a way, once someone had purchased a ticket, to remove them from future communications that are primarily ticket sales based. Not sure how to do that, though...maybe it could be a feature of whatever Fractured Atlas is designing with ATHENA.

    Don,
    I agree about selling something - I think most people see right through anything that smacks of huckster.
    I also think that Facebook can be used to extend the production both before and after, giving those who have seen the play a chance to riff on it, and those who haven't a chance to get a better sense of what it's all about, and make a more informed decision on whether they should go.
    Or at least, I'm interested in exploring if the above is possible without becoming too much noise...

  • Anonymous said:  

    There's something to be said for not overselling to people, particularly to your base. However, I subscribe to certain Rules of 3. The first Rule of 3 is: People generally need 3 reasons to do something (convenient location, cheap tix, know someone involved--or some combination thereof). The second Rule of 3 is: People generally need to hear about something 3 times before they add it to their mental rolodex. So FB invites definitely play a part, yes?

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum said:  

    Anon,

    I once read that the actual rate of messages received to actions taken by a person is 5:1. That is, you need to see an ad 5 times before it has an appreciable effect on your purchasing behavior. The obvious, and current, solution is to give people your ad message 5+ different ways -- postcard, email(s), face-to-face request(s), facebook invite, twitter. Hopefully it will stick as a result, but I know it's annoying.

  • Matt A said:  

    I like being reminded a lot about something I really want to see. For some reason I put off buying tickets for all sorts of things for a while. It's hard to commit early to something...

    James - love the quote

    Gus - what newsletter system do you use? With the newsletter systems I've used in the past (iContact, MyNewsletterBuilder), you can simply enter the emails of the ticket purchasers into a spreadsheet and enter them into your system as a temporary list, then subtract that list from a send.

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum said:  

    Matt, we use Constant Contact.