A wild leopard climbs a net after falling into a water reservoir tank in India. The animal was rescued by the Sukna Forest rescue team from the Mahananda Wildlife sanctuary in India by lowering a ladder and a net into the tank. — Diptendu Dutta, AFP/Getty Images, June 20, 2012
Dr Sampurna Roy @DrSampyRoy
“@Serarc: All great changes are preceded by chaos. Deepak Chopra RT @twowisegals @khaaymar”
Rich Briere @richbriere
NEW RULE! (bows to @billmaher) From now on the ENTIRE Election Process must be squeezed into a one month presentation–beginning to end!!
Jerry M Schott @JerryMSchott
A genius is just a talented person who does his homework. -Thomas A. Edison
“It is not flesh and blood but the heart that makes a father.” ~ Johann Schiller
To Tweet Or Not To Tweet?
by Chris Warren, American Way June 1, 2012
That is the question being asked by a growing number of performing-arts venues, which are setting aside seats for social-media lovers.
Tara Gustman is just the sort of person the Palm Beach Opera wants to attract. Although she’s athletically inclined — interested especially in working out and marathons — Gustman, from Florida, says it has long been in the back of her mind to attend an opera. And it might have just remained something on her bucket list if it hadn’t been for social media. Indeed, after responding to a posting on the Palm Beach Opera’s Facebook page, Gustman recently found herself watching a free performance of Madame Butterfly in a section made up primarily of other opera novices. The one condition? As they took in the sights and sounds of the opera, Gustman and her cohorts had to share their thoughts on Twitter.
“The show was amazing,” says Gustman, who was invited to attend the company’s final dress rehearsal by the opera’s marketing director. “I love fashion, and all the costumes were stunning.” The only downside to the experience for Gustman was the challenge of reading the translations of the Italian lyrics projected below the stage fast enough to still be able to tweet. “You read the subheads and then you listen to them sing the chords, and then you’ve got to tweet with enough time to look up again,” she recalls. “You have to be able to multitask.”
Gustman is not alone in facing that challenge. In fact, she is one of a growing number of opera-, symphony- and theatergoers around the country who are attending free shows and sitting in what have come to be called “tweet seats.” From Palm Beach, Fla., to Nashville, Tenn., and from New York to Los Angeles, performing-arts venues are looking to tap into the sort of social-media buzz that can be generated by enthusiastic tweeters like Gustman. According to Ceci Dadisman, who heads up marketing efforts for the Palm Beach Opera, offering tweet seats is a way to both reach out to potential customers and also to tap into the sway they have with their Twitter followers. In other words, it’s a way to take advantage of the power of word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age. “There’s something about that actual personal recommendation, especially for something like opera or ballet or theater,” Dadisman says. “I think it can hold more weight for the average person than any of the marketing material I might send them.”
In a sense, the emergence of tweet seats as a tool to create excitement about a performance is a simple acknowledgment of how people communicate today. Neighbors still lean over white picket fences to share their thoughts about a movie or a play they saw the other night, but that conversation is just as likely to occur through social-media avenues like Facebook and Twitter. Encouraging and becoming part of that conversation are the main reasons venues like the Nashville Symphony offer tweet seats.
“Our social-media mission is to be available to anyone who wants to explain, describe and share their experiences with others,” says Nancy VanReece, who heads up social-media efforts for the symphony, which will begin offering tweet seats to patrons this month.
But just offering tweet seats and letting people broadcast their instant reactions to a performance is a small part of the potential, says VanReece. As anyone who has read a lot of tweets knows, the quality and insights shared vary dramatically. So part of the promise is in finding people who actually have interesting things to say. “We live in Nashville so we have the luxury of having lots of people who really know music,” VanReece says. But another way to augment the chances that those seated in tweet seats will provide intriguing commentary — and to enhance the experience of tweeters themselves — is by making sure they’re well educated about what they’re seeing. “There’s one constant in social media: People share things that are cool, funny or surprising,” she says. To make sure tweeters are well armed, the Nashville Symphony will provide them with production notes and inside information designed to add richness to tweets.
From the very start, the palm beach Opera’s Dadisman knew there were some challenges involved with inviting strangers to come and sit in the tweet seats they made available. Before extending a single invitation, she wanted to make sure that those who would attend didn’t have a history of posting profanity or anything potentially offensive. Dadisman made sure the people she invited were regular users of Twitter who produced mostly original content rather than reposting things others had said. “Some people just wanted free tickets and created Twitter accounts that morning,” she recalls about some of the responses she got after advertising the tweet seats. Once she eliminated those who were clearly not a good fit for the seats, Dadisman looked to see how many followers each had, though she said that was not a determining factor in who was invited. “That is not as important to me, because there can be effective users of Twitter who don’t have thousands of followers,” she says.
By offering tweet seats for the final dress rehearsal, the Palm Beach Opera avoided what some consider to be the biggest danger in allowing people to pull out their smartphones and tap away during a performance: annoying everyone around them. This was a conscious decision, and other venues — such as the Nashville Symphony — have designated seating for tweeters, away from the rest of the audience. Nicole Ames, a social-media consultant with Twist IMC in Boston, says the annoyance factor of people bathed in the light of their phones is a legitimate concern. “Some people follow performances to be immersed and to escape the connected world, if only for a while,” she says. “Can you be sure that a little bit of publicity is worth alienating your core fans?” Ames, who recognizes the benefits of tweet seats and can see how they can be effective marketing tools, also warns that there are no guarantees that those invited will write positive things. “If there are mistakes or multiple negative reviews, this could be bad news for future ticket sales,” she says.
Gabe Aldridge, a founding member of the Atlanta-based The SuperGroup, an interactive and digital-marketing agency, takes a different view of the potential tweet seats have to annoy other audience members. “These kinds of detractors will just have to be politely ignored,” he says.
“Rather than being perceived as an affront to the arts, this kind of social behavior should be seen as a new way to validly enjoy a live performance. Let’s face it: A lot of people like toThese are not concerns that Philip Galinsky has. As a producer of The Manhattan Monologue Slam, which asks audience members to compete by delivering their best two-minute monologue onstage, Galinsky uses social media as often as possible for promotional purposes and to engage the audience. This, of course, ultimately leads to more promotion. In fact, Galinsky encourages the entire audience to tweet. “This is content that promotes what we do, and we want all of our audience to continue to be brand ambassadors of the slam,” he says.
But Galinsky and The Manhattan Monologue Slam take things a bit further than giving the audience free rein to whip out their phones and tweet to their hearts’ content during a performance. The audience actually decides who wins each slam by voting with their smartphones. He says this voting has boosted interest from possible sponsors and Web advertisers — plus, the show’s member database has grown by 30 percent in just two months. For Galinsky, the strength of tweet seats and social media inThese are not concerns that Philip Galinsky has. As a producer of The Manhattan Monologue Slam, which asks audience members to compete by delivering their best two-minute monologue onstage, Galinsky uses social media as often as possible for promotional purposes and to engage the audience. This, of course, ultimately leads to more promotion. In fact, Galinsky encourages the entire audience to tweet. “This is content that promotes what we do, and we want all of our audience to continue to be brand ambassadors of the slam,” he says.
But Galinsky and The Manhattan Monologue Slam take things a bit further than giving the audience free rein to whip out their phones and tweet to their hearts’ content during a performance. The audience actually decides who wins each slam by voting with their smartphones. He says this voting has boosted interest from possible sponsors and Web advertisers — plus, the show’s member database has grown by 30 percent in just two months. For Galinsky, the strength of tweet seats and social media in general is that it turbocharges digital word-of-mouth marketing to the point that it makes an age-old profession irrelevant. “The theater critic who writes for the traditional media is no longer the theatergoer’s or producer’s resource,” he says.general is that it turbocharges digital word-of-mouth marketing to the point that it makes an age-old profession irrelevant. “The theater critic who writes for the traditional media is no longer the theatergoer’s or producer’s resource,” he says.talk about what they are experiencing, and tweet seats allow them to do so without making a sound,” he says.
Photos: Dina Goldstein
@twowisegals My life just got changed by that quote. Thanks for posting it!
… in response to …
Jen N’ Joni @twowisegals
“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Einstein
The easiest way for me to tell if my GF is listening to me is to see if she’s rolling her eyes.
I’m single because I’m pretty good at recognizing crazy.