Why do we obsess about THIS when we should obsess about THAT?

Boy did we fall for the oldest trick in the book.

There isn’t an ad meeting I go to where we don’t get a report on the number of Twitter followers, Facebook likes, or Instagram followers a show has.

We’ve been led to believe that massive  numbers of followers will mean massive numbers of sales.

And for theater, the truth is, that just isn’t true.  Especially since a show’s followers don’t have to be nearby, don’t have to have a license to drive, never mind the money to buy a ticket . . . etc.

Sure Kim Kardashian can move a t-shirt or a lipstick by tweetin’ a link or instagramming a  photo, but theater tickets don’t sell like that (you usually go with someone, you have to consult calendars, theatergoing requires travel, etc.)

Does that mean we shouldn’t build up big social media followings?  Of course not.  Social media is a part of the media mix in modern marketing, and it should be included in every campaign.  But you can’t depend on it for direct impact sales like so many do.

So why do we obsess over the number of followers and such?

Because we can SEE them.  Facebook, Twitter, etc., got us hook, “like” and sinker by putting our “number” right where everyone can see them.

Can you imagine what life would be like if you had to walk around with the number of  your ACTUAL friends branded on your forehead?  Wow.

We’ve gotten sucked down this social media wormhole of trying to build these followers, solely because they are public.  And we want more.  More.  MORE!

And this search for more “likes” distracted us from one of the best marketing sales machines that we do have, that many industries, especially ours, have forgotten all about.

Like I said, every ad meeting I go to includes a report on the number of social media followers a show has and how that has increased from the previous week.

Not ONE ad meeting I go to includes a report on the number of EMAIL addresses a show has, and how that has increased from the previous week.

This is despite the fact that email has constantly proven to be a much better driver of sales than social media (here’s just one of the many articles you can find online that defends this statement).

Lots of social media platforms have come/gone/morphed since the internet began . . . you know what hasn’t changed?  The basic email address.

In fact, if you ever doubt which is more important an email address or a social media account, think about it this way . . . You can’t even have a social media account WITHOUT an email address!

Yet, as an industry, we’re not trying to grow our lists, engage with our lists, and yes, even sell to our lists.

Honestly, it’s not the ad agencies fault . . . email marketing doesn’t fit within the ad agency model.  It’s a nook and cranny that I actually think should fall to a specialized marketer (ad agencies would have to charge too much to make it worth it).

We do ours in house now, for all our shows, because I know the power and the importance of it.

And if you’re doing a show, you should too.  Especially since everyone else is ignoring it.

(By the way . . . this theory goes for all you writers, directors, or any self-employed person.  Yes have social media accounts, but focus more time on an email list if you really want to grow your brand.  Need help?  Email me at ken@theproducersperspective.com and we’ll steer you and your show in the right emailable direction.)

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.