“It is kind of like a badge of honor for a brand to have someone say where they are, basically giving you an endorsement,” said Bazadona. “If someone goes to look for a show, they are going to look at consumer reviews.”
Knowing how to properly market to theatregoers on Twitter and Facebook requires an understanding of social networking etiquette — nothing is worse than reading one-way conversations about a product. However, when it comes to Foursquare, it requires little more than showing up to the game.
“What’s so excellent about Foursquare is that all a show really has to do is get on it,” said Jim Glaub, of Art Meets Commerce, a theatrical advertising agency that runs campaigns for such Broadway shows as Rock of Ages and A Little Night Music. Glaub first noticed Foursquare a couple months ago, and quickly realized that users were slowly beginning to connect it to Broadway theatres. “Only a couple people had checked in. So, one of the things we decided to do was put the shows we represented on there as actual venues. So, for Promises, Promises, we created the venue Promises, Promises Broadway Theatre.”
Now comes the test. Will theatregoers, a demographic traditionally skewing older than the twenty- and thirty-something crowd predominately using Foursquare, Gowalla and the like, adopt the idea of involving Broadway in their social conversations? A quick glance at Broadway venues on Foursquare on a recent Saturday night showed a handful of people checked in to various theatres.
“I’m proud, and also a bit embarrassed, to say that I was the mayor, for a week or so, of the St. James [Theatre] after American Idiot started previews,” said Allison Broder, a 24-year-old theatregoer and social networking user.
Despite Broder’s willingness to check-in to a Broadway theatre on Foursquare, she voices a concern that advertising and marketing firms should pay attention to. “There is nothing to really accomplish through checking in to venues, but it can help connect you to people who also love theatre.”
Beyond providing theatre enthusiasts an opportunity to connect with their own kind, why not create a greater incentive? If The Roxy, a concert venue in Los Angeles, can offer a free CD to anyone showing the merchandise booth that they checked in to the venue on Foursquare, Broadway can certainly offer similar promotions. After all, a Foursquare check-in can result in a tweet, or Facebook update, which helps create a word of mouth campaign.
Another feature of Foursquare is the push notification system, the latest way companies like the Wall Street Journal, the History Channel and VH1 are informing users about nearby venues or points of interest. They are adding to the conversation. Check-in to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, for instance, and a push notification might recommend another Broadway show.
“I think this is the most exciting time to be on Broadway,” said Bazadona. “If you look at our client list, the biggest shows are working with us. They are really trying to accept [online marketing] and embrace it.”
Broadway has the opportunity to get cutting edge. It’s time to start playing Foursquare.