Followers have become my own personal Everest. I am utterly determined to attain them for one of the shows I’m working on at the Fringe this year. Actually, not just for one show, but for me… and for my production company…I’m happy to admit that I’m obsessed. Hello, I’m Katie and I’m a follower-a-holic.
Of course, I am referring to virtual followers, not actual, real life stalkers. Because who needs the real world now when we have an all-encompassing virtual one… Yesterday I witnessed (being ‘tagged’ in it meant I was obliged to witness) a rather lengthy and public tweet conversation between my cast members. With the knowledge that they will all see each other within days, it seemed odd to me that they would choose to converse in this fashion. And I wondered, with even the phone call seeming to be an increasingly rare occurrence, when did we stop talking?
Low budget shows (the vast majority of those at the Fringe) are becoming more and more reliant on social media as a marketing device. It’s accessible. It’s immediate. And, most importantly, it’s free. The quest for followers is endless, as are the lists of tips for success offered by anyone and everyone. The more followers you’ve got, the more people get the message. But I question whether this is the case. How many times have you spontaneously decided, off the back of reading a tweet, to buy a ticket? The Twitter-sphere is so over-saturated that most people’s immediate reaction to a tweet that’s trying to flog a ticket is to ignore it. We want photos, videos, witty hashtags… not another reminder that somebody is Edinburgh bound and “here’s the ticket link”.
So if we can’t rely on social media, what do we do? Offering something extra with a ticket to your show can help. Often something that creates a suitable ambience for the show can work well – a few years ago I, as it was in-keeping with the play, gave out tea and a biscuit to audience members. And this year comedian Richard Herring is really going the extra mile and giving out a free DVD to everyone who watches his show. But all of this costs money and with producing at the Fringe becoming increasingly expensive, there can’t always be room in the budget for these additions.
Despite the competition for followers that I have started with myself, the key to getting an audience is not in social media. It can help, yes. But it will not unlock the door to success. In fact, the most useful free marketing that exists is good old word of mouth. If you see a show you love, you’ll tell your friends and they’ll see it too. So stop tweeting about it. Put your efforts into making a brilliant show and get people talking again.
P.S. If you do want to follow me, I’m @KatiePesskin.