Until a few weeks ago, I rather naively thought social networking in general and Facebook in particular were finally on their way out. Yes there had been a brief revival of interest when ‘The Social Network’ was declared high brow, but with the Oscars over that has soon been forgotten. I gave a sigh of relief as I noted that the only people still updating their statuses were the die hard facebookers, and for them this is merely a natural reflex. No longer would I look like a social disaster for never having updated my status, and freedom from the friend count would reign.
However, to my dismay, three weeks ago both Facebook and Twitter made an unwelcome return to my life. For every single theatre project I am currently involved with I have been asked to use both of these sites. My response of “I don’t really do that” was met with some confusion as to why not. It would seem that as an aspiring producer these sites are tools you can’t live without. So now I must tweet at least once a day whilst simultaneously updating and inviting on Facebook. My initial thought was “Oh crap, do I have to?”.
You may be wondering why I have such a problem with social networking. Is it down to a previous bad Facebook-stalking experience or am I just a bit of a loner? And you may also be thinking how I could have missed the fact that social networking is a free and very successful way of marketing a show. The truth is I didn’t miss this point and I have always embraced them as a marketing technique for theatre. My reluctance towards social networking this time is that I will have to tweet as myself, not under the guise of a theatre or company, meaning my thoughts and experiences will be the focus of the 140 character limit. So, essentially this means marketing myself as a producer, and through this marketing the shows that I am involved with. So I will be selling my producing skills in a very open and conscious way, and I am wondering who is going to want to hear about that?
I realise that I write this blog which I dedicate each week to my producing experiences, and one could argue this is the same as tweeting about myself. But for me this blog is not about marketing myself and telling everyone how great I am. To be honest, it is probably having the opposite effect. My aim with this blog is to share an honest account of my often steep learning curve. And through doing this I hope to start a dialogue with other theatre makers who are going thorough the same thing. But with only 140 characters on Twitter and the added pressure of getting followers I am not sure how honest one can be. Another rather worrying fact about social networking is the fact that some future employers may actually look at your pages and take this into consideration. One director I spoke to who is an avid tweeter said that although they tweet up to ten times a day they always imagine their employer is reading it, a good piece of advice I would say.
Yet despite my moaning, I am now on Twitter (@pippahowie) and I am giving it a go. Because there is a chance that I have missed the point and actually this is an untapped goldmine. With only a handful of followers and a tendency to forget to tweet I am wondering how helpful it can be. But I guess I can’t knock it until I have tried it.