Tonight I'm off to run around a car park in a tracksuit and fake Ugg Boots carrying an Argos DVD player. Despite living in Croydon this isn't a usual Thursday night, my theatre group are filming a video promo for Macbeth.
I can just about remember a time when theatre companies promoted productions by writing letters and badgering shops to put a flyer up in the name of community spirit. Today I have moved most of my marketing online because that's where people look and because I can do so much for free.
So in the name of creative Facebook hassle we've teamed up with a local filmmaker to record a viral which I've written. Yes, to claim to have written a viral before recording it is like claiming to have penned a Booker Prize winner before publication. But I'm quietly confident because I only need this video to reach a moderately small Facebook network, most of whom also participate in the local arts scene. And I've included the three things necessary to achieve the 'likes' I'm after.
- Lots of people's friends will be in the video
- Someone gets hit by an egg
- It will be short and suitable to watch at work (SFW)
Video marketing our plays in the social sphere of Facebook has taken off in a way that the video sections of our websites at work haven't really managed yet. I think this is probably because our B2B advertisers are not yet providing video footage which features people in their industry being hit by an egg. We should be recommending that to them.
Unfortunately my colleagues, who work mostly in print, already look at me as if I am Nathan Barley when I pitch a particularly 'innovative' new media idea like this. (If you don't know who Nathan Barley is please Google it, but the episodes are probably NSFW.) If you work in the New Media division of a publishing company you will know exactly the look I am talking about. It's similar to the Andrew Langsely look (the one he gives pensioners when they stop him on the street and ask him to reconsider NHS reform.) The Nathan Barley Look basically says 'You're an idiot and you've taken this idea too far.'
One of the first times I received the Nathan Barley Look was in a meeting four years ago, when I suggested we all promote our publications on Twitter. I explained that I had found many of our audience were already using it to interact with each other. Most of the people in the room looked scared, some confused, and a couple looked at me like I was Nathan Barley. I have now learned to consider this a pretty successful meeting.
These days Twitter is so widespread in our company that we've even got a new Social Media Policy to argue about. It's a key driver of traffic to our websites and the people creating this traffic are our editors and journalists, not just us techies.
So I recently took the idea of marketing on Twitter back to Breakfast Cat Theatre. In Macbeth I'm playing the Thane of Ross, a dull character who usually appears on stage to let everyone know about important plot points. In my head I refer to the Thane of Ross as Captain Exposition. Our Macbeth is set during the London riots, so I figure Ross is probably the looter on Twitter and her Blackberry letting people know which branch of JG Sports to hit next.
So I suggested to the rest of the cast that I start a Twitter account for Ross to help promote the production. And I asked if anyone else would be interested in starting an account for their character so we could tweet to each other.
Cue the Nathan Barley Look.
When I get the Nathan Barley Look I can never quite work out if I'm slightly mad, or everyone else is. So I started the Twitter account anyway, to see if it actually was a good idea.
Yesterday our producer got an email from a playshakespeare.com, who have never been to any of our productions before, asking if they could review Macbeth. As a small company, getting a large website with qualified reviewers to attend the show is a big deal for us. I'm 99% certain that the only way they found out about our production was because @ThaneOfRoss tweeted at them.
So not all of us New Media people are Nathan Barley. And if @ThaneofRoss is a good idea then it follows that having people being hit by eggs in ALL of your online video footage is a winner too. Logic.
Follow Ellie Dawes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrsJelly