Thu, September 24, 2009
It’s been a hot topic for some time now – the question of whether or not your brand should have a presence on the popular social networks of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
I’ve been away for the past few months and have taken a significant amount of time to focus specifically on this topic. The goal - to outline the key opportunities for live event producers and to provide insight that will help them evaluate if the costs justify the investment.
To start, I think it’s important that you have a snapshot of the current social networking space. There are over 100 million consumers that now belong to a social network. Facebook has emerged as the leading social network of choice with over 120 million visitors monthly. MySpace, once the leading social network, is now a distant second in terms of visitors and has not seen any sustainable growth as of late. And, finally, Twitter has emerged with rapid growth over the past year and is poised to catch MySpace as the second most popular social network at their current pace. Take a look at the chart below.
According to our survey, aside from these major social networks, we see some Broadway consumers engaging in specific niche networks like BroadwaySpace (6.1%) which has gained some traction over the past year. For the most part though, all of our data points to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter as the leaders by far in terms of reaching the most Broadway consumers. For the sake of our research, I've put most of the focus on Facebook and Twitter (not MySpace) as they currently serve as the networks most of the current shows are using today.
How does the Broadway ticket buyer differ in usage patterns?
To try and understand the specific usage patterns of Broadway consumers, the first part of our research dealt with analyzing approximately 1,100 survey responses given online to Broadway ticket buyers during the month of July 2009 that asked them about their social networking usage. To check for any abnormal or seasonal skews in data, we compared this data against the 11,000 completed surveys we’ve done since the beginning of the year but saw no abnormalities.
According to the survey, here’s what we learned:
- 66.8% of total respondents said they belong to a social network.
- Approximately 50% of those that belong to a social network were over the age of 24.
- Of those that belong to a social network, 91.1% use Facebook regularly.
- Of those that belong to a social network, 27.2% use Twitter regularly.
- MySpace continues to show a steady decline in usage at 27.2%. When we looked at a month-by-month comparison in our survey results, we are able to see MySpace is rapidly being surpassed by Twitter as the second most popular social network among Broadway consumers.
I do want to point out that this is an online survey so you could assume these numbers skew slightly higher than the entire general population of all ticket buyers that would include those that don’t use the Internet regularly.
Who are these people? Are they new audiences or are we preaching to the converted?
The second part of our research aimed to try and learn more about users of Facebook and Twitter and how their behavior differed from the general online population. One way that we felt we could do this was by looking at users on Facebook and Twitter and track their activity when they clicked out to Broadway show official websites. For example, a consumer is on Facebook or Twitter – then clicks on a link that directs them to the official website. We have systems in place that can track their behavior.
Using the same analytics platform across three different websites of musicals that opened this past season, first we set out to gain a perspective of how the general population acted when visiting the official websites. We were able to review over 200,000 visits and 800,000 page views over the month of July 2009. This gave us a benchmark of how the general population views Broadway show websites. Next, we looked just at those that specifically visited the official show website from Facebook or Twitter to look for differences in usage.
Read on for a breakdown of what we learned.
Facebook traffic versus the general population
After a review of 1,630 visits comprising of 12,604 page views on Broadway show official websites that we could determine originated from Facebook, we found the following:
- Visitors to the official website from Facebook are more likely to have visited the website in the past than the general population. 39% of visits to the official website that came from Facebook were new visitors compared to 65% of the general population that visits the official website.
- Visitors from Facebook are significantly more engaged with website content visiting 30% more pages per visit and spending 40% more time on the site that the general visitor profile. This remains true with new visitors from Facebook as well.
- Visitors from Facebook are more likely to seek out additional information about the show (cast, news, synopsis) before visiting the ticketing page of the website.
What do we take away from this? These are consumers that are actively engaged and are seeking show content whether to re-immerse with the brand or to explore ways to learn more. There a significant number of active, engaged new visitors that we believe creates a two-fold opportunity for Broadway - incremental sales and the ability to harness your most passionate brand advocates.
Twitter traffic versus the general population
After a review of 3,495 visits comprising of 14,560 page views on the Broadway show official websites that we could determine originated from Twitter, we found the following:
- They are typically most familiar with the brand with just 31% being new visitors to the website.
- In terms of overall referrals to our sample websites, Twitter drives more referral visits to the official website than Facebook.
- Twitter visitors spend less time on the official site than both the general population and Facebook, visit less pages and are most likely to exit without visiting other pages on the site.
What do we take away from this? These consumers are most likely already aware of your production and use Twitter to remain connected. Our data shows Twitter is all about quick hits of actionable content – it’s about speed of delivery, fresh content and simplicity. There is evidence to suggest Twitter is primarily talking to the converted – but, it remains a cost-effective vehicle to fuel positive word-of-mouth, to build ambassadors and to drive repeat visits.
In conclusion - believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.
Engaging in the social networking space takes more thought and resources than many expect. Brands that do very well have a plan and an organization-wide process that makes social networking an integrated part of how they communicate with their consumers.
I highly recommend that anyone interested in expanding their social networking presence should educate themselves first. Join Facebook, join Twitter – use them regularly. There are so many resources online that give tutorials, tips, advice and case studies (check out Mashable.com). It will be time well spent as I don’t see these networks going away any time soon.
If you have any thoughts or any questions on any of this, please let me know and we can connect.