An Exercise in Twitter Engagement

Ghost Riders in the Sky - great opening number and photo shared via twitter to those following the #612hashtag

Much has been said of the ABC’s embracing of the Twitter phenomenon. We have even seen op ed pieces running in online news sites about how this focus is incorrect – with a Twitter only competition proof of discrimination against their regular listeners – and their re-reading tweets as giving people who tweet’s opinion more weight because they are shared with the public twice – once on twitter then once on the radio.

Anyway, I was part of that Twitter only competition.

It ran two different ways for two different presenters for ABC Brisbane 612 Radio. The prize was to participate in “Tweet Seats” at a theatre production – The Ultimate Rock and Roll Jam Session – being held at The Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane. The catch? For this double pass, you had to wear the @612Brisbane twitter tee and live tweet the show with the #612jam hashtag (you can see our efforts here by searching on the hashtag). To win a spot – you either had to tweet in a specific sentence (1st 6 got a double pass – I was first though I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing but it did get me awesome seats!) or review the radio show in a tweet (140 characters or less).

I can only speak from personal experience and what my friends tell me – but most of my friends who listen to 612 do so either via their phone/apps or via the blog – cherry picking the pieces they are interested in after the links are tweeted. I listen while driving, but at least 50% of my listening is on delay via an application that provides digital radio coverage to your iPhone/iPod. Given that this usually has a delay behind regular radio of what I am guessing is at least 10 seconds, I can’t actually win a dial in competition and I am certainly not going to try and quickly dial while driving 100kmph on the motorway. So for me, a twitter competition is most likely the only way I am going to win a prize (I did win movie tickets last month, but that was all timing – I was just settling into my car when the song you needed to hear came on – so I dialled in).

So let’s talk about the event.

Tweets from almost two years ago still on the most recent tweet list...

It was a great idea – to have people live tweeting a show – though there are a few things that I think should be taken into account in the future.
Make sure the venue has good coverage.
Sounds obvious, but at least 4 of us had real issues with coverage – with it dropping in and out or just unable to get reception.
The seats themselves – we were three rows back (and I and my friend were smack bang in the middle right in front of the “star” of the show). So for us to tweet, we had to “low tweet” so tweeting low in our laps with our brightness turned way down to try not to annoy the people behind us – though I am sure we were a real distraction. It was VERY weird to be at a show tweeting – and looking left I could see the white lights of the view screens standing out in the dark theatre.
The organiser of the event had a twitter account that had barely ever been used, and didn’t engage us. No asking us who we were, our user names – nadda. Let’s face it, someone who hasn’t even bothered to tweet more than a few times in over a year isn’t the best person to be driving this. She tried, but not understanding twitter was a hurdle – telling us what her twitter handle was would have been a start – I only stumbled on it by chance.
The show itself was lots of fun – a bit of a comedy of errors (I will get around to reviewing it shortly) and the cast tweeted during intermission and after the show – though it would have been good to get some engagement going in advance.
The 612Brisbane account was reweeting some of the tweets from the event, and this did engage the greater twitter audience – I received a few tweets asking what was going on – where I was etc after I was retweeted, plus a fair amount of communication from my regular followers asking for information from my #612jam’ing their stream – though nothing negative – which was good because I was concerned I would annoy some of my followers.

So what did we learn if anything from this exercise.
Check the reception at the venue before you commit.
Put together an engagement strategy and get the participants/show connected with each other.
It was a good choice of show – you didn’t have to think while watching and was easy to tweet – though not sure how transferable us talking about songs and events on stage translated to the greater audience. I can’t see us live tweeting King Lear any time soon.
Maybe place us before a break in the seating so we aren’t so distracting to the paying customers.

EDIT: I personally don’t see embracing Twitter as a new medium to connect with listeners/viewers as a bad thing. You can pretty much pick any group and say they have an advantage. I think the the ABC balances it well. For example, I love how Virginia Trioli will read out emails and Facebook comments then made jokey comments back to her followers on twitter during her off air time in the show. 612Brisbane  and some of their announcers really engage with their audience, and I do wonder whether there has been an increase in their blog traffic since they started tweeting segments. From my own andecdotal evidence based on a sample of one (me), I will tune in via my app at work if something is coming up that really interests me vs waiting to hear it later. How do I know what is coming up? Twitter tells me. So to have a competition to engage a particular segment of your audience isn’t discriminatory at all – I think it is merely responding to your market share and providing appropriate opportunities. Let’s not talk about the #fidlerannouncement.

I doubt this will be the last Tweet Seats event – and I would certainly enter to go again – and the event (not the show) I rate as

#twoandahalfpandas though I think with a little tweaks these could be highly coveted #fourpanda events.
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About howmanypandas

If you can do it I review it! View all posts by howmanypandas

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