Sunday, August 26, 2012

Comparing 10 DC Theatres on twitter: Method and overall ranking

Hey there,

So most, if not all, major theatre in the DC area are doing social media to some extent. And while there are many great reports, the most useful ones tend to be national in scope, and the most relevant ones cover the whole nonprofit sector, which isn't useful when talking about local and regional organizations.

Update: the ten theatres I looked at were Arena Stage, Metro Stage,Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Theater J, Synetic Theater, & Woolly Mammoth Theatre. This blog breaks down how I went about comparing them, and includes the overall ranking at the end of the post.

With that in mind, I thought it'd be an interesting opportunity to just compare local theatres against each other. The great thing is that it's all relative. The not so great thing is that it's not objective. Regardless, I believe it's still useful to see if and which organizations might be doing social media better than others. And why just twitter? Because, with my own experience, it's the one that has more developed tools for measuring, since it's by nature a more public, open platform compared to Facebook.

So what did I look at? I considered the following areas, presence, relationships, and influence. Presence looked at appearance (the images chosen for the profile pic and wallpaper) and tweet frequency. Relationships looked at the following/follower ratio and active follower percentage. And influence looked at theatre companies' Klout and Peer Index score.

Each area in and of itself is somewhat subjective, so you'll see in my post I actually provide the breakdown of ranking by category, and then give the final combined ranking.

Presence is probably my own personal contribution to this, particularly with appearance, as all the other are objective and quantitive. The companies were ranked based on the images they chose for their profile pic and background. This is founded from articles I've read about best practices and effective engagement on social media, combined with my own experience. And then tweet frequency was pulled from TweetStats.

Tweet frequency is also kind of tricky, as there are many schools of thought that recommend a sweet spot for how often to tweet during the day. But all the theatres were averaging 2.4 tweets a day, so I simply took frequency in and of itself into consideration, as most weren't tweeting near the recommended daily amount. I combined these two because one is the static presence, while the other is the fluid one.

Followers combined the following to follower ratio, as well as the percentage of active followers. To do the first, I merely looked at each theatre company's page. This ratio is important, because it's one of the immediate ways that a company shows that it's looking to engage and not just to broadcast. Theatre companies (and twitter users in general) more on the broadcast end of the spectrum tend to have lower following to follower ratios. And while it's certainly a valid choice to make if one is using social media as an extension of their traditional and existing marketing efforts, simply broadcasting and not engaging tends not to be among best practices for the purpose of social media, particularly Twitter.

To determine the percentage of active users, I used a recently released StatusPeople tool, Fakers. This breaks down how many of one's followers are Fake, Inactive, and Good. You can check out my blog from the other day, on follower fraud. I thought percentage of active users had some value in determining the authenticity of one's following population.

I focused on ratio and percentages, and not simple number of followers, because I believe one of the biggest mistakes with social media is that it's about quantity, not quality. And one's following/follower ratio and percentage of active followers allow for relativity and context, and better give an idea of the quality of one's relationships to followers than a simple total does.

And this leads me to what might be the more questionable part of this comparison: taking into account Klout and Peer Index scores. But didn't I just say that qualitative measurements were more valuable than quantitative ones?
Yes, which is why sites like these are the subject of much debate. Because the attempt to quantify to the qualifiable. "How do you measure influence?" is a question they constantly seek to answer with their algorithms. And that's why I'm not just relying on one or the other, but using them both to check each other in how they measure each theatre company's influence. My score ranking takes both into consideration.

So, to reiterate, the three factors I took into account were presence, relationships, and influence.  And just to point out, this ranking isn't a measure of someone doing something right and others doing something wrong. Personally, I don't believe it's that comprehensive, one would need a individual social media audit for that. And ultimately, each theatre can only gauge its social media success based on its own goals and measurements.

That being said, here is the overall ranking:
  1. Woolly Mammoth Theatre
  2. Shakespeare Theatre Company
  3. Theater J
  4. Metro Stage
  5. Arena Stage
  6. Signature Theatre
  7. Round House
  8. Studio Theatre
  9. Olney Theatre
  10. Synetic Theater
I have a more detailed report with the breakdown at my J Street Jr blog, which includes individual ranking by category as well as other thoughts for future consideration. Let me know if you have any questions, or even suggestions for other things to take into consideration, both with Twitter, or any other social media platform in the future.

- JR
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