Theaters around Southwest Florida turn to Facebook for ticket promotions

Naples Players hope social media fans 'shout' their presence during ticket promotion

Scott McIntyre / Staff
Jasmine Vizena, right, performs alongside her fellow members of The Naples Players during a dress rehearsal of, 'Shout! The Mod Musical', At Sugden Community Theater on Thursday Sept. 27.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre / Staff Jasmine Vizena, right, performs alongside her fellow members of The Naples Players during a dress rehearsal of, "Shout! The Mod Musical", At Sugden Community Theater on Thursday Sept. 27.

Get complete details on the "Shout! The Mod Musical" check-in contest, plus full rules and instructions here.

"Shout! The Mod Musical" runs through Oct. 27. Tickets are $35. Call 239-263-7990 or online at naplesplayers.org. Follow the Naples Players on Facebook at facebook.com/ naplesplayers.

"Art" & "God of Carnage" run Oct. 20 - Nov. 18. Tickets are $40. Call (239) 261-PLAY (7529) or online at gulfshoreplayhouse.org. Follow Gulfshore Playhouse on Facebook at facebook.com/ gulfshoreplayhouse.

"9 to 5: The Musical" runs Oct. 11 - Nov. 17. Tickets are $55. Call (239) 278-4422 or online at broadwaypalm.com. Follow Broadway Palm on Facebook at facebook.com/ broadwaypalm.

— When most folks hear "free tickets," they immediately ask "Where do I sign up?"

The Naples Players are asking fans to check-in instead.

How does it work? Simple.

Through Oct. 27, patrons can attend any performance of "Shout! The Mod Musical." "Shout! The Mod Musical" features 24 songs from the 1960s. Tunes include "To Sir With Love," "Downtown" "Diamonds are Forever" and "Son Of A Preacher Man."

Audience members can use either Foursquare or Facebook's mobile check-in feature on their smartphones to let their friends know they're at Sugden Community Theatre enjoying a show. Facebook is available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone, Nokia and other mobile devices. Foursquare is available for Android, iPhone and Blackberry devices.

At the end of the month, one patron who checked in via Foursquare and one who checked in via Facebook receives a free ticket to farce "Leading Ladies," which features mixed-up identities, two men in dresses and tons of laughs.

Naples Players social media director Erica Santiago, who proposed the event as a fan appreciation promotion, said that the contest is about "speaking directly to our fans."

"[We want] to encourage connected fans to interact more with the theater," Santiago said. "We also wanted to … introduce our social media network to fans who are not … connected to The Naples Players."

With Santiago's hiring (she replaced actor and longtime volunteer Steve Pozgay), the theater has aimed for more engagement and to build awareness across their social media channels.

"My philosophy is to engage [fans] in a way that makes them want to come back for more," Santiago said. "I have about 5 seconds to capture the attention of a social media browser."

For example, Santiago recently asked fans who sang their favorite version of "Son of a Preacher Man" - a song from "Shout!" Readers debated Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin or Bobbie Gentry. The Springfield version, led by Jasmine Vizena, appears in the show.

"I take every posting as a conversation starter - not only for me to the fans but for the fans to their friends," Santiago said.

Santiago points to recent growth the theater has seen in statistics showing Facebook fans of the Naples Players are talking to their friends about Naples Players content.

"Viral strength in social media is just as important as site visitors, likes and comments," Santiago said. "There isn’t a better source of marketing than a friend's recommendation."

The Naples Players aren't the only theater to launch ticket giveaways or to ramp up their social media efforts.

Just across Cambier Park, Gulfshore Playhouse (facebook.com/gulfshoreplayhouse) kicked off their own ticket contest in mid-September amid an effort to make their Facebook page more "accessible and fun."

Scott Greer, Brigitte Viellieu-Davis, Laura Faye Smith and Brit Whittle in Gulfshore Playhouse's production of God of Carnage playing Oct 20 to Nov 18.

Gulfshore Playhouse

Scott Greer, Brigitte Viellieu-Davis, Laura Faye Smith and Brit Whittle in Gulfshore Playhouse's production of God of Carnage playing Oct 20 to Nov 18.

"[On Facebook] We hope to make more interactive posts where people can answer questions and have discussions as well as see more of what's going on on a day-to-day basis behind the scenes," Gulfshore Playhouse marketing coordinator Tristan Carter said.

Since the launch of the contest, Gulfshore Playhouse's Facebook fan count has grown about 7%. The first winner in the "Reza in Rep" giveaway was announced September 28.

Gulfshore Playhouse also plans to give away hats, mugs, shirts, bags - all emblazoned with the theater's logo. A new blog - The Playhouse Perspective (gulfshoreplayhouse.wordpress.com) - also launched to offer a peek behind the creative process.

Farther north, Broadway Palm (facebook.com/broadwaypalm) now boasts more than 6,150 Facebook fans. Photos and status updates can attract dozens of likes and responses. But contests and ticket giveaways are the main attraction.

"We will definitely be doing more [ticket giveaways]," Broadway Palm's director of marketing Melissa Vogt confirmed, " … especially with "9 to 5" and "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." Those musicals are the perfect audience for our Facebook fans."

Vogt says that the contest helps build audience online as well as in the seats.

"Even though it's tough to track whether we actually sell tickets from Facebook, I know it has attributed to sales," Vogt said.

"Shout! The Mod Musical" runs through Oct. 27. Tickets are $35. Call 239-263-7990 or online at naplesplayers.org. Follow the Naples Players on Facebook at facebook.com/naplesplayers.

"Art" and "God of Carnage" run Oct. 20 - Nov. 18. Tickets are $40. Call (239) 261-PLAY (7529) or online at gulfshoreplayhouse.org. Follow Gulfshore Playhouse on Facebook at facebook.com/gulfshoreplayhouse.

"9 to 5: The Musical" runs Oct. 11 - Nov. 17. Tickets are $55. Call (239) 278-4422 or online at broadwaypalm.com. Follow Broadway Palm on Facebook at facebook.com/broadwaypalm.

Full Disclosure: The Naples Daily News is the sponsor of the Naples Players production of "Shout! The Mod Musical."

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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