First off, let me just say that I ride the #strugglebus with social media.
I struggle with finding an engagement balance and authentic approach that works for me. One where I don't overindulge my sweet tooth at the never ending candy store of profiles and posts, sink into compare despair or time wasting rabbit holes, or find myself staring at the manicured feeds of Broadway babies (or let's be real, current contestants of Bachelor in Paradise).
When I show up to Insta or my FB without any compass, only in search of that sugary high, it doesn't feel great. I get lost and crash easily, unfairly pin up others' shown successes against my own, and possibly invent false narratives in my head about who someone is based on what they do or do not choose to post. #judgejudy
But what's crazy is doing a takeover feels the exact opposite to me. I become a woman on a mission!
A takeover of another account is kinda like digitally being a VIP guest at a popular Air BnB, and who doesn't love a charming getaway from time to time?
What I also find is that a takeover encourages human connection with the ACTUAL HUMANS you are sharing this show or experience with in REAL LIFE. It's a wonderful excuse to get to know your cast, crew, community, or city you are in even better, preserve precious moments shared together, and serve the audience in a very unique and creative way.
Just think: a drama nerd tween might stumble upon your FIERCE story and say, “Gee, I want to work in theatre someday!”
Because I know you want to inspire the future of theatre :-), here are some tips and Q's to explore that made my recent takeovers at regional theatres and businesses serving actors soyyyyy much fun!
1- SERVE THE AUDIENCE
3 Q'S to Answer:
What can the audience learn about me, and possibly what matters to me, that isn't evident from my work onstage or my bio in the playbill?
This is where I start every takeover map. It's time to pretend like you are having a 1:1 coffee date with a stranger aka your temporary new follower(s)!
In the past, especially if I’ve worked at the theatre before, I start with my history at that particular theatre, why I love working there, etc. It soon turns into a sweet stroll down memory lane, providing pics and backstory. Other suggestions are sharing specific prep/routines you have fallen into, your reality TV and guilty pleasures of choice (everyone has one), why you love your role(s), charities/organizations you are invested in, other hobbies/interests outside of theatre, your HS/community theatre blasts from the past, and/or go-to fun facts you love to drop that strike up a conversation. Let that virtual coffee date evolve into brunch!
What can make the audience feel like they are a part of the backstage world, cast, or crew?
Give the muggles a taste of that magic! As a football fan, that’s how I feel when I watch NFL Mic’d Up. I'm freakin' on those side lines with my boys, and I love it. #goeagles
You can do things like give a backstage tour through your eyes, show off your dressing room decor and dynamic, share favorite costumes/wigs, introduce your dressers, etc. Make this your MTV Cribs moment, and have fun blowing followers' minds between half hour and curtain down!
How can I encourage audience engagement?
This is where the story is kick ass. There are sticker features for trivia, polls, and Q+A's that ask for low stakes engagement from whoever is following along. If you really want to see people respond, throw in a mini giveaway. People will do anything for a free coffee mug.
2-SHARE THE SCENERY AND DO SHOUT OUTS FOR LOCAL BIZES
Time to get tag happy. From cast expeditions into nature to neighborhood hangs and happy hours, share your hot spots without forgetting to tag the locations and biz handles so they can receive the love. You never know, your post may get the local barista's butt into a theatre seat. On a regional theatre contract a few years ago, I will forever treasure witnessing my yoga teacher in town at his first musical, THE MUSIC MAN. He couldn't stop singing "Pick-A-Little" for days.
3-UP YOUR TECH SAVY GAME
For each takeover I do, I challenge myself to stay hip with the kids and try a new feature or app that will enhance my storytelling (& skin tone). #babysfirstboomerang
Check out Word Swag, A Color Story, Layout for Instagram, A Design Kit, LifeLapse, and Dubsmash to start. You will, for sure, feel fancy and kewl.
4-ENGAGE YOUR CAST AND CREW
Get those fools involved! Create cast/crew challenges to complete, interview them as if you are Jimmy Fallon, make up skits/sketches/parodies, etc. Just like your takeover followers are temporary, so is your show family, and a takeover can open up additional bonding time. My MATILDA cast brought in their favorite books to share in our story, and it stirred up so many delicious convos online and off. We may have brought in the entire Harry Potter series combined!
Also, if I didn't do a full weekend takeover at my last out of town gig, there may have been some people I never would have had the pleasure in getting to know. That would have been my loss!
5-DON'T HIDE WHATS HARD
Final tip, be a human, and honor where you are in your shares.
Think less "polished and perfect" and more what's messy, what you are working on or through, what's making you laugh through the tough times, what's picking you up on those double show days, etc. Let Instagram become a place to celebrate the imperfect too!
So next time you are in a show, jump on that takeover train with your smart phone in hand, and watch the magic unfurl backstage and beyond.
Social media, you ain't so bad after all.