In this series of hands-on articles, creative business consultant, Sinead Mac Manus, delves into the world of Web 2.0 and social media to offer practical advice on how theatre companies and artists can harness its potential to build their profiles, communicate to audiences and develop their creative business on and offline. (some of the tools will help facilitate offline business as well)
Web 2.0 and Social Media
The terms Web 2.0 and social media are often used to describe developments on the Internet over the past five years, but what do these terms actually mean and of what use are they to artists and theatre companies? Web 2.0 marks a shift in the use and purpose of the Internet, moving from a static, information repository to an interactive space where sharing and collaboration is key. Social media can be broadly defined as the sum of online tools that facilitate communication and multimedia content sharing; it encompasses technologies and platforms such as blogs, podcasts and social networking sites to name a few.
If we consider the first generation of the web (Web 1.0) to be ‘read only’, aside from its key informational role, its application to theatre companies and performances seemed limited to advertising. In contrast, Web 2.0 is all about reaching out to your audience and collaborating with your peers – it’s perfect for creative companies. So if you’re willing to invest a little time, you’ll find that web tools and social media can help you build your company profile, both online and off, communicate to your audiences, develop new income streams and streamline your business, all at little to no cost.
Join me over the coming months in a practical exploration of all things web. This Practical Guide to Theatre and Web 2.0 will be a series of ‘how to’ articles covering a wide range of tools and topics including websites, blogs, social networking, collaboration software, microblogging, project management, creativity, publishing, email, multimedia, productivity and organisation. Each article will focus on a particular topic or tool, explaining how it works in practical terms, its potential for use in the theatre industry and, drawing on examples from across the creative industries where the Web has been put to good use.
Before we get into the practical guides, I want to highlight some off and online starting points to get you thinking ‘technology’. A good offline source is The Guardian’s Technology supplement on Thursdays (and its online blog) and The Times technology blog. ReadWriteWeb and TechCrunch cover developments in web technology, profiling and reviewing new internet companies and services. Closer to home, Lateral Action is a blog focusing on the meeting point between creativity and productivity. Written by the talented Mark McGuinness, Tony Clark and Brian Clark, it often talks about the potential for creative people to use the web.
A recent assessment of the “online presences maintained by Arts Council England’s regularly funded organisations” (RFOs) revealed that many arts organisations are beginning to embrace the potential offered by digital technology but that there is a clear opportunity for the arts to further develop their digital provision for the benefit of companies and audiences. With ‘Digital Opportunity’ being one of the current four priorities of ACE, now is a great time for arts organisations to get on board.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and is dedicated to “ideas worth spreading. Visit the site for the latest presentations on developments in the world of technology; such as Web guru Kevin Kelly’s entertaining and enlightening talk ‘The Next 5,000 Days of the Web’. Kelly reminds us that the web as we know it is still very young but the developments and progress we have seen in its first 5,000 days has been staggering. I truly believe that we have only just started on our Web journey and the road ahead is exciting and paved with opportunities for creativity and business.
Stay tuned for part 1: making the most of the Web’s most used, free blog software: WordPress