Student blog: Broadway marketing meets TikTok

Any avid theater lover who uses TikTok has seen Moulin Rouge’s Roxanne Opt-Up Singing Challenge. Broadway TikTok has even reached non-musical theater fans, including pop stars, like Lizzo, who posted their own covers of Roxanne. In fact, the official Moulin Rouge TikTok encouraged Lizzo to post a second release of the song an octave up and then they created TikToks of the cast doing the viral “About Damn Time” dance. Following the trend, the official Moulin Rouge TikTok released a professional recording of Aaron Tveit singing his famous opt-up. A few years ago, Broadway social media accounts rarely posted videos of performances, except for small clips embedded in commercials. However, we are now seeing a shift in Broadway’s digital marketing to include longer show clips, to encourage fans to post covers, and to target users on each social media platform differently.

Perhaps the best explanation for this change is the company’s reliance on social media and the rise of TikTok. Many viewers follow the social media accounts of shows they like. By encouraging these viewers to interact with posted content or post song covers, these social media accounts reach a much wider audience than targeted ads, print ads, and TV ads. When a TikTok user comments on a video, the algorithm assumes that anyone who follows them would also be interested in the video and show it on their For You page. It can also happen when a TikTok user likes a video or is in another TikTok user’s contacts. Likewise, any comment a Twitter user makes on a post will appear as an original tweet in the timeline of anyone who follows it.

The logic of the algorithm to show the videos that a TikTok user interacts with another who is in his social network is simple: homophilia. People tend to associate with people who have something in common. While this is true in many cases, it’s not a universal rule, so people may see a video they’re not interested in just because a friend interacted with it. Nonetheless, video can capture a user’s interest and send them down a rabbit hole watching similar videos.

Broadway TikTok accounts likely use this concept to justify posting exclusive show clips or engaging in show-related trends. It’s a natural way to expand the market for ticket buyers and reach tourists before they come to New York. It’s basically a larger-scale word-of-mouth effect that doesn’t rely on recent ticket buyers to tell all their friends about the show. Instead, by interacting with a post, others discover the show who may have never known it existed.

Just as we’ve seen Broadway lotteries transition from in-person lotteries to digital lotteries, we’ll soon see the majority of Broadway marketing focusing on social media content creation. Advertisements and social media posts are starting to merge, but this situation benefits both advertisers and social media users. Focusing on content creation on social media will increase the reach of ads, which will increase ticket sales while fans get more content to obsess over.


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