Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Strengthening audience engagement for institutional theatres: Increasing accessibility through social media
by Waugh, Sara Elizabeth, M.B.A./M.F.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2015, 128; 1587322
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis, presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Administration/Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Management, argues that institutional theatre companies must immediately begin to develop marketing strategies focused on increasing information accessibility and community engagement via popular social web platforms like Facebook in order to increase current and future audience growth and retention rates. With so many performing arts events taking place annually on college campuses it is important that performing arts departments and institutional theatre companies located on college campuses focus on increasing awareness of campus arts offerings. Traditional theatre audiences, Baby Boomers and older generations, are undeniably aging out, and theatre communities nationwide, professional and institutional, are suffering from the inability to spark the interest of and engage with new, younger patrons. Empirical research indicates that currently Millennial consumers are the largest generational cohort since the Baby Boomers, have more purchasing power than any other generation currently living, and are spending most of their social time online. A University of Michigan Social Research study found that 80 to 90 percent of Millennials use social media, three out of four have created a profile on a social networking site, and 80 percent sleep with their cell phones next to them. (Fromm 2013, 76) It therefore seems unwise for marketers in any industry to ignore statistics like these and not immediately begin to develop social media strategies for marketing with the Millennial consumer group, especially campus performing arts marketers. By increasing awareness of campus arts offerings, institutional theatre companies can help develop long term affinity for the arts within the Millennial cohort and beyond. Additional research, as shown in this thesis, indicates that marketing via Facebook is increasing in popularity for many organizations because of the ease with which consumers can communicate directly with the company as well as with fellow consumers. Colleges and universities are prime candidates for initiating social media marketing strategies because Millennial student audiences can communicate and get involved with the arts on college campuses. These factors, among many others that will be discussed throughout this thesis, present a compelling case for institutional theatre companies to begin developing or re-strategizing current social media marketing strategies in order to capture the interest of the dominant Millennial consumer group, and strengthen audience retention across demographics. By creating indexes with which to measure and score a sample of US institutional theatre companies' Facebook pages' online community engagement efforts, this thesis is able to analyze current levels of institutional theatre companies' information accessibility and engagement efforts through the popular social media platform, Facebook, as well as the effectiveness of their efforts based on customer engagement. My research results will demonstrate the severity with which many institutions' strategies need to change as well as which institutions are actively engaging with and retaining student and public audiences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moisio, Risto
Commitee: Celsi, Mary, Genovese, Nicki, Moisio, Risto
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Theatre Arts
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 54/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Marketing, Social research, Theater
Keywords: Audience engagement, Facebook, Institutional theatres, Social media, Theatre companies, University theatres
Publication Number: 1587322
ISBN: 978-1-321-71054-0
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