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PPAC Offers Free ‘Tweet Seats’ for Top Twitter Users

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Free seats, provided that you tweet. Tweet-Seats come to Providence Performing Arts Center.

With innovating social media strategies evolving quicker than ever, is it any wonder that our addiction to our handheld devices would soon be harnessed by performing arts venues? What began at Washington DC's Kennedy Center at a performance of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony has arrived at Providence Performing Arts Center--Tweet Seats.

The idea takes what may have been considered an annoyance--theater or concert attendees using their cells during a performance--and flips it upside down. Now, PPAC make a special spot for in the theater with "Tweet Seats" to a small group of attendees who promise to tweet during the show.

Tweet Seaters at PPAC

A few months ago, PPAC started the hunt by recruiting potential Tweet Seaters. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one for the opening night of Memphis. There were about 10 of us, chosen from our responses to an e-mail. We were selected based on the strength of our Twitter accounts, determined by # of followers/followees, as well as our reliable and creative content.  Our evening began with the opportunity on opening night to join in meeting producer and RI native Sue Frost, who spoke about bringing the production to Broadway.

Normally, tweeting at a cultural event is frowned upon by those around you, especially at a musical at PPAC, but on this night we were fully sanctioned. We were given a hashtag to use, a key part of tweeting effectively.  A hashtag identifies tweets around one particular topic.  For this night it was #MemphisPPAC.  We were required to include that hashtag in each Tweet. We were given seats in the last row of the lower level.  We respectfully turned our sound off, and our screen brightness to low, and waited for the production to start. 

Technical glitch! Soon we realized we had no internet signal because it is blocked and private at PPAC. One Tweet Seater went out to tell management about our clipped Twitter wings.  After what felt like a performance delay, we were given a password, and all set to go.

Tweeting from the seats

Throughout the performance we happily tweeted away. We were cautious about not giving too much detail, imparting our enthusiasm for fabulous music and sets and commented about the energetic, happy audience.  No photos were taken during the performance, but we took photos before, at intermission, and afterwards, tweeting each one. When we saw each other’s tweets pop up, we followed each other, and re-tweeted other’s tweets.

At one point towards the end of the performance, someone whispered, “we’re trending”….to those of us in Twitter-ville, this is the measure of success you can only hope for.  Twitter determines this by algorithms mysterious and ever changing.  Measuring trends by the second, we held the line for minutes at a time, coming in second, right below the Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show!  Wow, we were good!  PPAC told us later that we had a combined audience of over 25,000.

Next up: Million Dollar Quartet

This was the third time PPAC has used Tweet Seaters to promote an opening, and our combined audience this time will be over 35,000.  Next up: Million Dollar Quartet, which opens at PPAC on January 15, 2013. A new feature will be castmember Scott Moreau, who will be tweeting from backstage during the performance.

Million Dollar Quartet captures the twist of fate that brought Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins & Johnny Cash to the Sun Records Studio Front in Memphis with the Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Sam Phillips, who made it all happen.  Our Hashtag is #MDQPPAC.   This time we’re already tweeting, to build excitement for people to get their tickets. If you want a rockin’ in Providence evening, don’t miss Million Dollar Quartet.  If you want to follow along - @TapestryCommun – and don’t forget the hashtag, #MDQPPAC.


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