Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week Tom Wojtunik.
My first blog post. Ever.
I’m the guy who still does not have a Facebook account. I think that “checking in,” so people know where I am at all times, is like something out of Brave New World. And I definitely do not Tweet. I am, admittedly, something of a social networking dinosaur.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a technophobe. I communicate more through email than the phone. I read blogs and visit various websites, daily. Once upon a time I had a MySpace account, and before that I was even on Friendster. I have an iPhone!
So why am I so reluctant to join the social media craze?
For one, I don’t really have the time. It’s hard enough to stay on top of email, and I suspect I would be easily sucked into the world of Facebook if I allowed myself. While I’m intrigued by the voyeuristic opportunities, there’s something to be said for learning about a person in a natural way, over time. I guess I actually enjoy the mystery in life.
From a professional standpoint, I’m uncomfortable with how much Facebook mixes the personal with the professional. Of course, theater is a business that thrives on that interconnectedness, and it’s actually one of my favorite things about it. Still, I think it’s possible to go too far.
An actor I once worked with used their Facebook status to comment on the progress of rehearsals, which I found appalling. The rehearsal room should be a sanctuary—a place where actors feel like they can safely experiment and fail. It’s completely unnerving to have a friend not involved with the production say, “Heard you had a bad run-thru last night.” Another time, while casting a large musical, I was told about the blog of an actor who was auditioning for me. He desperately wanted one of the lead roles, and had started a blog chain following his audition process, all the way through final callback. He ended up not getting the role, and he wrote about that, too. It was especially disturbing that he used names—my name, the theatre, even the name of the actor who ended up getting it. The tone of the posts was decidedly one of someone who had been “wronged.” To this day, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I honestly couldn’t imagine ever hiring this actor.
I currently serve as the Artistic Director for the Astoria Performing Arts Center and last season, we brought on a Marketing Director, Dave Charest. I’ve known Dave for years—we went to college together and he’s one of my oldest friends. And he couldn’t disagree with me more. He sees the potential in social media, and is excellent at using it.
He’s constantly scheming new ways to get me to join Facebook, and we often butt heads about these issues. He has an incredible knowledge of the social networking arena, and he’s so connected to the theatre blogosphere and beyond, it’s intimidating. I’m positive he’ll find this blog post without me telling him about it, and chances are he’ll comment—so “Hi, David!”
Dave has been an invaluable addition to the APAC staff. Our audience base has grown, but more importantly, we’re communicating with them more effectively than we ever did. And even better than that, they’re communicating back with us. So I’ve seen firsthand the value in these newfangled marketing techniques.
So here’s to me Blogging, at least for the next week, and stepping out of my comfort zone! (Just don’t try to find me on Facebook.)