THE SOCIAL TEAM Wants You To Try That Crazy Meme
“... there has to be a better way to do this.”
Social media used to be optional. But since the pandemic, it has become fully cemented as a necessity for brands and organizations. Through the growing popularity of video platforms like TikTok, theater productions have been able to reach fans that they couldn’t before or during the pandemic.
Micayla Brewster and Chase Haylon, social media managers in the theater industry, witnessed this change firsthand and knew that as it grew, social media could be used more effectively to connect with audiences all over the world.
They created The Social Team, a social media agency geared at providing social media resources and strategy to individuals and organizations in theater spaces on and off Broadway.
“I started my career in social media where there were still questions like, why do we need to do social media? Or do I need to do social media?” Brewster said. “And that question isn't really asked anymore.”
But the pair, who have collectively worked on the digital teams of some of Broadway's biggest shows including Hamilton, SIX the Musical, and Hadestown, understood the power of social media and fan communities.
Brewster, who now resides in Spain as a digital nomad, first came to theater through her work in social media as a part of Hamilton’s team prior to the 2016 Tony Awards. She eventually became close friends then roommates with her soon to be cofounder, Chase Haylon, a social media manager who worked at The Pekoe Group and with SIX the Musical.
The founding duo of The Social Team don’t want to bill themselves as solely social media managers. They believe their agency’s purpose is to give creatives agency instead of just being an agency for creatives. They express that they want to “let people do their best work and to trust the people that we're working with to do what they do best.”
During the pandemic, Brewster and Haylon traded stories about their experience in social media management and theater and found a gap where they could streamline social media and how theater organizations and influencers could better use it to promote their work and connect with their fans.
“Over dinners, we would just be like, ‘there has to be a better way to do this,’” Brewster said.
They quickly realized that they could take advantage of this change and newer apps like TikTok to bring younger audiences to the theater. Haylon referenced a recent New York Times article detailing the loss of subscribers from theaters around the country and emphasized the need to retain and encourage younger theater goers to return.
“Okay, so then what's our next strategy for that?” he said. “It feels like people are trying to turn to younger audiences and the way to do that is through social media.”
Beyond traditional marketing, The Social Team believes social media can tap into a demographic that commercials and billboards often can’t: fan communities.
The Social Team has found that engaging with fans directly through social media, learning what they like and why, can create an open dialogue and help individuals and productions create more exciting social products for their audience. Instead of just having brands dictate what goes on their account, the duo has found that “so often good social strategy is actually just a feedback loop of listening to those fans.”
Haylon and Brewster mention paying attention to fan comments, excitement and requests can yield better connection and even good ideas for the client. “There's nothing more rewarding than feeling, you're like delivering for the people who actually care so much about this brand. We love fandoms.”
When working cross generationally and in a traditional industry like theater, trust between the social team and their clients is paramount. The pair says they like to budget time to develop this trust often by explaining out of the box concepts to apprehensive clients, often saying: “... ‘hey, I actually think we should do this crazy meme. I know it might not make sense, but I promise it will resonate.’”
In response, many producers and organizations have been open minded. “And a lot of times they're like, ‘I don't necessarily understand it, but I absolutely want you to do it.”
They explain that working directly with clients makes them more amenable to innovative ideas. “They're much more game to try more outside of the box ideas,” Haylon said. “I think post pandemic and because everyone's so online, producers are a lot more willing to take that risk and more willing to fail.”
One misconception The Social Team is hoping to battle is that despite social media’s accessibility and wide spread use, professionals and specialists are still needed in order to put out engaging content. “Just because the [social media] platforms are free does not mean you don't need to invest in it to also see results,” Brewster said.
However, they also acknowledge that social media historically hasn’t been a high priority within these production’s often tight budgets. But, unlike other marketing agencies, The Social Team stresses that they come in flexible to work collaboratively with a client’s specific needs instead of offering catch-all services. “It's not like we come in and we're like, here are our set packages and we're just gonna do this,” Brewster said. “We are very flexible and want to find the best way to work.”
The Social Team has already hit the ground running working with clients ranging from organizations like Broadway Podcast Network and African-American Shakespeare Company to individuals like Tony-winning actors and TikTok creators.
Overall, they hope to help social media managers and theater clients better understand each other and their resources. And ultimately, “to be able to think about social media in a much more holistic approach.”