Crowdsourcing Reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe

Posted by Joe Walton on 06/08/2010

August is a time wonderful in Scotland. We have the world's biggest open arts festival on our doorstep with only our wallets and working hours to limit the experience.

Fringe 2010 is the most ambitious yet. It features 2,453 shows and over 21,148 performers (thanks to the fringe press office for these figures).

Outside of the household names there are thousands of performers starting their career, honing their show and trying to get noticed. 

With an increase in the number of crowdsourcing services, do performers have to rely on the press to speak the word about their work?

I went to show to see a show at the end of last week. On the way in all the audience members were given a flyer telling us how we could send in a text review to lovefringe.com.

At the end of the show the performer asked us very kindly if we enjoyed the show would we mind recommending it to friends or texting in a review.

Crowdsourcing is not new at the Fringe. Over the years a number of online outlets have grown allowing the public to review a show online but aggregating those reviews to create a buzz has only really been enabled through the adoption of technology.

  • Lovefringe.com - website and text message reviews.
  • Edtwinge.com - Last year the festival had two twitter crowd sourcing services. This year it appears that festbuzz have given up leaving edtwinge as the sole survivor.  
  • Edfringe website - For a long time the official website has carried audience reviews. This year they have a shiny new website offering multiple ways to track down new experiences. One feature of interest is the inclusion of the ubiquitous Facebook “Like” button. Want to know how popular a show is? Count the fans.

Like traditional word of mouth, theses services can created a positive feedback loop. Good reviews and noise mean more future audience members which leads to more good reviews and increased noise. 

And it has definitely worked for this one show. In the first 4 days the perforer has gathered 8 audience reviews via lovefringe.com.  Not bad considering that the room only holds 60 people. A quick check on Facebook shows the show has been liked 15 times ( a lot will be friends but nothing wrong with asking those closest to you to show their support). Edtwinge shows no activity which is a little strange as I reviewed it during the preview period on twitter and the URL for lovefringe has been defiantly been re-tweeted.

An example of a Lovefringe rankingAs for the ROI. well this is a very rough, but the Fringe allocation of the show has already sold out for tonight’s performance and for another later in the run. The venue will have more tickets to sell but it is definitely moving in the right direction.

These reviews are social. They are the online equivalent of a telling your fellow Fringe goers over a pint in the Pleasance courtyard. They will never take place of a review by a respected journalist when a promoter calls but as for building a groundswell of buzz they are extremely useful and can later attract journalists and promoters. 

I am a big fan of the Facebook and Twitter approaches, but  the text based review service is interesting as it doesn’t require someone to active on social networks. As you can see from the Foresters technographics report 37% of people from the UK are inactive when it comes to online services. A text service breaks down this barrier as it uses a tool everyone is familiar with.

And for show, you can catch Experimentalista at the Sweet Venue at the Haymarket Apex Hotel until the 29th. Have a lovely time and remember to spread the word.


Existing comments

If you are interested in more about Social Media over the Fringe - have a look at Contently Managed’s article on podcasts (http://www.contently-managed.com/blog/2010/08/09/edinburgh-shows-the-way-for-podcasts-and-social-media-in-august/comment-page-1/#comment-4708)

By Joe Walton on 2010 08 10

Thanks for your comments Joe!  We’re glad you like our approach.  LoveFringe is now accepting registrations from shows for the 2011 Fringe, and we’re looking forward to publishing many more reviews this year!

By Liz on 2011 06 04

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About the Author

Joe Walton is a consultant at Real PR and Secretary of the CIPR Scotland. His main interests sit between communications, psychology and technology.

You can follow him on multiple social networks including twitter and Google+.