Architecture Matters: A Social Media Analysis

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| by Shan Jiang, Ph.D., International ASLA | Marcene Kinney, AIA, LEED AP | Christopher Yost, AIA, LEED AP |

You Never Forget a Great Show. Or Where You Saw it:
New research analyzing comments left on social media suggests that—beyond the show—theater architecture and design play an important role in a patron's overall impression and experience.

What it is:
In a new research study, GBBN analyzed review comments posted on the social media platforms–Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor–about two theaters in Cincinnati, Ohio that have recently constructed new facilities or undergone significant renovation: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC).

While existing marketing research has predominantly focused on servicescapes (e.g. staff, services, tickets, valet, cleanliness, etc.) our research used these theater case studies to examine audiences’ theater experience when it comes to architecture and building design.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company: Percentage increase in social media comments post-construction

The research shows that after construction, a resounding impact is felt in audience intrinsic value in attending theater.

Illustrated Headshots of various demographics

Floor plan showing where each review photo was taken

(Above) Floorplan of the 1st Floor of CSC noting the location of where review photos were taken.

With a captivating experience pre-show and during intermission, social media post details are even more revealing about the quality of a patron’s experience. One sample comment left by a reviewer reads: “Amazing theatre attraction in such an architecturally poised venue. It caters to a regular and casual theatre go-ers alike given the varied and ingenious productions. the pre, intermission, and post amenities are simply perfect for lingering at the bar for a date night or a group of 10. And the staff is as cool and helpful as can be. We had a fun experience visiting for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Not a bad seat in the house!”

Why is it important?
As theaters seek to reach new audiences and adjust to changing demographics, lifestyle habits, and purchase patterns, social media offers arts organizations unique perspective into what patrons find vital about their theater experience. Social media reviews from theater patrons go beyond what’s onstage. Increasingly, the holistic theater experience is important, as is the ability to meaningfully connect with their community. For theater organizations knowing what design moments create impact can help them make the best use of their hard-won dollars and ensure loyal patrons and new audiences have memorable experiences.

Post Construction Increase

Data collected from Google Review, a 5-star rating scale. 2012-2022

You can read see the full presentation deck here.

Cover to presentation Deck