Moulin Rouge takes fans backstage with Facebook

PARIS -- The Moulin Rouge takes a topless step into the digital age by launching a Facebook fan page, welcoming the masses to a previously unvisited backstage.
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris)

PARIS – The most famous cabaret in the world is now using Facebook to create an online audience.  The Moulin Rouge, Paris’s premiere dance hall, has launched a fan page to promote its shows, interact with the audience, and share archive material previously unavailable to the public.

Opened in 1889, the Moulin Rouge is often cited as the birthplace of the French cancan dance, a risqué performance that raised many eyebrows at the turn of the century.  Frequented by many a gentleman and artist, the concert hall has transformed over the years hosting performers from Josephine Baker and Edith Piaf to Dean Martin and Liza Minnelli.  Though known worldwide, its red windmill an icon to anyone visiting Paris, few are privy to entering the Moulin Rouge’s doors, with ticket prices starting at around $125.  Most only know the hall as presented by a dancing and singing Nicole Kidman in the 2001 film Moulin Rouge.

Jean-Luc Pehau-Ricau, in charge of communications for the Moulin Rouge, is helping to take the cabaret out of the 19th century and into the 21st using social media.  The new Facebook page, launched this month after two months of reflection, will create a more accessible and attractive connection for fans of the Moulin Rouge.  The French are quickly embracing social media, with presidential candidates using Twitter this year and airports creating smartphone applications.

With nearly 620,000 audience members per year, half of which come from foreign countries, the fan page will feature material in French and English, opening up the most mythic concert hall to the masses.

“By using Facebook’s Timeline, we can give users a global vision of our daily life, our news, on stage and backstage,” Pehau-Ricau said.  His team will be feeding the Facebook site with photos and videos on workshops, auditions, rehearsals, new performers, and other media that previously went unnoticed by the public.  “Now that we’ve made up for lost time, we are going to give a new kind of content, different from what was previously available on our website,” he said.

The Facebook page will also feature quizzes and contests for fans, allowing users to win seats to shows, something that previously the Moulin Rouge never offered.  Facebook, Pehau-Ricau said, is the perfect tool for such experiences.  He hopes to create a direct dialogue with fans whereas previously most information about the concert hall came only from the press.

While many fans will not be flying to Paris for a pair of tickets to the show, the page will have content of interest to those worldwide.  Perhaps one of the most innovative uses for the page will be the distribution of archive information, most of which has never been released to the public.  With 123 years of history, old images and anecdotes about the events at the Moulin Rouge remain relatively scarce.  “There will be photos, writings, and when possible videos.  Everything is not online at the moment but will be posted progressively,” Pehau-Ricau said.

The Moulin Rouge’s team is also looking to use the Facebook page to close unofficial pages promoting inaccurate information about the concert hall in an attempt to streamline communication.   Otherwise, Pehau-Ricau said his team is focused on keeping the page up to date.  “The only challenge left is to enliven our fan page regularly to respond to the expectations of our fans,” he said.

The communications team is not stopping with a Facebook page.  A Twitter account will be up and running soon to share news, photos, and other media.  Pehau-Ricau said that they are even considering an application for the iPhone.  Exactly how users could benefit from such an application remains to be seen, but it’s all part of the Moulin Rouge’s progressive shift into the digital age.  “We want to offer a different product, something with a real added value and surprising content.  We’re thinking about it, but it will take some time, still,” he said.

Photo: Moulin Rouge

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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