by Hallie Gibbons, CDAE Public Communication major at the University of Vermont.
Lin Manuel Miranda has created an army of supporters for his shockingly brilliant, politically clamorous, full-bodied brainchild that is Hamilton. Miranda has been immensely successful in creating mass-market exposure to the modern and historical mix of magic engrained into the lyrics of the musical. Hamilton’s collection of Tony awards, a Pulitzer prize for drama, and a Grammy award are not the only elements working to promote the masterpiece—Miranda has harnessed the power of social media to connect people with his work.
Hamilton has been sold out for most of its run, making the show nearly inaccessible to anyone who is unable to afford tickets at an average price of $1,300 (Angela Bunt, ‘Hamilton Ticket Prices’, New York City, SeatGeek, 2016, 1)1. Lin Manuel Miranda knew he and his team had to come up with a creative way to make Hamilton more attainable to those who cannot afford Broadway tickets. In efforts to dismantle the idea that Broadway is exclusive to those with money, Miranda turned to social media to manifest his glittering masterpiece. With Twitter as Miranda’s preferred platform, he has “used Twitter to connect a broad cross-section of people who love rap, history and theater by soliciting fan art and poetry. Miranda responded to questions one on one and treated his followers like pals. Using 140 characters at a time, he created a special digital club that kept fans engaged” (Meghan Murray, ‘Runaway Success of Hamilton’, Washington D.C., The Washington Post, 2016, 1)2. Miranda’s Twitter presence has sparked engagement from every kind of fan—including Beyoncé, aspiring Broadway actors, schoolteachers, any music lover, and our very own Bernie Sanders.
How do you love something you cannot see? Conversation, engagement, exposure. Lin Manuel Miranda built an entire brand out of his musical Hamilton by connecting himself and his fans via social media while simultaneously advocating for important worldly issues such as Puerto Rico’s debt crisis and the takeover of the Trump administration. Miranda describes that “…the joy of having Hamilton succeed is being able to divert attention toward issues he cares about” (Rachel Syme, ‘Hamilton: A Brand For the Ages’, New York City, Fast Company, 2016, 3)3. He was able to make the show tangible by creating a means for people to communicate their love for Hamilton and the values attached to it. In the process, these conversations promoted Hamilton itself.