Taking the World by (Digital) Storm: How the Toy Industry Is Using
The first in a multi-part series on toy industry
experiences using social media
Social media is taking the world by storm . . . and it’s not
just for kids. By using sites such as Linked In, Facebook, Twitter or
Space, toy companies are finding unique ways to connect with
consumers, get their brand in front of them and create unique
experiences. Social networking sites have become the way to communicate
and educate on a grassroots level.
Jakks Pacific is one toy company that has been using social media by
aggressively pitching Mommy, Collector and Tech Bloggers to showcase
many diverse products to key influencers and their respective
followings. “We have been utilizing DIGG and YouTube to
promote JAKKS in the news, as well as viral videos on our
products,” said Genna Rosenberg, senior vice president corporate
communications. “In the Fall, we plan to launch a targeted Social
Media strategy on Facebook and Twitter for brands that make sense, such
as UFC, Hello Kitty and more, promoting retail and other product-related
At last week’s Licensing Show, staff of Playthings
magazine used Twitter to “tweet” updates from
the show floor – which was useful not only to people who may have
not made the trip to Vegas, but also to attendees who didn’t want
to miss out on action occurring on the show floor.
Tweets are posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the user's
Twitter profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to
them (known as followers). Users can send and receive tweets via the
Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications.
The service is free to use over the Internet, but using SMS may incur
phone service provider fees.
Marketers and PR professionals have recognized that social media's
power cannot be ignored.
“We have been using social media on behalf of all of our
clients as part of our media relations outreach,” said Michele
Litzky, President of Litzky Public Relations, an agency that represents
many toy industry clients including Hasbro, Swimways and
The firm has hosted Twitter site-warming parties to help push key
messages to its client’s target audiences and drive traffic to
“Now that the 'public relationship' has extended beyond
traditional media, many consumers – especially moms – are
getting their information from one another. It's imperative to be
part of the conversation or, at the very least, know what is being
The reach of social media can be both good and bad for companies,
take for instance the recent Domino’s Pizza debacle. Domino's
Pizza was actively participating in social media, and knew the channels
that existed. It has a YouTube Channel, a Twitter account, and
both a Facebook and MySpace profile. What Domino's could not plan for,
however, was that two of its employees at a North Carolina franchise
would use YouTube to broadcast a video that would severely damage the
company's brand. Since the video first appeared, and its initial
missteps, Domino's quickly stepped up its social media presence in order
to regain some positive momentum.
What companies – even those that are not currently playing in
the social media space – can learn from the Domino’s example
- First, your customers are online.
- Second, companies must actively monitor social media channels and be
prepared to respond quickly when problems appear.
Moving ahead, businesses need to examine what type of role these
evolving technologies will play in their communications plans.
TIA’s Social Media Presence
Members of the toy industry are taking new strides in social
media communities every day. The Toy Industry Association (TIA)
has established its own presence on Linked In and Facebook. The latter is becoming a robust page
where “fans” – particularly those from outside the toy
industry – can see photos and videos and participate in discussion
pertaining to the world of toys.
Toy industry professionals have a more intimate gathering place on
the web via the ToyConnections website,
the only social media gathering place specifically for toy and youth
industry professionals. The site’s more than 3,300 members include
retailers, exhibitors/manufacturers, media, product safety executives,
licensors, sales representatives, and other toy industry
professionals. During May ’09, visitors came to the site
from 439 cities in 40 countries on four continents.
At present, the three most popular discussion groups include:
- THE LITTLE GUYS: Little toy manufacturers & toy shops who want
to support each other.
- BUYERS: Retail buyers who like to share all types of buying
- CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURS: People looking for creative ways to
reach and service customers across the country.
while the three newest groups are:
- BUZZ FACTOR & PUBLIC RELATIONS – for companies who want to
generate media coverage for their products.
- HR 4040 RANTS- for people who want to rant about the HR 4040
- INDUSTRY VETERANS & RETIREES – for toy industry veterans
and retirees who want to network, reconnect, or share fond
To join as a member of the ToyConnections community, please
contact Joan Wyche,
TIA manager of registration and buyer relations, for a free
Additional case studies of how TIA members are using social media
will be featured in upcoming issues of Toy News Tuesday. Please
contact TIA’s Adrienne Citrin to
nominate a company with a strong and successful social media presence
for an organizational profile, or to suggest an example of a social
media “ooops!” (ala Domino’s) for discussion.