OPINION: How social media can benefit the toy industry

More and more frequently different brands are getting involved with social media both for launching their latest products and also building long term advocacy.
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If you’re out to build brand awareness for parents around the latest toys to have or to have not this Christmas or if you’re simply picking up and responding to the online conversation; having simple guidelines to hand to help prevent mistakes can be invaluable.

The four steps outlined below are key principle guidelines for anyone attempting or considering any kind of social media planning and/or execution.

Step One: Listen

Since social media first arrived on the marketing and communications horizon, bleating about its low (read: ‘cheap’) barrier to entry and fantastic return of investment, those in the know have preached listening as the first thing that any brand should do first.

Personally, I would advise a minimum of three months for any first foray into the online world. That way you have a decent understanding of what your consumers (past, present and future) are saying about you and your products.

Step Two: Educate

The buzzword term of the moment is ‘social business’, but there’s a reason for that; adapting and educating the entire workforce to the benefits of social media throughout the office not only enables company-wide understanding and buy-in, but also creates a much more open and understanding working environment. After all, if you have an army of advocates already working for you then engaging with your consumers will become considerably easier.

Step Three: Integrate

Whatever your first steps are into social media, make sure that you have an integrated approach. Questions like: should comms know about this? What effect (if any) will this have on RnD? How can I use social in my ATL? – as varied as these questions seem, they are all worthy and valid enquiries that any marketing manager should be asking themselves when it comes to launching a social media campaign.

Step Four: Set a clear objective

Once you know what your consumers are talking about (and have worked out the best way to engage), once your workforce is up to speed and once you’re completely integrated across the multitude of business units then the final step is to know and understand what your objective is. It may seem obvious but often it’s the one thing that commonly gets left behind. What will success look like? What are the long-term benefits?

One final point to remember is that once you start a conversation with your consumer, be prepared to invest both time and money in continuing that dialogue long after your latest product launch is through. Longevity is key.

Keep these tips close to hand, invest in some sound strategic advice and you will be amazed at what can be achieved.

James Whatley is marketing director at 1000heads, social media and word of mouth marketing specialists.

Passionate for all things ‘social’ (tools, media, networks and objects), James is a frequent speaker at social media conferences and events.

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