From the Toy Fair Frontlines

Today we have a special guest cross-post from Stephanie Azzarone, founder and president of Child’s Play Communications.

This week marked the 107th American International Toy Fair, a major industry event held in New York City. I had the opportunity to moderate a panel there titled, Connecting With Moms In Social Media — Blogs, Twitter and Facebook, featuring toy companies and mom bloggers.

Speakers included Barb Rentschler (Chief Marketing Office, K’NEX),

Dell Monson (Senior Director of Marketing, Hidden City Games), Kimberly Coleman (Blogger, Mom in the City) and Melissa Chapman (Blogger, Real Moms Guide, Kids in the City, WCBS-TV).

What made this presentation successful was that it presented perspectives from marketers on the one hand and bloggers on the other. I thought I would share a few highlights here:

From the marketers:

  • It’s important to connect all the components of social media outreach — whether Facebook, Twitter or mom blog review networks (like Team Mom) — into an overall online media strategy that makes sense. You can also leverage advertising campaigns around it for a more integrated program.
  • Right now, the focus is on spending marketing dollars in the social media space rather than traditional media. Certainly for marketing departments with small budgets, social media is the way to go: It’s better to spend money where you are reaching your target audience effectively, especially when you don’t have millions of dollars for TV advertising.
  • When reaching out to mom bloggers, realize that not everyone is going to like your product. Take the good posts with the bad. If there is negative feedback, understand why they didn’t like the product; it could be a bigger issue down the road.

From the bloggers:

  • To marketers numbers are important, but to bloggers it’s all about influence.  If you are trying to find mom bloggers to work with, remember that “top blogger” lists are subjective. It’s really about the quality of people reading the blog, not always the quantity.
  • Before talking to moms in social media, listen first. Search Twitter and set up Google Alerts to find out what they are writing about, to determine if what interests them relates to your product. Engage with them on Twitter and, of course, read their blogs.
  • Be authentic. Have a dedicated person handling your company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts because it offers readers more of a personal connection to the brand.
  • Remember that every product isn’t right for everyone. You don’t want to send a plastic toy to a “green” mom blogger.
  • Even when your pitch is targeted, there are no guarantees that you’ll get a good review – but it is better to get an honest review rather than a post that just cuts and pastes a press release.
  • Don’t expect bloggers to write about your product without seeing it. Bloggers want to know what the product is and why it’s relevant to their audience.
  • When contacting bloggers, be respectful, but there’s no need to flatter.

Stephanie Azzarone is founder and president of Child’s Play Communications, the first agency to specialize exclusively in public relations, social media and word-of-mouth for products and services targeted to moms.  She has spoken at numerous seminars on marketing to moms through traditional and social media and has been quoted on the subject in dozens of publications, from PRWeek to USA Today. She is also founder of the award-winning Team Mom blogger network, as well as editor and publisher of the newsletter Marketing Communications: Moms and the voice behind the blog Mom Market Trends. Her clients have included leaders in their fields, such as Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Hasbro, Parents magazine, Sylvan Learning Center, Elmer’s Products and Gund.

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