Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE: Top 10 toy brands that won holiday social media blitz

TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE: Top 10 toy brands that won holiday social media blitz

LEGO_Logo_rgbWhat holiday toys generated the best social media buzz during the holidays?

To find out, Brand Chorus analyzed the biggest sellers from online retailers Amazon, Toys “R” Us and Target and the results are in on the 10 top brands that have official social pages. (Some popular items like Disney’s Frozen toys actually don’t have dedicated pages, believe it or not.)

The brand consultancy then examined nearly 1,000 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest posts through November and December, crunching likes, shares and comments data for its StoryScore grading system, which shows bigger isn’t always better. Just look at how GoldieBlox is outperforming Hot Wheels with one-fifth the number of Facebook fans.

Top toy brands of 2014 holiday social media campaigns:

1. Lego – StoryScore: 89. It gained traction with how-to YouTube videos for aspiring builders. It boasted 514,000 YouTube views and 10 million Facebook fans.

2. Monster High – StoryScore: 88. No marketer posted more on Instagram. It scored 2.2 million Facebook fans and 100,000 followers on Instagram.

3. GoldieBlox – StoryScore 84. This was the most prolific brand, averaging 7.5 million posts a day. It boasted 23,000 Twitter followers and 200,000 Facebook fans.

4. Barbie – StoryScore 83. This toy icon had the largest audience across platforms, including 12.7 million Facebook fans, 520,000 Instagram followers and 423,000 YouTube views.

5. Fisher-Price – StoryScore: 81. The company nails engagement with a #LetsTalkToys series. It attracted 31,000 Twitter followers and 2.8 million Facebook fans.

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

6. Alex Toys – StoryScore: 79. Twitter is the brand’s favorite domain, tweeting 4.2 times daily. It boasted 126,000 Twitter followers and 8,400 Pinterest followers.

7. LeapFrog – StoryScore: 77. This educator is big on social coupons, and attracted more than 21,000 YouTube subscribers and 203,000 Facebook fans.

8. Melissa & Doug – StoryScore: 67. It mixes Facebook with doses of blog content. More than 30,000 Twitter followers ensued, and more than 204,000 Facebook fans joined the celebration.

9. Hot Wheels – StoryScore: 61. The Mattel car brand often targets collectors, not kids. It zoomed off with nearly 150,000 YouTube subscribers and 30,000 Instagram followers.

10. VTech Toys – StoryScore 56. This brand would have scored higher if it cut down on contests – but it scored more than 21,000 Twitter followers and 733,000 Facebook fans.
2014 year of millennial media consumption

The media world remains obsessed with Millennials. The generation born roughly between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are the largest demographic in the U.S., representing a third of its population. They wield enormous spending power and even greater social influence.

To publishers, brands and marketers, Millennials are potential lifetime customers, if managed appropriately. That’s why those groups spend enormous sums of time and money attempting to understand (and appeal to) the millennial audience.

We kept a careful eye on Millennials this past year, too. Here are five things the experts at Digiday – a leading digital media, marketing and advertising monitoring company – learned:

Millennials haven’t abandoned traditional publications. A raft of media companies cater specifically to Millennials, operating under the assumption that traditional publishers don’t do a great job reaching the 20-something crowd. But it turns out traditional news publications do just fine with Millennials, while other self-proclaimed millennial publications, such as Ozy and Vocativ, actually attract an older crowd.

Using data comScore provided to Digiday, we created a millennial-traffic breakdown for select media stalwarts (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, etc.) and upstarts (BuzzFeed, Vice, Elite Daily, etc.).

The New York Times reached more than 64 million unique visitors across desktop and mobile platforms in October, according to comScore data. More than 20 million (32 percent) were Millennials. The New Yorker received 5.5 million total unique visitors, nearly 2 million (36 percent) of who were Millennials.

During the same period, Vice racked up close to 25 million total visitors, including more than 15 million Millennials. Vice enjoyed a higher portion of millennial visitors — 61 percent — than the Times, but a smaller aggregate millennial audience. Of the 14 publishers studied, Elite Daily has the largest proportion of millennial visitors: 21 million of the site’s 28 million uniques (a number which makes it bigger than Vice, it should be noted).

BuzzFeed dominates both categories with more than 74 million unique visitors, including 39 million in that desirable 18-to-34-age range. That means more than half of Web-browsing Millennials in the U.S. (75 million) visited BuzzFeed at least once, according to comScore.

Millennial dudes dig online video.
Millennial men watch a copious amount of online video, more than any other demographic, according to research Nielsen released last week. In the U.S., the average millennial male spends 2 hours and 15 minutes each week consuming videos on the Internet. This group also spends the least amount of time watching traditional television: just 20 hours each week, compared to 23 hours for millennial women and 28 hours for Gen X males.

There are major discrepancies among different ethnic groups’ consumption habits, Nielsen found. African-American millennial males spend more time watching both traditional TV (33 hours) and online video (3 hours) than the average, while Asian-American millennial males watch less TV (11.5 hours) and even more Web video (nearly 4 hours).

Millennials prefer socially responsible brands.
Millennials are a passionate bunch. High school seniors today are more likely than previous generations to say that making a contribution to society is extremely important to them, according to an October 2014 report from The White House’s Council of Economic Advisors. Among the slightly older segment of the generation, 92 percent of millennial employees felt they were actively contributing to a company having a positive effect on the world, according to research from Achieve.

Whether their cause of choice is global warming or animal rights, Millennials’ sense of social responsibility affects their brand purchases, according to a global report by Noise|The Intelligence Group. Millennials are three times as likely to wear clothing from socially conscious brands over luxury brands, the report asserts. Moreover, four in 10 are willing to pay more for products and brands that are environmentally friendly. In China and India, which have serious pollution problems, 65 percent and 60 percent of Millennials respectively say they’re willing to pay more for eco-friendly products.

Like everyone else, Millennials are very fond of Amazon.
Amazon sits atop multiple lists of Millennials’ most-loved brands. After surveying 3,000 U.K. Millennials between the ages of 18 and 24, youth insights consultancy Voxburner placed the brand atop its annual “Youth 100” list last month. Impressively, 94 percent of respondents expressed a positive sentiment toward Amazon. YouTube and Google sneaked in just behind the online retail giant, each garnering a 93 percent positive sentiment among Voxburner’s sample.

Facebook, YouTube and Pandora still dominate millennial smartphones.
Despite its rapid growth, Snapchat still lags far behind Facebook, YouTube and even Pandora with millennial app users, according to comScore data. The primary Facebook app had over 47 million unique visitors between the ages of 18 and 34 in October, an 8 percent increase from the same period last year, according to comScore. That makes it the biggest mobile app among the millennial crowd.

Melted Movie Mic | White House throws Sony under bus

President Obama was quick to second-guess Sony Pictures Entertainment for its handling of the North Korean terrorist threat, which has critics asking why a movie studio has been left to conduct foreign policy instead of the White House. “This is not something Hollywood is equipped to handle, which is, ‘How do you battle a foreign country?’” said Hemanshu Nigam, a cybersecurity expert who previously headed worldwide Internet enforcement for the Motion Picture Association of America. “That’s the job of the White House, and if anyone needs to show leadership in that area, it’s the White House,” he said.

Sony pulled the “The Interview” after a 9/11-style threat from hackers linked to North Korea prompted cinema chains to back out of the film’s scheduled Dec. 25 release. The threat came following a mega-hack of Sony’s computer system that resulted in the leak of thousands of private emails and documents as well as several unreleased films. Mr. Obama had said little publicly about Sony’s predicament before the studio cancelled the film. Since then, however, the president has played the role of Monday morning quarterback, contending that Sony “made a mistake” and scolding the studio for bowing to pressure from North Korea, a rogue communist state that recently tested a nuclear device. For that, President Obama and the White House get a Melted Movie Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising — and those who don’t. Stay tuned — and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.