By Julie Livingston, Director of Business Development & Accounts,Child’s Play Communications; former Senior Director of Public Relations, Toy Industry Association

Want your toy or plaything to pop up more in online search? You’ve got to feed the social media engine! By regularly posting information on the leading social media platforms with relevant, ongoing messages and links, the more your company or brand will pop up in online search. This is also a primary means of putting your brand or products on the radar of the legions of reporters who use social media to do their pre-show fact-finding.

As there are a variety of social platforms to choose from, there is no “one size fits all” solution. You don’t have to be everywhere. Focus your efforts on one or several platforms that are well suited to your product, where you can shine. Consider the content itself—who will plan an editorial calendar, create the content, post it, and manage responses? This is critical because members of the press will expect to get expedient responses to their requests.  

Journalists Abound

Journalists scan for Toy Fair news on Twitter. Follow those journalists who regularly cover the toy beat, and you’ll get a leg up on their current interests and upcoming stories.

If used effectively, Twitter can generate incredible viral exposure for brands; however, learning to use this platform effectively can take some trial and error. Through the use of a Twitter hashtag, you can dramatically increase brand exposure and interest no matter how big or small your brand is. Include your Toy Fair booth number to drive visitors to see you at the show.

Below, I offer tips on using Twitter to amplify your Toy Fair messages. In subsequent posts, I will explore other social platforms that can help to get your Toy Fair message seen and heard.

The Right Handle and Hashtag

First, establish an account with an address or handle. It’s best to create one that is instantly recognizable. The @ sign is an important coding device, used to refer to individuals, brands, or products. It is combined with a username and inserted into tweets to refer to that person or send them a public message. (My Twitter handle is @JuliePlaytimeMom.) When @ precedes a username, it automatically gets linked to that user’s profile page.

Creating a proprietary Twitter hashtag allows interested people to join a particular string of messages or themed conversations. Some popular hashtags for Toy Fair are #ToyFair, #ToyFairNY and #ToyFair13. If you do a current search on Twitter using the aforementioned hashtags, you will see related conversations about Toy Fair. It can be challenging to find a hashtag that hasn’t been used yet, so be creative without diluting your brand identity.

Give Your Hashtag Wings

To build a Twitter following, include your hashtag in all printed material, on flyers, and email marketing campaigns as well as on your email signature—basically, anywhere it will get noticed by key stakeholders. Then, visit Twitter and start creating Toy Fair updates that include your hashtag; also, include one or several of the Toy Fair hashtags mentioned above so it gets funneled to anyone doing a search for Toy Fair. This tells your followers that you have a hashtag and that they can join the conversation by including that hashtag in their own updates or tweets. For example, the hashtag for one of my Twitter accounts is #JuliePlaytimeMom.

Check the effectiveness of your hashtag by looking for it on; you’ll be happily surprised to see all of the tweets that are using your hashtag. It is the collection of tweets in your search results that makes up the conversation in aggregate about Toy Fair.

When composing tweets, try to be as conversational as possible as a means of inviting a response. Don’t forget to pepper in links to photos, your company Facebook page, or your website.

The Twitter Payoff

You may be wondering why you should include a Toy Fair-related hashtag in your tweets. The rationale is that each time someone sends out a tweet with that hashtag, Toy Fair gains recognition, as does your brand by associating it with the annual event on this platform.

“Follow Friday” Fun

There’s a weekly virtual event on Twitter called “Follow Friday” or #FF. A playful tradition, Follow Friday is an opportunity for people to send tweets recommending other Twitter users they think their followers may be interested in. So, on the Friday before Toy Fair, February 8, and again on the Friday following the show, February 15, why not participate as a means of hyping Toy Fair? If you intend to partake, research ahead of time to identify the Twitter users you wish to promote. Incorporate this strategy into your Twitter scheduling program such as HootSuite or Sproutsocial. To make the Toy Fair connection, you may wish to add any or all of these hashtags: #ToyBook, #toyinsidermom, #ToyFair, #ToyFairNY, and #ToyFair13.

Is Twitter to be a valuable part of your trade show marketing strategy?

Have you used Twitter in the past during Toy Fair?