Social Media Police: Toying with History on Twitter

Periodically, I check to see if I have new followers on Twitter, and was surprised to find out that Bessie Coleman,Matthew Henson and Benjamin Banneker were waiting for me to follow them back. Something about that was intriguing and after a closer inspection I learned that a toy manufacturer was also following me. H.I.A. or History in Action is the brainchild of D.C. lawyer Sterling Ashby, who developed the line of historical action figures in response to a dearth and to give parents and children a way to engage based on a simple question, “Who is this?”

After surveying Sterling’s H.I.A. site, I gave him a call. I most certainly had to ask, ‘Who developed your social media strategy?’ Humbly, Sterling told me that he didn’t outsource and that the idea to give each figure its own Twitter I.D. was his own. Sterling also admitted that time was a prohibitor in pursuing more social media to market his product. One of the timesavers he has employed is HootSuite and it is a smart option; however, there are other options that will not only complement his current efforts but maybe even translate to sales.

Mr. Ashby has begun a smart social media campaign. He got my attention and I’ve taken the steps he should anticipate from someone who follows the figures and his company.

Well, to make his campaign the smartest it can be until he has more time to devote to marketing, I’ve got a few suggestions based on my immediate impressions of his online presence.

The Action Figures on Twitter

  • Give each figure their own voice. Separate their voices from the voice of the company. Bring them to life in 140 characters or less. Use HootSuite to schedule out quotes by each and factoids. Amplify their unique personalities via replies and even in some of the information they tweet out. For example, wouldn’t Bessie be amazed to learn of the team of black women pilots who fly for a commercial airliner? Benjamin Banneker can use Twitpic or other Twitter clients to tweet out photos of his work around D.C. And Matthew Henson can tweet out snippets of information about exploration.

The Company on Twitter

  • Engage with your followers more. Ask questions, like black history trivia questions. Ask your followers to ask their followers to tell you which black history figures they’d like to see. And take about 30 minutes a week to use Twitter search to find the people who’d be the best buyers and influencers for your brand. In that 30 minutes, take a deep breath and choose a few of the people, then tweet them. Don’t wait for a conversation, create a conversation about black history or anciliary topics. Ask people to look at your product and ask them if they’d buy it or recommend it. If they say no, ask them why not.

The Facebook Fan Page

  • The H.I.A. Facebook fan page had almost 1500 people who “like” or support it, which is nothing to sneeze at. You should post more photos of the product on the fan page, especially photos of each character from multiple angles. Create a video that shows someone, preferably a child, handling the action figures. What are their capabilities? Do they have bendable body parts? Talk about how and why you chose those figures. A real plus would be the addition of videos, if available, of the TV placements for H.I.A.
  • Add the links to each Twitter account in the Info section. Put your contact number and email in the Info section too.
  • Remove the tabs that have no content and add them again when there is content.
  • Post articles, videos and photos that can be shared but also instruct. Create a feed that will automatically post your Facebook content on Twitter.

The Web site

  • Add buttons that connect to Facebook and each of your Twitter accounts on the home page.
  • Add a Twitter button on the individual bios of the action figures.
  • If you offer teachers and parents the study guides, then offer the kids a downloadable picture they can color with crayons.
  • Add more photos of the figures and if any of their memorbilia is available in a museum, add photos of those too.

H.I.A. Toys is hardly a social media violator, but if Sterling Ashby employs these quick and easy optimizers he could turn passive followers and friends into paying customers.

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