Never a property to shy away from technology, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! made history as the first preschool podcast in early 2006 prior to airing its series on Nick Jr. later that year. Now the Bolder Media production and property, made in association with Starz Media, is moving to embrace the latest entrant in the social media landscape, Twitter.
Twitter is a social networking site unlike any other right now; it is primarily text-based and driven by people restricted to communicating their thoughts, ideas and yes, feelings, in 140 characters or less. Users then seemingly model their behavior on that of a flock of birds, either amassing a group that follows their musings (tweets) or finding fellow users (tweeters) whose conversations they want follow. The site got noticed by consumer media in the US in mid-2008, and latest estimates peg membership at approximately four million.
Twitter has since generated more attention as a site of real consumer influence, especially among US moms, following the ‘Motrin Mom’ kerfuffle last year. Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of pain reliever Motrin, released a commercial for the product on YouTube this past September. As it turns out, many mothers found the ad offensive. Negative chatter on Twitter reached a fever pitch by mid-November and was the key reason J&J ended up killing the spot and issuing a public apology that month.
Bolder Media president Susan Miller says the company’s been monitoring the online chatter being generated about Wubbzy on prominent mommy blogs, Facebook and YouTube since the property’s launch. With Twitter, Miller was first made aware of Wubbzy-centric tweeting approximately four months ago when one of her staff members joined the site and started following threads that mentioned the property. The activity of moms on the site, coupled with their influence as witnessed by J&J, prompted her to hire a full-time person, Jennifer Sims, to keep an eye on what the Twitterati have to say.
Miller maintains that it’s necessary for Bolder to be very transparent about its activity on the site. Twitter users (and social media leaders in general) ‘don’t like to be hustled or marketed to, but they like to participate,’ she notes. To that end Sims has set up an account and regularly initiates chats, asking ‘What’s up in Wuzzleburg today?’ and then engages her followers in conversation. The next step, says Miller, is soliciting tweeter feedback on Wubbzy.
Miller intends to start floating new toy, book, product and episode ideas by the most active Wubbzy Twitter members and reward submissions with Wubbzy DVDs or merchandise. And if it seems like capital outlay on staffing up to monitor these sites might outweigh the return, Miller contends it’s an activity that demands more time than cash resources. Additionally, she’s looking for Twitter to replicate the success Bolder’s already experienced by engaging the social media sphere.
Wubbzy fans submit photos regularly online, and one showcasing a homemade costume intrigued Bolder so much, the company put it in its online industry newsletter. Miller says a retail buyer that she had not yet met, liked the Wubbzy getup so much, she wanted to place an order on the spot. Five days later, Miller had signed a deal with costume manufacturer Disguise that then had a line up and ready to go for fall 2009. ‘So right there,’ says Miller, ‘I’ve taken care of any investment in social media.’ LC