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US Toy Industry Looks to Facebook and Twitter to Make Connections

29/03/2010 The power of the internet is increasingly being harnessed to promote all manner of causes, ideas and products - from charities to the choice of Christmas Number One Single - and of course the international toy industry has been busily using the worldwide web to make potential customers aware of the sheer range of children's toys out there.

With retail websites such as The Imagination Station, and numerous consumer sites, reviewing and comparing different types of toy, there is no shortage of sites where a parent, friend or relative can go to track down the perfect present, or where toymakers and sellers can go to discuss issues pertaining to their business.

But there will soon be one less - the US Toy Industry Association (TIA) has announced that from the end of this month it will be axing its dedicated social networking site, ToyConnections.

The New York-based TIA said that it will be closing ToyConnections in favour of an increased presence on social networking giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

In a message to members of ToyConnections, the association explained that "it makes sense for your industry association to be where you are. But it doesn't make sense for us to expend resources maintaining an industry-specific site when it's actually more convenient for you to have your conversations elsewhere."

"It's time for the conversations and interaction that were happening on Toy Connections to move to public sites," it insisted."

"We are happy that you've been a part of our online community, and welcome our ongoing online connection as a ‘fan,' a ‘friend,' a ‘follower' or a ‘contact.'"

ToyConnections has been a presence on the internet for nearly three years, and paved the way for other networking sites dedicated to a specific industry. TIA said that it had aimed to create a vibrant online community "for more 4,000 first-time exhibitors at Toy Fair, inventors and designers, new or small manufacturers looking for resources, and others."

From the 31st March, however, TIA affiliates and other interested parties will be able to follow its activities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube - where it has a channel dedicated to its annual Toy Fair.

In the UK, the closest equivalent to the TIA is the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), which was founded in 1944. however, this is an organisation primarily concerned with representing and advancing the interests of UK-based toy manufacturers, rather than retailers or consumers, and is - as might be expected - far smaller than its US counterpart.

The BTHA has a website, plus a presence on the social networking site Facebook, but its main interface with the public is via its an annual  Toy Fair, which took place this year between 26th and 28th January at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in west London. Next year's fair - its 58th - is scheduled to take place at Olympia between 25th and 27th January 2011.




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