Observers may be wondering why a My Little Pony related hashtag was the talk of the Twittersphere this afternoon. It has a lot to do with a mommy blog sponsorship, a marketing phenomenon known as the Twitter Party, and perhaps a little more to do with the cult following for the revived 80s cartoon about sparkly pink and purple ponies.
"Thank you for attending our My Little Pony Twitter party today - we trended in the USA!" wrote @MomSpark on her popular Twitter account around 1pm EST. MomSpark is Amy Bellgardt, founder of MomSpark.net and MomSparkMedia.com. She used the #MLPWedding hashtag to tweet the message to her nearly 35,000 followers, and indeed, the tag was trending until around 1pm.
Bellgardt told ClickZ MomSpark has hosted around 100 Twitter Parties over a little more than two years.
No worries though, right after the My Little Pony trend fell off the Twitter list, another Twitter Party aimed at parents took its place. This time it was a promo for a picture book themed website and iPad app called Magic Town. The party started at 1pm sharp, and generated about one related tweet per minute in the first half hour, mostly from parents discussing their children's favorite story books, and responding to questions from @ResourcefulMom, host of the virtual celebration.
The idea behind these efforts is to spur social buzz via influencers with followings in the target market of the sponsor. Giveaways are commonplace. In the case of Hasbro's My Little Pony, people who answered trivia questions about the cartoon's equine characters won toys like Sparkle's RC Car and an MLP Wedding Castle Playset.
About 40 minutes into the #MagicTown Twitter Party, the related hashtag had edged up a few notches on Twitter's organic Trending Topics list to number two. Attending the Magic Town event scored subscriptions to the site for winners.
Of course, a memorable shindig always has a crasher or two. For #MagicTown, it was @OnlyAStoner, who attempted to steer the magic town bus down a not-so kid friendly alley:
roll a blunt. WE'RE GOIN TO #MagicTown— onlyastoner(@onlyastoner) September 7, 2012
As with many social media marketing efforts, questions help keep the Twitter Party rolling. ResourcefulMom's Amy Lupold Bair asked questions such as, "When do you like to read to/with your kids? Do you have a special place/time?"
"Anytime! I really do miss cuddling up with my son and reading to him so much, great memories," responded Robyn Wright, using the requisite tag.
But, like Lupold Bair, Wright is no ordinary Twitter follower. She, too, is among three women hosting a Twitter Party this afternoon - in this case for Verizon. VZQBuzz Party goers will be eligible to win a Droid Xyboard tablet, but they must first RSVP to the event by sending an email to RSVP@TheOnlineMom.com, suggesting there could be some email list building involved in the campaign.
Magic Town subscription winners also have to cough up some contact information on a form requiring name, address, phone number, email address and even a "Twitter ID." The form also asks, "Would you like to receive email updates about future Twitter parties?"
UPDATE: This story originally incorrectly reported that @MomSpark has 25,000 followers.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT