Social media analytics predicts top holiday season toy products

Need help with your toy shopping this year?

Social media analytics can help.

Networked Insights, a company that helps marketing and advertising firms, analyzes 560 million posts each day from sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. It can search only for discussions within a certain age group and look for specific keywords. It also weeds out advertisements and uses machine learning to correlate key trends.

SocialBro, another platform marketers use to spot social media trends, analyzed the top toy retailers in the U.S., weeding out promotional links and incentives and focusing more on mentions of childrens’ toys and parents’ “purchasing intent” parents based on repeating patterns.

In a coup for parents, social media analytics can predict which toys will be hot this season.

“We looked for discussions about shopping, Black Friday, and specific stores,” says Jaime Brugueras, vice president of analytics at Networked Insights. “We compared these conversations between last year and this year. We did a custom analysis for each toy and found conversations that were related to those toys and categories like building and creativity.”

The process is more complicated than just typing “Black Friday” in a search field and seeing the results. Researchers had to correlate the data to understand which toys will be popular.

For example, according to Networked Insights, people often mention shopping, Toys-R-Us, and the Elsa doll from Frozen. They also mention Target, shopping lists for their kids, and LEGO sets. Patterns eventually emerge that show how parents will shop for toys next week.

The results? Toys that imitate gadgets used by adults will be hotter than ever. This includes gadgets like the Vtech Kidizoom Smart Watch, My Friend Cayla, and the Skylander Trap Team Starter Pack. Social media trends also point to creativity-enhancing products like action figures and fashion toys, but social media discussions tend to avoid naming specific products.

As always, movies tend to drive toy sales. This year, the hitmakers will be the Frozen Elsa Doll, the Mutant Mania Mutant Masher, Transformers Stomp and Chomp Grimlock, and the Superhero Lego sets. Like last year, building toys - anything to do with rubber bracelets, Goldieblox, and LEGO sets - will fly off the shelves. Minecraft and Leapfrog will also dominate.

For teens and millennials, Networked Insights found that the video game “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfighter” ranked considerably higher than every other game for the holidays.

Brugueras says most of the discussions about toys take place on blogs and on Twitter. Facebook discussions are mostly private, although some toy brand pages are public. Also, the discussions mostly took place among parents, since kids under 13 are age-restricted from using social networks. (Parents better check with the little ones before buying anything.)

SocialBro generated a remarkably similar list, with a few exceptions. Frozen-related toys will be hot, as expected. LeapFrog and LEGO products, especially when coupled with the Minecraft craze, are spiking in social media conversations. However, SocialBro ranked Mega Bloks and the Monster High playsets as a big contenders for under-the-tree items.

Here’s the SocialBro toy ranking:

1. Disney’s Frozen Elsa Princess Clothes for American Girl Dolls

2. LeapFrog Alpha Zoo Spinner

3. Frozen Disney Princess Singing Doll

4. LEGO Minecraft Cave

5. Disney’s Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa

6. Mega Bloks

7. LEGO - Minecraft The Village

8. Monster High - Monster Maker

What does it all mean? The field of data analytics is not just a scientific exercise to help big business and major advertisers; it can you help win a Parent of the Year award.