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January 24, 2007

Social Marketing With Tweens

by Josh Bernoff

Bsg_isabel_small This is Isabel Martinez. She's one of the Beacon Street Girls. Now the question is: how can you get every 9-to-13 year old girl in the country to love her?

Isabel and her friends are the creation of Addie Swartz, a dynamo CEO now on her second company, B*tween Productions. I met with her yesterday to talk about how her business could take advantage of social marketing.

Beacon Street Girls is a series of books (they're up to 10 now, with 6 more in the pipeline plus merchandise) that delve deep into the angst of being a tween. They're upbeat and wholesome -- Swartz created them because of the dearth of positive media for girls in this age group. But girls who read them seem to love them (including my daughter Rachel, who's 11). Ordinarily a bunch of enthusiastic consumers is a prescription for an instantly buzzing social network, but the age thing is a problem here. The COPPA law severely restricts collection and use of personal information about young people. I suggested putting Isabel and her friends on MySpace, but even as fictional characters they're too young (12) and beside that parents of kids this age don't want their daughters looking on MySpace.

BSG's financial resources are limited -- they can invest, but not like a big media company. Media partnerships are fine, but they'll get a better deal if they get big and popular before they take on a powerful media partner. I shared some ideas with Addie, but she's a little shy about revealing them to the world before they get put into place. So I ask you, blog readers -- how would you use social media to turn 10-year-olds into viral marketers?

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