Don’t Shun Your Child’s Social Media Obsession Just Yet

Image: YouTube
Image: YouTube

While at a middle school function with my son I overheard a group of kids talking about a guy named Jacob Sartorius. They’re going on and on about his popularity and I can’t help but to feel old lost because I have no idea who they’re talking about.

I later realized that this 14 year old kid (who posted his first Vine video, a viral anti-bullying message, at age 11) has over 14 million followers, 8.2 million Instagram followers, and almost 3 million YouTube subscribers. That’s over 25 million social media following (!). This teenager alone has more IG followers than the NBA Champions (Cleveland Cavs, 4.5 million), NFL Champions (New England Patriots, 2.6 million), and MLB Champions (Chicago Cubs, 1 million) COMBINED!!!!!

A lot of parents scoff at the notion of kids being on social media but Gen Z and millennials are turning social media followings into dollars. The rise in popularity of inbound marketing has created an open market for brand influencers. 84% of brands will use influencer marketing in the next year.

Social media influencers are offering stealth competition to celebrities for ad campaigns. While celebs offer a great reach for brand awareness, social media influencers can garner a great ROI because of higher engagement with followers. Social media influencers create a more authentic and organic connection which can create an invaluable trust factor that can lead to conversions for advertisers.

Consumers can relate easily to a digital influencer because most are in school, work 9-5 jobs, or afford similar lifestyles. AdWeek reported that in 2014 Influencer Marketing campaigns received $6.85 in earned media value for every $1.00 of paid media, not to mention it’s more affordable for a brand to hire a social media influencer vs a celebrity.

Don’t be so quick to shun your child from social media. A couple years ago I came up with 10 Reasons Kids Should Join Social Media. The added popularity of digital influencers is another. Of course there are the obvious dangers parents fear about social media (child predators, inappropriate content, and a permanent digital footprint), but many kids are using it to promote positive change.

Teen influencers like Sartorius, Rishabh Shanghag, Emily Bear, MattyB, and Jazz Jennings use their platform to earn money as well as raise awareness for causes like bullying, LGBT activism, diversity, and the arts. SupermodelsAlthough you might not know these names, I can guarantee your child does.

When I grew up magazine covers & ad campaigns were dominated by the Supermodel Era…Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista reigned supreme. Eventually that was phased out and tv/movie stars took over endorsements…Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Sofia Vergara are campaign regulars.

When it comes to marketing influences, our children’s generation will continue to evolve. They’re not as influenced by tv, movie, and radio. The ever-changing digital landscape dictates how they view entertainment differently. Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu), YouTube videos, SoundCloud, apps, and social media capture their attention.

According to Pew Research, 90% of 18- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. use social media. YouTube reaches more 18-34 year olds than any cable network in the United States. Seventy percent of YouTube traffic is viewed from mobile devices. Over 10 billion videos are viewed daily on Snapchat. Instagram has over 600 million monthly active users.

Mattel recently enlisted youth digital influencers and their families to promote their first DC Kids Super Hero Month. They reached out to social media influencers that they felt empowered young girls. The teens and their families were flown to South Africa to help promote the campaign and inspire their following.

If your child wants to explore social media, parental reservations are natural, but understand that many youth are turning “likes” into a livelihood.

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