According to the Guardian, YouTube is the new children’s TV. They report that in October 2015 alone, the top 20 kid-focused channels raked in over 5.2 billion views. Google hinted as much about this emerging audience when it released its YouTube Kids app, which allows viewers to find only family-friendly content on the platform. With so many eyeballs on child-safe content, you might wonder how your brand can make itself more appealing to children and their families.
Why Make a Family-Friendly Focus?
Whether your brand is actively targeting children or no, you can benefit from promoting a family-friendly presence on YouTube and other social media platforms. For independent content creators, the reason is simple: family-friendly means advertiser-friendly. Because many advertisers prefer content that don’t contain profanity or derogatory and offensive imagery, you open yourself up to more advertising opportunities adopting a family-friendly focus.
As for marketers who want to promote brand recognition on YouTube or other social media platforms, targeting children (or providing safe, parent-approved content that they’re allowed to watch) can be beneficial even if they don’t yet fit your target demographic: according to one study, children as young as three begin to associate brands with success and popularity. Therefore, you can build brand affinity early by creating child-safe and family-friendly content. Of course, because safe content won’t be filtered away on YouTube Kids, kid-friendly content is more visible than videos with adult content.
What Makes a Child-Friendly Brand?
Some brands are obvious fits for a child-friendly demographic. These include unboxing video channels, video game streams, toy brands, creative channels (like arts & crafts or cooking) to name a few. But a child-friendly brand doesn’t necessarily need to target children’s interest; rather, it should feel safe and fun for the whole family. Disney/Pixar and Nintendo are great examples of such brands, producing child-friendly products and posts that consumers of any age will enjoy.
The brand should of course be shareable: turn your brand into a talking point for children to share and discuss with friends and family as brand advocates. Kids are creative and social, so give them a call-to-action or creative provocation related to the brand. And if you’re using the platform to market your goods, it’s best if they’re affordable enough for a child to buy if their parents aren’t willing to buy for them.
Are Young Children Even on Social Media?
In compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, websites typically require account holders to be at least 13 years old. Of course, anyone can access publicly-posted content on these platforms without an account, and therefore regardless of age; take, for example, preschool-aged children who regularly watch YouTube videos. Instagram notes in their parent’ guide that “there are many younger children who use [Instagram], often with their parents’ permission,” making this platform ripe for child-friendly content as well.
You can certainly tailor your content to younger fans and consumers on your platform of choice, but be aware that it must pass parental scrutiny to be seen, as responsible parents will take care to monitor what their children do online (and child-focused platforms like YouTube Kids will automatically lock out content that isn’t deemed fit for child viewing).
Tapping into a Family-Friendly Influencer
When making a brand safe for children, you need to be careful about who you collaborate with or the ambassadors you take on. Your collaborator should assume your family-friendly voice in your content, though it’s your call on whether the influencer should be committed to child-safe language in their own content as well. Be sure to also consider their audience, as you can expect their fans to interact with your brand and community when the collaboration is published.
If you seek a brand ambassador to feature or discuss your product or services on their channels, be sure to give them a list of topics to avoid. For example, let’s say you’re a makeup company and your ambassador posts a video about how your products masked her hangover after a night of partying. While this recommendation does have its use, tying your brand to irresponsible drinking isn’t particularly safe for kids and is a turn-off for parents.
Fostering a Child-Friendly Community
We’ve told you why and how to make your content safe for children, but your community is another story: while you might promote kid-safe content, you can only go so far to trust your fans will follow suit in the comments section. And while it’s important to cultivate a safe space for free discussion in any community, you must be especially careful and vigilant in one where children can take part in discussion (or at least read what others are saying, even if they can’t respond).
Keeping Children Safe with Constant Comment Moderation
Because of this importance, you will want to devote 24/7 moderation for your comments. While social media platforms offer tools for automatic moderation to a certain extent, they do have limits: keyword-based filters, for example, are easily bypassed and don’t allow you to deal with comments in real time as they come in.
Smart Moderation, though, is different: based on a machine learning artificial intelligence, it catches abusive, harmful and spammy language within the minute that it’s posted and automatically deletes it. This ensures you can shield your youngest fans from disturbing or dangerous language at any time without having to dedicate extra time or man-hours to do so. Parents worry about who their children might talk to online, but by cultivating a safe community, you’ll instill confidence in your brand!