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Are My Kids Better at Social Strategy Than You?

Associate Director Matt Steele attended PRWeek’s PR360 conference and found himself wondering if his offspring have a better understanding of the social media landscape than those of us who do it for a living.

I work in Comms and I’ve got two kids.

That means I overhear a lot of YouTube. Instead of birdsong, I wake up to the even chirpier “Alright mate” of SpencerFC.

What I’ve realised is that kids quickly develop an instinct about what they like and what’s not for them. Thinking about it a different way, they know what to expect.

And that’s why my seven and nine-year old could be better at content strategy than many big brand senior marketers – they understand relevance.

While the obsession with “harnessing the power of social influencers” is a brilliant technological advance that simply didn’t exist before the launch of Instagram in 2010, it’s also a tempting shortcut for trend-hungry marketers.

Bikini clad ex-reality stars holding Protein Powder have become so common they’re little more than background noise, deliberately ignored by a generation so in-tune with the channel that anything too forced stands out like a sore thumb (which is exactly what you’d get if you had to scroll through all those protein powder posts).

The answer’s simple. Make it relevant and transparent. Simply sticking #AD or #SPON on a post isn’t a get-out clause for creating forced, unimaginative content.

Buying Reality TV stars like pick and mix before dropping them like a stone isn’t really a strategy. And when their account is “pruned” to make way for yet more sponsored posts, are they still an influencer? Were they even one in the first place?

“600,000 followers on Instagram, you say? How influential!”

It’s dangerous to mistake reach for influence, as this (much better written) blog articulates. Paying for reach without relevance must be the social-media equivalent of shouting at strangers in the street. You wouldn’t do it in real life so why do it on Instagram?

Brands should be aiming for real, honest, and long-term relationships with social influencers. This was debated at the PR360 conference, and one thought that resonated with me was that “people don’t subscribe to brands, they subscribe to people”.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of Brands working with influencers. But only when it’s real and relevant.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to let my kids be the judge of that.

With 15 years in consumer health and nutrition, OTC, FMCG and retail sectors, Matt is an experienced communications consultant who helps brands tell stories through traditional channels and new technologies.