Teens' New Sharing Options Should Concern Parents and Marketers
To see the potential marketing issues with these new and untested platforms, let's first start with some information that may raise a few alarms with parents. I keep hearing from people who think their kids are abandoning Facebook for Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. This may be true to some extent, but kids are also spending time with newer sharing services of which, I suspect, many parents are unaware. Last weekend, I saw a series of unsettling news reports involving platforms such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, ask.fm, Kik, Voxer and Pheed. If most of these applications are new to you, read on (but be prepared for some disturbing information).
|Source: Radio Free Europe|
The second sad news report this past weekend was about a beating that occurred over explicit photos shared with a teen girl via Snapchat. Chances are most parents know about Snapchat, which has gained infamy in recent years for sexting. The service allows users to share photos and videos which (theoretically) can be permanently deleted from recipients' phones and Snapchat servers after a predetermined period of time. In the latest of a series of disturbing news stories about Snapchat, a 15-year-old boy was beaten confronting a fellow 15-year-old boy who sent an explicit photo to his 13-year-old sister.
|Source: Brian Blanco for The New York Times|
Rebecca is tragically not an isolated case--cyberbullying on Ask.fm has been associated with the suicides of at least four other teens. Meanwhile, children's use of Kik has become so common and troublesome that the Indianapolis Metro Police has issued a warning about the application and school districts are banning Kik from kids' iPads.
- Keeping Kids Safe on Social Media Sites
- Sexting, Snapchat, and risky teen behavior online
- FBI's Parent's Guide to Internet Safety
- Parenting Guides to Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook
- Childnet International Guide for Parents
- Cyberbullying Research Center Guide for Parents
Time will tell if Ask.fm, Snapchat and other similar services are appropriate and successful channels for marketing, but most brands ought to stay on the sideline for the time being. It will be very easy for parents, educators and child advocates to associate brands on these services with bullying, sexting and predators, and I predict more calls for boycotts and brand shaming will occur in the coming year or two.
While the anything-goes nature of these new services is part of their appeal, watch for these companies to start cleaning up their act to attract more brand dollars. Ask.fm has already committed to taking steps to increase safety on the service and recently launched a button to report bullying. In time, Ask.fm and other mobile apps could prove themselves a reliable and safe place for reputable brands, but that time is not now.
Safe socializing, everyone!
My background includes more than 20 years of experience in digital and social media, including time covering social media for Forrester, managing a large and diverse team in a digital agency and leading social business at Fortune 500 financial services firms. I am focused on how social media is changing not just the way we market and commnuicate but the way social and digital behaviors impact ...
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