I was listening to my teenage daughters the other day as they recounted all the followers, likes and forwards they have on the social media platforms they use. I noticed the similarity of their comments to recent discussions we’ve had at work about engagement stats for our social media initiatives. We’re both concerned about likes, followers, and re-tweets, and how they reflect on us. Of course, we use fancy software to measure these things and tie them to business goals, but they’re remarkably similar.
First off, they’re results-oriented. They know what they want – recognition. Whether it’s through the number of followers on Wanolo and Twitter or friends on Facebook and Instagram, they’re all about the metrics. Secondly, given the amount of time they spend on social, and the corresponding activity, they know what works – and what doesn’t. They’ve learned that if they post a picture along with a tweet, more people will re-tweet, which will lead to more followers. (My younger daughter informed me that posting a picture of a puppy raises response rates even more, but I’m not sure we’ll emulate that particular tactic). And if they name their friends in Facebook updates, they’re effectively engaging an influencer network and they’ve just extended the reach of their content.
And speaking of content, despite the lack of conventional punctuation and spelling (which drives this traditional parent a little nuts) kids are learning to communicate concisely, compellingly and insightfully. When I was a copywriter, the hardest things by far to write were headlines. The challenge of squeezing features and benefits into 8 words was daunting. So the discipline of writing within 120 characters provides a similar challenge.
My kids used to have a vague idea of what I did, and with the frankness that only a child can muster, wondered out loud how boring it must be. But now that we’re all engaged in social media – albeit for different reasons – I’ve suddenly developed some cred. As a marketer, I’m intrigued to see how kids intuitively model classic marketing activities, and as a parent, I’m happy to be able to connect with my kids on a different level.