As of 2020, all comments on videos aimed at children have been disabled on YouTube. This decision was made in response to criminal activity and has been largely supported by the vast majority of the online community. It means that all data gathering and analytics will have to cease when it comes to YouTube video content aimed at young people, which may not be the best thing for digital marketing firms, though I think we can all agree this is a small price to pay if it means improving the safety of young people online. Though you can no longer place adverts or links to products in videos aimed at minors, there are still a number of ways to market your content to children and families in a way that is both ethical and effective. Here’s Probella’s guide to creating and sharing content for young people and families.
Never try to market to young children directly
Not only is this practice immoral, it is also ineffective. Children are generally supervised online and will not be able to make payments themselves, meaning that any calls to action will largely go unnoticed. Instead, try to aim any campaigns towards parents and carers. Even if the language and graphical style you choose is aimed towards younger people, you need to make sure that when it comes to financial transactions and things like data capture, the adults are the ones who are making the final decision. Games such as fortnight have been criticised for encouraging micropayments and using techniques that can be overwhelming and even addictive to young children, so parents are naturally wary of any online content that seems like it’s pushing “the hard sell” a little too much.
Create content that spans generations
Rather than trying to come up with content that only appeals to younger audiences, consider how this information is actually consumed by your potential audiences. All responsible parents routinely monitor their young people’s online activity and will often view content before they allow their children to do so. Content that can be enjoyed by both parents and children can perform extremely well, especially if you can make it entertaining for both generations. Keep any humour as clean as you can and also make sure that you don’t use language or references that will confuse or alienate either younger people or older audiences. This is a tough task, but if you want to be successful when marketing to families, you will need to think of ways to span the generation gap.
Only use as much text as you need to
Though many children are keen readers, their attention spans are obviously less developed than that of a fully grown adult, meaning that large, dense blocks of text will put them off and act as a deterrent. Keep sentences short and punchy and make sure your syntax is simple and easy to understand. Language needn’t be so simplified it becomes infantile, but it does need to be as clear and unambiguous as possible. So, for example, if you are marketing clothes and accessories, focus on colours, designs and the practical features, rather than trying to be too abstract.
Focus on safety and quality
Whether you’re manufacturing car seats for young children or selling art supplies for schools, safety and quality are the two key features that every parent or carer will look for. In this type of marketing, there is little room for overly subtle aesthetics and it often pays to be as clear and direct as possibly can. Things like “non-toxic” and “fully tested” are frequently seen on products aimed at young people for a good reason, they’re generally considered a positive selling point. No parent would consider buying a product that may be dangerous for a member of their family, so always make sure that you mention any safety information in a way that is easy to read and understand.
Bold, Bright Colours Still Work
Adults enjoy subtlety and refinement but to children, sepia tones and gun metal greys are beyond boring. The tried and tested method of using bold, bright colours remains popular for a good reason, it works. From educational software to clothing and footwear, simple, eye catching designs that rely on bright colours generally perform far better than anything that is too ambitious and complex. Though you don’t need to “dumb down” your design work, try to employ a more minimalist approach that displays your message in a way that appeals to both young and old.
Use Genuine Customer Feedback
Real testimonies from happy customers are one of the most powerful marketing tools you can employ when communicating with customers of any age, but parents are particularly receptive to this technique. Knowing that others have enjoyed your product or service can make all the difference when it comes to them making a decision. This could be a quote, a video review or a star rating system on your site, but it needs to be genuine and believable. Though we can all be a little cynical when analysing marketing materials, this is magnified when it comes to buying products for our children.
Don’t be too serious
Though there are some exceptions, especially in cases of medical equipment or other health related products, a sense of humour can be essential when marketing to young people and their families. Campaigns that are fun and light-hearted will generally attract far more attention than anything that appears to be too “dry” or serious. Bad puns, clean jokes and openly silly humour can be a perfect match for marketing materials that are aimed towards children. Though the adult world may be dreary place at times, this doesn’t mean that marketing for young people has to be the same. Smiles and laughter are a great thing and if you can include some levity in your marketing campaign, both young people and their parents are far more likely to engage with your products or services.