Last week Lynne spoke as part of the Parent Power Panel at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield. The Children's Media Conference brings together people who develop, produce and distribute content to kids – across all platforms.
What we wanted to talk about was using parents at the right stage of the development process when creating new content. We’ve been lucky enough to work on projects for the BBC, including the CBeebies Grown Up website, where our research started at the very earliest stage of the project and influenced design and content.
There are plenty of examples of where parents have reacted adversely to new TV programmes, games or websites. We know it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time but early involvement in the creative process means you know what parents are thinking. This also means you can objectively manage any negative responses because you know you have developed a programme or other content based on what parents and their children say they want.
As many broadcasters now develop for digital platforms one of the questions raised at the conference was whether social media is a good place to gather feedback and connect with parents.
We think the answer is yes. It’s a great place to listen to what people are saying about your content. But there is a but. Not all parents are on social media, there are fewer mums and dads over 35 on facebook and just a small percentage of the UK parent population are on twitter. We need to listen to and connect with parents from across the board, not just those online with vocal opinions. Remember where your audience are – the school gate, the supermarket.
Some organisations don’t think they need to bother managing social media and that’s fine if you are Apple and have millions of brand advocates waiting on your next move. Ignoring the voices of parents on social media (and beyond it) is unwise simply because it can quickly go viral and create negative sentiment that stays on the internet forever. We’re also increasingly seeing traditional press sourcing stories and features that start on social media, often appearing long after you think any negative furore has died down.
And what did our MumPanel and social media mums have to say?
“It’s interesting actually - I don’t use social media to try to influence programmes, but I think modern technology gives me much more control over what my kids watch - we never watch live TV, it’s stuff I’ve prerecorded or stuff off iplayer."
Ruth Arnold (Geek Mummy)
“If I felt that parents were being asked opinions which would actually contribute to the programmes and subjects covered on that childrens channel - if I knew my opinions were being listened to and that I could in a small way help to shape my child's viewing via this channel."
Finally, what to remember when you are developing content for children (and their parents)…
- Involve parents in the development process – by dong this you are harnessing and embracing parent power rather than being at the wrong end of it.
- Utilise the directness of social media so you are aware of conversations and trends that can then be tested in more detail.
If you’d like to know more about parenting testing and content development then drop us a line.