Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

What would you do if you knew your teenage son or daughter was sending nude photos of themselves to teens of the opposite sex? What if those photos were posted to Snapchat or Instagram?


If you’re like me, you would be absolutely furious and enraged.


But this is happening each and every day in small towns, large cities, public schools, private schools, and yes, even Christian schools.


You think you raise your children right, teaching them right from wrong, but once they get a smartphone and social media in their hands… well, sometimes what you teach them fades into the background in favor of acceptance and validation.


Four years ago I wrote an article about how withholding social media from your children does not make you a bad parent. I thought it was time to revisit the topic of children/teens and social media.


My oldest daughter is 13. She has Snapchat and Instagram. However, we set the passwords and she has to leave her phone available for us to check it spontaneously whenever we want. That was the deal. I can log in to her social accounts on my phone and see what’s going on. So far, so good.


However not all parents are vigilant like that. They give their kids smartphones and let them open social media accounts and never take a second look. Many of the girls in my daughter’s seventh grade class have ‘Finstas’. Not familiar with Finstas? They are fake Instagram accounts where they hide their identities and post horrible, derogatory things about their classmates – or posts that are inappropriate for their public-facing accounts. They are selective in who they let follow them because of what they post. And their parents have no clue.


Snapchat isn’t any better. I will say the majority of what they do is send daily streak snaps to keep days-long streaks going with their friends. Many of these are a blank screen with the word ‘streaks’. However, what gets sent via group snaps and individual snaps cannot be seen by the general public. That is where a lot of this takes place.


Why is all of this happening? Why are kids acting like wild college kids on social media? To put it simply – they have parents that are not checking behind them. They are not being held accountable to their actions. Parents want them to fit in so badly, that they let them do what they want on social media with no recourse.


Do they realize that some of things they post can get them suspended from school? Or hurt their chances of getting into college? Or even a job?




Why is that? Parents are not educating themselves and their kids about the dangers of social media. My daughters are out of luck there. With a mom who owns a digital marketing company and a dad that is a Prosecuting Attorney for the state… let’s just say their every move is watched.


According an article from the New York Times last year titled The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers, “Even though 86 percent of teens say they’ve received general advice around online use from their parents, researchers at Common Sense Media found that 30 percent of teens who are online believe their parents know “a little” or “nothing” about what social media apps and sites they use. And yet, teens still say that their parents have the biggest influence on determining what is appropriate and inappropriate online.”


If parents would take the time to educate themselves on social media and the potential danger it can bring, most of what’s going on with children and teens on social media wouldn’t be happening. Parents are not being vigilant enough. These are our precious children and we should protect – and educate – them as long as we can.


Being vigilant may look like we are being nosy or being a helicopter parent, but if we are not monitoring their social actions, no one is. Here are five reasons you need to vigilant:


  1. You are protecting them from strangers and others who are out there to prey on our sons and daughters. Even with all the internet-nanny programs and account restrictions, that still wouldn’t stop a predator from seeking out your child. If you want to know if this really happens, I can let you talk to my husband. He’s prosecuted many cases over the years where the under-age victim was lured via social media. Just because that Instagram account says they are a 15 year-old from a high school in the next town over, it doesn’t mean they really are.


  1. You are protecting them from cyber-bullying. Being a teenager is hard enough without the technology, they don’t need the burden of the online bullying to hurt their still-building self-esteem. Our kids need to find their self-esteem and validation from their parents, their church, and healthy friendships. Not social media.


  1. They post content without thinking. Some of this content may hurt them (or haunt them) on down the road and/or hurt a friend’s feelings. Children and teens (and even some 20-somethings) are not mature enough to understand the long-term ramifications of posting hurtful content and inappropriate pictures.


  1. Social media can wait – it’s not going away anytime soon. Kids are only kids for so long. Let them be that. Let 9 year-olds ride around on bikes. Let 12 year-old boys play baseball or football. Encourage your kids to be active and social – without an electronic device. Remember back to when you were their age.


  1. Not using social media to communicate at this age allows them to be taught the proper way to carry a conversation with others. I know teens (and college kids) who could use a lesson in that. With a generation that is texting the person next to them instead of talking or Snapchatting pictures instead of enjoying an event, the lesson of how to hold a proper conversation is being lost. Not to mention their writing. I cannot count the number of times I have told my daughter that “k” or “ik” (that’s “okay” and “I know”) is never an acceptable way to respond to a text message from me or anyone else.


A study from Common Sense Media found teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework.


The world is a scarier place now than when we were all kids in the 70’s, 80’s, or even the early 90’s. The amount of information and the immediacy of communication at their fingertips is outright frightening.


But if we as parents are vigilant about our children and their technology – checking their text messages, checking their social accounts (that means logging in, not looking at what’s public), we can help our children navigate this and make it a more positive experience.


What are your thoughts/experience with this?


Mandy Edwards is the founder of ME Marketing Services, a marketing company specializing in digital & social media marketing located in Statesboro, Georgia. A proud graduate of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia she has a thorough marketing background of 17+ years. In the fall you can find her along with her family at Sanford Stadium cheering on their beloved Georgia Bulldogs. Mandy has been mentioned in Forbes, named to the Statesboro Herald’s Top 20 under 40, has been ranked as a Top 100 Social Media Power Influencer by StatSocial and is a Sprout Social All-Star Elite. In 2016 she was recognized as a member of the University of Georgia’s top 40 Under 40 Alumni.

Instagram Stories vs Snapchat – Which is better?

Just figured out how to effectively use Instagram Stories for your business? Oh wait no, you probably just figured out Snapchat. That’s right, Snapchat is slowly on the verge of becoming sooo 2016…


Instagram v. Snapchat


So what is the big difference? Both platforms offer essentially the same product.


While there are different filters, tools, and features, Instagram Stories is simply attached to what Instagram already presents its users. Since its launch in August, Instagram stories has reached 150 million daily users. This is greatly attributed to the fact that Instagram has quickly become the hub platform for many companies, brands, and campaign’s biggest influencers.


Snapchat does not allow growth for a business within its platform. Some argue that the app is making mistakes similar to those of Vine. Much of this is dues to the fact that Snapchat is simply private messaging. In contrast, Instagram promotes social media stars and helps to grow their accounts through the platform’s Explore page, which has naturally adopted stories along with photos and videos.


However, for many the direct messaging is not a complete deal breaker. As a millennial myself, I still use Snapchat daily specifically for the direct message aspect with my friends and family. I also view the daily subscriptions that are displayed by a variety of media sources. Some of these include: BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, The Dodo, and select featured ones. I will say that I have naturally made the transition to Instagram for many of the other companies, celebrities, and campaigns that interest me.


How to Use Instagram Stories


  1. Keep it short and simple

For Instagram Stories specifically, keep it short sweet and to the point but also engaging. It is also important to make sure there is a point to the content you are putting out there. This can be done by adding a simple location or hashtag to your post. Additionally, Instagram took over Boomerang and it was genius. Users go crazy over the animated looping clips. It a fun way to present content but also keep things interesting.


  1. Try not to treat it as a live video

Unless you are a certified celebrity, a stream of you talking to your phone in selfie mode walking around whereever is probably not the greatest idea. Most of the time, many viewers will lose interest and exit your story. If that is what you are trying to do, use live stream. This is not to say that this is not always acceptable. There are appropriate times to do this. Generally, stick to this method when your company or brand is at an event. Give your audience something to work with.


  1. Use the filters and features in a unique way

Can Instagram make you look like a puppy dog, Bambi, or a flower crown princess? No. If that is what you are looking for, Snapchat is still your go-to. However, think of the available filters and features as your bread and butter when posting to your Instagram Story. You have only a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention to make it something that will resonate with your target audience. There are tons on content creation websites like Canva for social media that do the same thing for a traditional post. The Instagram tools allow you to express yourself in a creative way. Another great feature to help grow you profile as well as your influencers and followers is the fact that you can add linkable handles, locations, and hashtags.


  1. Link your story to whatever you want

A beneficial feature included in Instagram’s Stories is the ability to link your content to the image. This will be indicated to users by a “swipe up” arrow featured at the bottom of the screen. This can be used to link to products, blogs, or whatever other content that you wish to display. Your followers will also appreciate the easy access to quickly jump over to what you are talking about.


  1. Always remember your target audience

One of the most important things to remember is to always stick to the values that your profile demonstrates. If your followers see content that does not align with your overall message they can be confused and annoyed. Users follow you because they agree with the message you send and content your display.


Do you use either Instagram Stories or Snapchat for your business? Which do you prefer?




6 Marketing Ideas to Kickstart Your Holiday Campaign

The holiday season is upon us and if you haven’t started to see any holiday marketing campaigns yet, well, get ready.

This time of year shouldn’t stress you out. It can be such a fun time to be in business. Many businesses, such as retail, depend heavily on the holiday season that runs mid-November through New Year’s Day. Yes, the fourth quarter can really make a business’ year financially, but here is one thing you should not skimp on right now: marketing.

The holidays make marketing so much fun – the contests, the deals, the relevant engagement – everyone needs to get into the spirit! However, a good bit of holiday shopping is done online, at via mobile at that.

Here are some of the facts:

  1. US retail e-Commerce will grow 13.3% this holiday season. (Source: Signal)
  2. 66% of consumers with shop both online and in-person. (Source: Adlucent)
  3. 34% of U.S. consumers say that digital advertising on a website or in a mobile app influences their holiday gift buying. (Source: Signal).
  4. 30.4% of online sales were placed from phones and tablets during the 2015 holiday season, up over 5% from the 2014 holiday season. (Source: Shelley Media Arts)
  5. Email marketing drove 20% of online sales during the 2015 holiday season. (Source: Shelley Media Arts)
  6. E-commerce revenue was up 16.2% on Cyber Monday 2015 compared to Cyber Monday 2014, making it the biggest day in US online shopping history. (Source: Custora)
  7. Black Friday was “Mobile Friday,” with mobile accounting for 36.1% of orders, up from 30.3% of orders on Black Friday 2014. (Source: Custora)

Now that you’ve seen some of the stats, how does that factor into your marketing plan?

Here are 6 tips to help…

1. Make your accounts festive!

You want your business/brand to be relevant, so that means “decorating” your website and/or social media accounts! Change out your Facebook cover photo to something Christmasy (if you celebrate that) or have your Twitter background be a field covered with snow. Show the world that you are ready for the holidays.

Idea: Use the Elf-Yourself program and share on your social media of you and/or your staff!


2. Post interactive, engaging content.

Ask questions each week, share favorite holiday memories. Connect with your market on an emotional level and get to know them.

Idea: #TBT posts are a great way to spark a conversation!


3. Offer sneak peeks to build buzz.

Let your social media community get in on special deals and products early by offering sneak peeks via your social media channels before any ads run or before anything hits the floors in your store. This is one way to build buzz and interest before an event.

Idea: This would be PERFECT for Snapchat!


4. Offer something exclusive.

People like to have exclusivity. You do not have to do this to be successful, but sometimes this will help you convert those browsers into customers. It can something for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. It could be a month-long discount on a product or service.

Idea: Along with free shipping or a free month of service, throw in a free sample or something totally unexpected to surprise your customer.


5. Mix it up with some traditional marketing.

The holiday season is one time of year you need to have a diversified marketing plan. Make sure to infuse your online holiday marketing plan with some aspects of traditional. Not all of your target audience will be online, so do not forget about those who may not be on social media or who may be using flip phones!

Idea: Visit your local businesses with some homemade cookies with your business card attached.

6. Have fun.  

The holidays is all about celebrating after all, so have fun. Enjoy the season and take time to get to know your customers and share this season with them as well.

Idea: Take your staff Christmas caroling!




Are you ready for the holiday season? What tips would you share?

How to use SnapChat for Your Business

Ask Mandy Q&A: How to Use Snapchat for Your Business

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.

Mediated marketing is all about being ahead of the curve, and allowing companies to flourish when their campaign is strategically thought out. This may mean taking on a newer, smaller but very popular platform. With over 150 million photos snapped every day, Snapchat is on the fast track to changing the way teens through college-age kids communicate. This image-capturing application is a must for effectively establishing a marketing tactic to reach that audience that gratifies them by providing a different kind of thrill.

The basic premise of the app is to send a quick image or short video along with a quick caption to friends. The whole message has a very short life and recipients are only able to view the message for a designated time of 1 to 10 seconds before it disappears (or unless someone screenshots it). The creators said they designed this application with the focus on “sharing authentic but fleeting moments in life.”

A question that has been churning in business owners’ heads has been –

How can I use Snapchat for my business?

Snapchat allows businesses to promote themselves on a more personal level with this short-term visual message format. Snapchat may be more useful for targeting the younger generation but when it is done right, it can fit perfectly into your mobile marketing strategy. Here are four ways to create a great social media strategy.

Make it Personal

One of the many ways that makes Snapchat unique is the personal feel it can give customers. Your brand can pick specific individuals to snap and provide them with an exciting link to the business and the people who work there. Taco Bell was one of the first major companies to take this bull by the horns and released the marketing statement saying “its all about treating them [their fans] like personal friends and not customers.”

The Funnier the Better

Professionally designed images are great for Pinterest and Instagram but Snapchat isn’t that type of forum. On this platform you should go beyond what you would normally do for marketing. Snapchat is about using the “fleeting moments” to really show some humor in your office or about your business. This takes a special skill and you might have to call on a expert snapper to make some very original “Snapasterpieces” that will give your customers a good laugh.

Leave Them Wanting More

Offer special promotions that are exclusively for your Snapchat followers. Businesses that take advantage of this new way to provide coupons and other deals are taking advantage of this cost-effective platform to entice consumers. You can even hold contest or challenges to get customers to snap you back for a special “prize.”

Advertise an Upcoming Product

Consider using Snapchat in your upcoming launches or events to see if you can grab attention with it. Create a Snapchat campaign to reveal a new product and you will have customers on the edge of their seats and excited for the arrival. Show a piece of the new product or leave a message vague to intrigue them about whats coming soon. This will be a sure way to start engagement among your customers.

As social media continues to grow, it is crucial for companies to stay up to date with their customers on all platforms. By adding Snapchat to your mobile marketing campaign it will help your business to maintain a consistent and engaging social media presence.

What other ways have you used Snapchat for you social media marketing campaign?

Do YOU have a question about social media for businesses? Simply click here to ask!

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