How Different Types of Influencers Build Relationships With Kids
To the uninitiated, the fascination among kids for making slime and watching other people play video games may seem a mystery. But among those in the know, we understand that influencers are keeping these crazes alive and well. Influencers matter to kids — a lot. So what’s at the heart of these powerful connections?
Favorite influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms not only garner enormous heart-share from under 13s, but also influence the way kids think and what they watch and buy. We’ve taken a close look at how. If you spend hours and hours looking at posts from different influencers, you start to notice that while personalities for influencers vary widely, for each topic there tends to be a stereotypical type. For example, crafting coaches are typically lighthearted and conversational. Gamer dudes (yes, mostly dudes) tend to be high energy and goofy. If your aim is to connect with kids, understanding these personalities is critical to developing strategies relating to influencers.
To make better sense of the influencer landscape, Insight Kids conducted a study among 1,200 U.S. kids and parents to understand the types of personalities that engage kids in different content areas. The findings show, unequivocally, that all influencers are not created equally.
Influencer styles boil down to four main personalities: The Superfan, The Buddy, The Firecracker, and The Icon. Which type reigns supreme depends on the subject matter of the posts.
Superfans are true experts in their field. They build kids’ trust through a combination of objectivity and competency, not a hard sell. They are really good at what they do and know what they’re talking about. They’re also honest, even if they don’t like something.
Superfan traits are most important to kids overall, and they can be found across many categories. That said, the traits are especially important for influencers who build their reputations around showcasing their skills, like those in music. These influencers give kids something to aspire to.
Buddies are approachable and relatable, engaging and inspiring kids through their own journeys to learn and perfect their skills. They’re described by kids as being “regular people” and “always kind.” They also give kids tons of good ideas for things to watch, buy, or do, and go slowly enough for kids to follow.
The personality traits of The Buddy are especially important for influencers covering crafting/DIY and food/drinks/snacks. Kids know that making stuff is challenging, and they want influencers to validate their efforts.
Firecrackers make followers feel like they are part of the experience, providing a personal connection to the fun. They’re funny and energetic, and they take extra care to interact with their fans. Firecrackers help fans feel connected by talking directly into the camera in videos, conducting Q&A sessions, responding to fans’ comments, and liking fans’ posts about them. Many Firecrackers even give their fans a special name, providing a sense of being in an exclusive group.
Influencers who cover videogames or toys do well when they embody the personality traits of The Firecracker, especially humor. They get props for great interaction with their fans, and for conveying high energy.
Icons are masters at self-branding. They have characteristics that make them look or sound different, catchphrases that stick, lots of face time, consistent visual styles, and often a posse of regular characters or friends. Many of them very explicitly solicit likes and followers and even shill their own line of products. In contrast to The Buddy, who is seen as “always kind,” The Icon has permission to be “obnoxious or rude, in a fun way.” While kids may not prioritize the traits of The Icon consciously, they are influenced by good branding — consistent, signature elements that help influencers stand out from the pack and let fans know what to expect.
Being an Icon is especially important for influencers who focus on fashion/style and technology. And many social media diarists who post slice-of-life videos are masterful Icons, while they also often showcase traits of The Firecracker.
Finding the Right Influencer Traits Is Key to Connecting With Kids
The four key influencer personalities are not mutually exclusive. Influencers can and do embody traits of multiple types, and it’s in the smart combinations that these influencers create the magic formula that allows them to connect with kids so strongly. Those who understand the personality traits that work best for their subject do the best job of connecting with kids, whether those influencers are pranksters or role models. Regardless of type, their power is mighty.
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