Report – Bright Young Things

Posted on: Friday 08 July 2022 12:37pm by Hannah Boursnell


  • You need to be where your audience is. If you’re making kids’ content, that means TikTok and YouTube.
  • Brands should be wary of jumping on TikTok trends. They need to earn the ‘right to play’ in an online space.
  • If you want to make brilliant content for young people, you should probably be hiring them!

In this panel, a group of under-25s working in the industry discussed emerging trends in tech, audience behaviour and marketing. 

The session began with introductions: moderator Zamil Zareen from KidsKnowBest was joined by his colleague Estelle DraganThierry Ngutegure from Journey Further and Brandon Relph from Studio BE.

The first topic under discussion was social mobility in the online space. Social media has democratised content, creativity and skill, allowing opportunities to ‘rise through the ranks’ by becoming successful in a niche. Everyone’s got a voice. However, when trends develop and the originators aren’t acknowledged, as has often happened with Black creators on TikTok, platforms have been slow to respond.

Social media has also levelled the playing field in business terms – it’s no longer about having the biggest marketing budgets, but about creativity and being culturally relevant. But brands should be wary of jumping on every trend.

TikTok is the ‘best content engine humanity has ever made’. Individuals and brands have viral potential. YouTube has traditionally rewarded content that is longer and higher quality, TikTok does the opposite. 

You can’t define or control how people respond to your brand on TikTok – don’t try to limit your audience’s creativity. Give them the freedom to play. An example is the recent viral ‘Gentleminions’ trend, which was actually orchestrated by a marketing agency to promote the new Minions movie.

Has your brand earned the ‘right to play’ in a particular online space? It is not always relevant or appropriate for a brand to participate in a trend and might not deliver good ROI. Ryanair is a good example of a brand that creates content on TikTok that allows them to use the space authentically. 

The panel then discussed the question of ‘Author vs Story’, and who now has the power. Traditional chronological feeds, in which you primarily saw content produced by the creators you had chosen to follow, have largely been replaced by an algorithmic model (as exemplified by TikTok) which serves you content based on what you have previously engaged with. It is about the content, or the ‘story’, rather than the creator. So the ‘story’ appears to be all-powerful, but chasing the story (i.e. trends) can be a never-ending treadmill and difficult for brands to commercialise. Developing a niche, a distinct voice and a loyal – even if small – audience is still the best way to make a career online. The new generation of creators can sustain careers on quite small audiences.

Important to be where your audience is: if you’re making content for kids, you need to be on TikTok and YouTube – not Facebook! Use a different tone of voice for different platforms. 

The panel then explained how TikTok’s portrait (i.e. 9:16 ratio) format has changed how content is being produced, and has been copied by other platforms. Content should be planned with digital in mind, and filmed to work for 9:16 from the outset. 

It’s a misconception that young people only want to watch short-form content. But the long-form content they want doesn’t exist…

There were then questions from the audience. The panel responded to a question about cancel culture on social media by acknowledging that it is a real risk – the ‘nature of the game’. It’s important to plan for ‘if/when’ it happens, and not get caught on the back foot. 

An audience member then asked about the ‘throughline’ from the creator space to careers behind-the-scenes, such as those held by the panel. In response, the panel all agreed that hiring young creators into development roles is essential – they want passionate people who are interested in, and make their own, content. But the panel also acknowledged that there is still gatekeeping within the industry.


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Hannah Boursnell

About the author

Hannah Boursnell

Editor and Copywriter

Hannah Boursnell is an editor and copywriter, based in Sheffield. She has an MA in Publishing Studies from City, University of London, and worked in trade publishing for fifteen years before going freelance in 2020. For ten years, she acquired non-fiction for Little, Brown Book Group, publishing across a range… Read more