Why Teenagers Matter - October 30, 2019

The 'Target' Target Market - September 18, 2019

Keeping WTKS 'Safe' - September 9, 2019

The Story Behind WTKS - August 14, 2019

Why Teenagers Matter - October 30, 2019

Teenagers are having increased influence on household purchase decisions, so it is easy to see why retailers and business owners need to pay attention to what they are saying, now more than ever. And with the 2016 Census revealing there are almost 1.7 million Australians between the ages of 13 and 18, they represent a demographic which can no longer be taken for granted.

In 2016, more than 90% of Australians aged 14-17 owned a smartphone, making their access to information greater than it has ever been. Through What The Kids Say, 'the kids' are provided not only with a platform to express their own thoughts on the places they have been, they also have an important resource for them to discover what their peers have to say.

A 2015 YouGov study into the influence of teens on household purchase decisions indicated that 'Which fast-food restaurants to go to' (95%) and 'Which sit-down restaurant to go to' (88%) were two of the biggest areas which children aged 12-17 have a say in. Couple that with the fact Australians spend $45 billion per year - or $100 per household per week - on eating out, and it is easy to see why hitting the mark with the younger generation is so important.

The research conducted by YouGov also showed the influence teens have when it comes to making a choice about the 'Types of out-of-home entertainment / sports / recreation to attend or do' (93%) and 'Where to go on vacations that include your child(ren)', with teens having input into the final purchase decision on this matter 82% of the time.

Given the value parents place on their teen children when it comes to making purchase decisions in the hospitality and entertainment industries, making a good impression and positioning yourself to do so, cannot be underestimated. As the industry leader in giving teenagers a voice, What The Kids Say is the most important place for your brand to be when it comes to advertising to this demographic.


The 'Target' Target Market - September 18, 2019

Despite having built a rating and review platform aimed at teenagers, 'What The Kids Say' undoubtedly has a target market within our target market. At least initially. Rather than focusing our marketing and promotional efforts at teenagers who have already been using social media for a long time, our intention is to get WTKS ingrained in the psyche of young people who are establishing their social media and app usage habits.

Changing someone's behaviour is always much harder than teaching a new behaviour. For that reason, our growth strategy is primarily aimed at 12-14 year olds, rather than older teenagers. We know that we can't compete with the likes of Snapchat and Instagram, so we won't try to! Of course these users are extremely important to us, but it makes sense that while we are growing we focus most of our energy on fighting on a level playing field.

It is unlikely that a 17year with a habit of using Snapchat for three hours a day, in addition to spending two hours on Instagram will abandon those platforms for ours. Getting users to become regular users of 'What The Kids Say' - posting reviews and ratings, using our app to discover top rated places nearby and where they are going etc - will be much easier before they are such committed and loyal users Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok etc. I am under no illusions we can replace those platforms, but surely we can divert users attention from them somewhat!

The research we conducted when validating the concept of WTKS strongly suggested the majority of teenagers use the social media platforms they use for one reason: because their friends are on there. We have the best chance of being successful with our app if we can win over those who are in the best position to win over other potential users for us.

Word-of-mouth is the best form of endorsement we can get, so having teenagers get in the habit of posting reviews and looking for new places on our platform is what we are trying to do. As the people around them then form their own routines around the apps that they use, hopefully this will lead to greater uptake for 'What The Kids Say'.


Keeping WTKS "Safe" - September 9, 2019

Online safety is a big issue at the moment. With global giants like Facebook and YouTube under scrutiny for recent data breaches, it is evident no-one is exempt. And no-one should be exempt, either. There are numerous protections for consumers regarding the collection and distribution of personal information, but things get a little more complicated when it comes to dealing with children.

The global standard in terms of regulation designed to limit the collection of personal information online is the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, more commonly referred to as 'COPPA'. Passed in 1998 by the US Congress, it has since been adopted by other jurisdictions and is quite loosely speaking, the reason social media platforms and other online entities require users to be 13 before signing up or creating an account.

WHAT THE KIDS SAY follows the accepted industry standard in not collecting the personal information required to setup an account from a user under the age of 13, but 'data privacy' isn't the only contentious issue regarding online safety for young people at the moment.

As the father of two young girls myself, I know the difficulty parents can have monitoring online behaviour and keeping an eye on everything your children are doing. Maintaining the integrity of WTKS is extremely important to me. I want WTKS to be a platform that I have no concerns about my daughters being on, so simply meeting the legal obligations is not something I am satisfied with doing.

Many critics of social media platforms popular with teenagers such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube have (legitimately) raised concerns about bullying and the content young users are exposed to. In order to ensure our app remains a 'safe' online environment, we have put a series of other safety measures in place to prevent exposure to inappropriate material.

Each review published on the WTKS app is manually screened by human moderators to ensure nothing unsuitable content remains on the platform. This includes checking both photos and text content generated by users meets the WTKS content guidelines. In addition to the manual moderation of the platform, we have 'blocked' in excess of 800 specific words or phrases from being submitted in a review. This list will continually be monitored and expanded as required.

There is also a function within the app for users to report any content or material on the app which they deem to be inappropriate.

Additionally, any web links to our advertising partner's websites open within WTKS itself, ensuring users cannot navigate to websites which are not suitable.

Any users found to be in breach of our Terms of Use or not adhering to our policies will also by the subject of disciplinary action. This includes being suspended from using the WHAT THE KIDS SAY platform, or in more extreme cases, being banned.


The Story Behind WTKS - August 14, 2019

Something I am always curious about when I hear a new business idea is the inspiration behind it. The story behind What The Kids Say is one which occurred suddenly, but has been evolving over time.

Inspiration came from a family friend named Emily, a 14 year old who had been dragged out to breakfast by her mum to meet one of her friends. Unhappy with the choice of venue made by her mother's friend, Emily made a simply statement which would eventually become the inspiration for WTKS: "Why isn't there somewhere for kids to see what other kids say about places we go to eat?"

I knew that if was looking for information about a place I was potentially going to visit, or if I wanted to discover somewhere new, TripAdvisor would be my first port of call. What I discovered however, was that Gen Z is different to older generations. They process information differently, they create and consume content in a way unlike us 'older folk'. With the prominence of apps like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube on teenagers home screens, it was apparent those who grew up with technology literally in their hand, favoured platforms which focussed on visual content, rather than those which are text heavy. One of the comments I received from a 12 year was "kids don't want to read". It was at that time that it occurred to me that TripAdvisor and similar review platforms may not offer a solution which the coming generation wants.

It wasn't that young people didn't want to share their opinions in reviews, it was simply that the way they did it was so fragmented! Reviews on Instagram and YouTube by teenagers and children in particular, are everywhere. They may not look like what would traditionally be regarded as a review, but that is what they are. There are hundreds of millions of reviews in the form of commentary about a place or an activity, clothes or countless other subjects.

With that, I knew we had an idea with merit. But that was the easy part. Now to build the thing!