13 May 2019
Every picture sells a story when you’re a kidfluencer
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the ever-growing world of social media influencers and the rise of the “kidfluencer”, a picture’s worth isn’t measured in words but in followers.
Perth mum Debbie Tarveran and daughters Ruby, 6, and Sophie, 3, have more than 10,000 followers on Instagram — a feat that took the family just over two years to achieve.
As social media influencers, the trio promote products and events for both local and international companies by posting photos of themselves on Instagram.
Ms Tarveran said while she carried her camera with her “most days”, being the mother of two young kidfluencers, as well as being an influencer herself, was more like a hobby than a job.
Ruby and her mum Debbie.Picture: Micheal Wilson
“I know if I wasn’t doing this we wouldn’t have near the number of photos we get to treasure today,” she said.
Most weeks, Ms Tarveran and the girls do between one and four photo shoots promoting kids’ products or events, sent to them by various companies. They get paid for some posts, but most of the time their work earns them free or discounted products.
Sunsense, Maltesers, Lego, Chrisco and Red Cross are among the bigger brands the family have promoted.
“I want to promote things I am familiar with to protect the girls,” Ms Tarveran said.
The mum emphasised that the products her daughters promoted had to fit in with their Christian values.
“Being real” is not only an ideal Ms Tarveran is keen to follow, but a business model experts say is more likely to lead to social media success.
Owner of The Influencer Agency, Kate O’Hara, said authenticity was key to follower engagement and retention and how much an influencer can earn per post.
“Influencers are a channel,” Ms O’Hara said. “You can’t just suddenly change your channel … start posting different products or promoting a different lifestyle without losing your audience.”
But social media safety expert Paul Litherland said putting your children on platforms such as Instagram, no matter your follower count, was risky.
The owner of Surf Online Safe said he didn’t condemn parents for setting their children up as kidfluencers, but stressed the need for children to be able to separate their online lives from their real lives, and pointed to the lack of privacy kidfluencers experienced.
“The marketing, spread and open sharing is risky for children,” he said.
“It’s always going to expose them to comment and ridicule.”
Mr Litherland said kidfluencers might be prone to bullying at school or misunderstanding and misusing social media later in life. “And when it comes to predators identifying the child, it becomes very easy,” he said.
He added that if a parent was using the right security settings and taught their child the risks of social media, “then these accounts do work quite well”.
Ms Tarveran said she was vigilant about making sure her followers were real and she put their account on private at night.
“I don’t think there’s any blurred lines for the girls between what’s real life and what’s online because we don’t over share, we’re not fake,” she said.
The family account will continue until Sophie or Ruby do not want to promote any more. If that day comes, Ms Tarveran will continue to post photos to Instagram, but only promote products herself.
“School is our first priority, they have zero days off and I’m quite on top of making sure I’m not just mum taking pictures but that I’m also present,” she said.
“But for right now, they love it. You can see it in the photos and on our account. This is a diary of our lives and lifestyle.