At a time when Madison Avenue is focusing its attention on an emerging field of “conversational marketing,” the first kid-friendly and COPPA-compliant chat and messaging platform designed for children under 13 officially launches today, and there is an opportunity for brands to get in on the ground floor. Exactly how brands can insinuate themselves into the conversation of kids using the new platform, Jet.me, will take time to evolve, but Founder and CEO Jenny Mirken is inviting them to begin by creating “verified accounts.”
“The verified accounts are just like a friend,” she says, meaning that they are authenticated by Jet.me, which is the first step toward becoming an accepted and permissible part of kids’ feeds. The next step, like any friend request on Jet.me, is to be vetted and approved by the parents of the children using Jet.me.
One of the reasons why Jet.me achieved COPPA-compliance is that it has strong parental controls enabling parents to effectively moderate their kids’ network of friends, and in the case of verified accounts, brands.
Initially, Mirken anticipates that the earliest brands adopting Jet.me accounts will be entertainment and sports personality brands -- professional sports leagues, teams or players such as LeBron James -- that want to use to platform as a way of beginning a conversation with their youngest potential consumers.
While children already utilize a multitude of social media -- everything from Facebook to Snapchat -- most are technically violating the terms and conditions of the age restrictions of those platforms, with or without their parents’ permission. The goal of Jet.me, says Mirken, is to create a safe and sanctioned environment for kids and the friends and third parties they interact with.
Mirken believes brands can play an important role in those relationships, especially in helping to promote Jet.me as a safe environment to create those relationships through their own direct-to-consumer marketing efforts.
How those relationships will evolve will be a learning process, she says, and the most likely next phase would be content channels she calls “branded categories.”
“It’s part of the reason we picked the Jet name,” she said, explaining, “the next stage will be Jet groups like Jet Sports, Jet Music, Jet Books. And there will be sponsorship opportunities.”
While there is a somewhat more famous digital Jet brand active in the marketplace -- electronic retailer Jet.com, which was recently acquired by Walmart -- she doesn’t believe there will be any brand confusion between the two services, because of how differentiated they are and the audiences they are aimed at.
For Jet.me, she says, that’s the sweet spot of kids ages 8-12 that are looking for a safe environment to chat and network with others.“You have to do things differently for this audience,” she explains. “It’s not like slapping a dinosaur on Facebook and calling it ‘for kids.’”