Say you want to feature your child in a special image on your business’ social media presence, or as the “author” of your email newsletter. What’s the biggest concern? That you’ll be lumped in with infamous stage parent nightmares such as Joe Jackson, Kate Gosselin, or Dina Lohan.

The good news is, there are ways for your work-at-home business to derive a tangible benefit from your children’s persona in your online marketing without Toddlers & Tiaras exploitation. Follow these top seven tips to balance your children’s interests and welfare with the very real advantages of featuring them in your email and social media marketing.

  1. Have it make sense – Far too many email and social media marketing campaigns that involve children are illogical overlays which come off as a blatant leveraging of a child’s appeal to hype something totally unrelated. If you’re selling hydraulic pumps or liquid-nitrogen CPU coolers you should perhaps reconsider having a cuddly baby involved in the email campaign. The presence of the child should have a fundamental motivation so it doesn’t seem as discordant to the customer.
  2. Seasoning, not staple – The email newsletter sidebar “written” by your two year old discussing this week’s adventures with mom’s Leclerc Dorothy weaving loom while you were warping and wefting up a storm is seen as entertaining by your subscriber the first time … as interesting the second … and as shallow transparent hype the third. The best way to apply the presence of your children in your email campaigns is to do so in a very sparing fashion, more in the way of an occasional spark rather than a constant feature.
  3. Let your child be a child – There is a very thin line that must never be crossed in wardrobe, makeup, and hairstyle between the adorably childish and the unacceptably adult. Your children must never be portrayed as “adult-alluring” in any way for all the reasons which do not need to be mentioned here, so leave all those slinky disco and pageant outfits on the shelves. Your child will be seen by your customers in a far more favorable light if they dress and act in a manner appropriate to their age.
  4. Don’t do it if they can’t act – An email campaign makes very different demands on a child than would a TV commercial, but the child will be asked to assume various poses or engage in certain activities where they have to look “natural.” We have all seen the instances where a child seems to be looking offscreen at parents which ruin the intent of the image.
  5. Make sure it’s a win-win – Yes, the appropriate child presence in the email and social media marketing of your children can bring lucrative results to your business, but it’s important that the child derive something of positive value to it as well. Their participation should never be forced, and should be integrated into their play or leisure time. It is imperative that they child view the experience as pleasant not just so that they will look “natural” at the photo shoot, but so that they can perceive it as a part of “fun time with mom.”
  6. Keep it away from their friends – You might be tempted to show your child’s playmates how they’ve been featured in your marketing, but that’s almost always a really bad idea. Children can be vicious with those friends who are singled out for particular attention and the retributions can be really ugly. You don’t need to keep your child’s participation in your work at home business’ marketing a secret, but don’t draw undue attention to it.
  7. Get a professional review – Ask an acknowledged expert in marketing with decades of experience if they will review the material featuring your children prior to incorporating it into email campaign. They will be able to provide an unbiased judgment of whether the child’s presence is appropriate and acceptable, or if you’re off-base.

Children can be incorporated into your email campaign if you ensure that both their and your customers’ sensitivities and interests are well served. Use these tips above to create boundaries, and send out email campaigns that both you and your child can be proud of.