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Sharenting, social media waste, and exam results

It’s an important day for many a student in the U.K., with grades being revealed that will let 18-year-olds know whether they’ve bagged a place at university or on their chosen career paths. Or not. By now, then, champagne bottles will have been uncorked, life plans altered, and clearing calls made.
From everyone here at Smoking Gun, the most ingenious PR firm in Manchester, we hope the news has been positive.
This calls to mind an major issue when it comes to social media, though. One Google of the phrase ‘sharenting‘ reveals a word that many people may not be aware of yet. Nevertheless, it’s quite likely that most people with a Facebook or Twitter account will have their own thoughts on this habit, even if they didn’t know how to articulate it.
Put simply, sharenting is the over-sharing via social media of life details relating to children- whether they’re newborns or preparing to leave the family nest. And it’s not hard to see why a term has been coined for this practice. If you’re of an age when people around you now have families, then along with the knowledge that you may be too old to go to clubs, and probably need a pension, you’ll also be aware of the fact that a quick scroll through your social news feeds exposes you to countless pictures of babies, toddlers, and teens.
For those who still consider themselves far too young for such responsibilities, this can be rather irritating. But the question is, where do we draw the line between sharing the right amount of pride in the family unit, and publicising too much about those we care about the most?
The answer, of course, largely depends on perspective. Bragging rights have been the subject of parental debates since before records began (or so we can assume). Most guardians think their little ones are better than the rest by default, but it has always been a certain ‘type’ that refuses to shut up about little Thom or young Tamara’s latest achievements when it comes to potty training. Or high school sports competitions. Or A2 exam results.
Of course it’s nice to keep up with what’s happening in the home lives of those we know. Yet in some instances this practice becomes an obsession that people seem incapable of breaking out from under.
By now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with professional public relations, marketing and social media. Well, in many ways not much; given today is exam results day it’s quite likely that what has preceded this sentence was born from a lunch break spent trying to find interesting stories buried in and amongst the 17,000th picture of Thom and Tamara- now in their later years- proudly holding up a printed sheet of A4 paper on which you can just about make out a list of A* passes.
Congratulations, Thom and Tamara.
But, on the flip side, brands can learn plenty from the mispractice of sharenting, and apply that to the business world. Let’s consider our own company mantra when it comes to how firms should behave on social media:
Create engaging content, share interesting stories, and combine in-house boasts with posts from external sources so those on the receiving end don’t write you off as self-absorbed, one-sided conversationalists.  
Or at least that’s one way of putting it.
The fundamental point being that for all the joys of letting the world know what just happened to you, social media is about disseminating so much more information than those all-important trophy-steps; whether they’re taken by a tot in baby shoes, or a business. It’s not that people are completely disinterested, more that overloading anyone with anything is only going to lead to one thing…

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