A lot has been written about “mommy bloggers” — a term, by the way, that most moms who blog dislike. Marketers clamor to sites with trips, product samples and incentives by the thousands. Rightfully so, marketers recognize the powerful influence these women have on their peers. It is a 180-degree move in the right direction and a long way from where companies were when Marketing to Momswas published a decade ago.
However, there is risk involved in extremes, and focusing too narrowly on mom bloggers as your moms strategy can be dangerous. Before I go any further, I want to say that I believe wholeheartedly in the power of mom bloggers. In fact, I proudly count myself among the population of mom bloggers. But beyond being a blogger, I am a mom Vlogger, a Mom Tweeple, a Mom Webmaster, and a Mom Podcaster.
Successful marketing in any segment of consumers requires an integrated approach of delivering relevant messages through multiple channels of communication. It is no different in the mom market. Marketers solely focusing their efforts on mom bloggers not only execute a partial marketing plan, but also miss two-thirds of the overall U.S. mom market.
Consider the numbers. Respected social media groups estimate between 23 million and 26 million moms are in the blogosphere. Sounds like a huge group; however, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 83 million moms in our country. This means that only about one-third of all U.S. moms participate in blogging. If marketers are speaking to mothers only via bloggers, they are leaving two-thirds of their target audience untouched. To be successful, marketers must utilize a variety of channels to create a meaningful dialogue with mothers:
1. Video and Vlogging: According to BSM Media research, 90% of mothers have watched an online video in the past week. Yahoo says it’s even higher. Moms visiting Newbaby.com, www.newbaby.com, a YouTube for moms, view 11-15 videos per session and they currently have over 500 mom Vloggers. Video is fun, and a mom can watch a three-minute solution-based video while cooking chicken tenders. Brand videos don’t have to be fancy. They can even be B roll. Simply upload it to one of many mom video sites, or while you are sending product to bloggers, look for mom bloggers who do video.
2. In-Home Parties: Moms love to socialize and share. In-home parties or mom mixers are a great way to put your brand in the conversation. Moms invite their peers to share in themed gatherings that include product samples and fun activities. We’ve found that 80% of the moms who attend will tell three to five other moms about the sponsor brand. Another 10% will tell five to ten other mothers. That’s powerful word of mouth at work.
3. Radio and Podcasts: There is no other communication medium that keeps up with the pace of mothers better than radio. Moms spend up to 75 minutes a day in their cars with radio. Podcasting takes it even one step further because it allows moms to enjoy selected programs as they push strollers or shop for groceries. Producing a podcast allows a company to connect with moms on iTunes or other podcast directories. If you aren’t into broadcasting your own branded show, there are plenty of great Mom shows out there to sponsor.
Today’s mothers are carrying on hundreds of conversations a day and receiving information from numerous sources along the way. As a marketer, it’s important to establish a meaningful dialogue with your consumer through multiple channels — in blogs but also in their homes, in their cars and even face-to-face.
There is a rapid emergence of mom vloggers and it’s time for marketers who want to stay ahead of the game to take notice. Let me give you an example. Just three short weeks after launching MomTV, this online video destination for moms has over 30 live weekly shows booked on their 24/7 Mom TV online network. Moms, many of whom are popular bloggers, are creating shows on everything from cooking to fashion to travel. It’s amazing to watch these moms “broadcast” live from their laptop with the help of a HD Webcam to hundreds of mom viewers. The audience then has the ability to chat, submit questions or even appear via video and ask questions. It’s truly addictive.
There is another example with Newbaby.com, the sister site to MomTV, where over 500 moms are now vlogging their daily thoughts on parenthood. Think blogging on video. Moms who view the videos can comment back to the moms via video as well. It’s bringing the personality and passion of mothers to life for her readers. Yesterday in a webinar titled “The Emergence of the Mom Blogger” sponsored by BSM Media, Maria Bailey, author of Mom 3.0: Marketing WITH Today’s Mothers by Leveraging New Media and Technology, facilitated a virtual panel of mom vloggers. Panelists included Danielle Smith (ExtraordinaryMommy.com), Jendi Pagano (JendisJournal.com), Stephanie Piche (co-founder of MomTV.com ) and Stacy Nerdin(www.treerootandtwig.com).
Here are some of the highlights and insights from these moms who are leading the way for other mom vloggers:
• Moms find creating videos easy with plug-in video cameras;
• Moms like to watch video because they enjoy seeing the passion of other mothers;
• Moms enjoy vlogging because it allows the authenticity of the mom come through;
• For marketers, it allows for the opportunity to demonstrate and educate the viewer;
• Newbaby.com and MomTV.com are growing because it allows moms to interact during video shows.
In over a decade of formally studying moms, I’ve never seen as much of a frenzy surrounding one type of marketing initiative as I’ve witnessed with mom bloggers. Blogging has taken everyone by storm including the moms themselves. Much to their own surprise, Mom Bloggers are accidental business women. They are mothers who simply started a blog to chronicle their journey as a mother or to find like-minded women with children and are suddenly receiving hundreds of product samples, special event invitations and free merchandise in their inbox every day.
With as much attention as the mom blogosphere receives, it still only represents about one-third of the general population of mothers. Today, according to BlogHer research, more than 45 million women participate in the blogosphere weekly. It is estimated that about half are women with children, bringing the total to about 23 million of the 83 million moms in the US. This is why I often warn marketers who are targeting mothers not to view blogs as a silver bullet. The majority of mom bloggers are Generation X and Millennial mothers who post about their experiences as moms. More than 40% of women consider blogs a reliable source of advice and information and over 50% admit that blogs influence their buying decisions. (1) Most mom bloggers have only been in the blogosphere for less than twenty four months.
Blogging is the perfect tool for the Generation Y and Generation X mothers. Its functionality aligns very closely with the character traits of these two cohorts. First, blogging provides immediate gratification. Second, blogging fits nicely with their desire for customized motherhood. Blogging allows moms to connect with like-minded moms. If you are a Christian mom, you might follow Lori Seaborg’s blog, Just Pure Lovely, and if you are a New York mom you may follow the posts on Mommypoppins.com, where Anna Fader celebrates her New York upbringing by sharing the fun of raising a baby in Manhattan. Blogging also gives moms a platform for cause marketing and philanthropic support. Many moms use their blogs to connect with moms who share the same priorities or values. Finally, blogging as a tool allows moms to retain more of their own individualism. Yes, many of these moms blog on motherhood, but many use their blogs as a sounding board on life. Whether it’s not being satisfied in the bedroom or resenting housekeeping, moms have an outlet for their concerns or frustrations to be heard.
The use of mom blogs allows marketers to maximize the influence of mom mavens. This group, as we know, has long shared information about products, retailers and services with other mothers. Today with the help of the Internet, they can tell thousands, and in some cases millions, of other mothers. I hear more and more from moms that they have added mom blogs to their list of resources when researching a new product, travel destination or retailer. Marketers have quickly come to realize the power of mommy bloggers. Two great marketing initiatives rolled into one- viral online marketing and word of mouth influencers. However, it’s the “how to use mom bloggers” question that has created so much debate in the blogosphere and even more discussion in corporate America. The undefined rules of engagement with bloggers combined with the tidal wave of influence- both positive and negative- that can be generated by bloggers has forced many companies to make mistakes along the way.
Take the example of an egg company who sent out invitations to mom bloggers to distribute their Easter ideas to other moms. A great idea that, you’ll see, was spoiled by poor execution. The mistake that these eager marketers made was to send the Easter pitch to Jewish mom bloggers who were insulted that the marketer didn’t take the time to get to know them. The egg company received a great deal of negative reaction throughout the blogosphere. In traditional outreach, I’m sure that the egg company would not send the Easter ideas to the sports editor at the Washington Post but the appropriate features writer. The same rule applies with mom bloggers. Marketers and public relations professionals must take the time to get to know their target audience. Here are a few rules to remember in engaging Mom Bloggers:
1) Take the time to get to know the mom before contacting her.
I suggest reading the blog for a few days or follow the mom on Twitter;
2) Make sure the bloggers you are contacting are people you want representing your brand. Not all mom bloggers are created equal. If you have a problem with the “F” word being used in the same paragraph as your product’s name, it is in your best interest to identify the style of the mommy blogger;
3) Remember they are trying to build their brand just as you are trying to build yours. Create programs that allow the mom blogger to build her traffic via giveaways, sweepstakes, coupon codes and product exclusives;
4) The relationship should be a two way street. Don’t send a blogger a generic press kit with a lot of information about YOU and nothing in it for her. It’s not enough to say, “We think your audience will find this interesting. She doesn’t need your marketing messages, she’s got plenty others in her email inbox;
5) Personalize your communication to her;
6) When all else fails, just ask the mom for help.
Moms love to nurture relationships- not only with her children but also with brands. If you aren’t sure how to work with her, simply express your desire to collaborate and ask her for suggestions. Moms are innovative and creative and happy to help.
There are many ways to leverage your relationships with mom bloggers beyond basic product sampling. Some of the most effective programs include exclusive interviews with celebrity spokespeople, Twitter events, vlogging tours and meal planning kits. Recently, my team sent dinner kits to mom bloggers intended for their husbands. The dinner kits had everything the spouse needed to cook dinner and give mom the night off. As you can imagine, moms loved having dinner planned for them and expressed their appreciation through photos posted to Twitterpics, blog posts, videos posted to www.momtv.com, Facebook mentions and of course lots and lots of tweets. The idea is to get creative and establish a meaningful dialogue with these influential moms.
One final word on engaging mom bloggers: don’t stop at blogging when trying to connect your brand to social media mom influencers. Technology is changing quickly and moms are changing with it. Today’s mothers are quickly introducing video into their blogs and onto their Facebook profiles. Sites such asMomTV.com now have over 50 mom-produced live shows that draw hundreds of mothers every day to videos and vlogs. Newbaby.com boasts over 500 mom vloggers who are reviewing product and chronicling motherhood with their webcam. Moms are moving at the speed of technology and in order to truly engage them in a dialogue with your brand that allows them to share with their peers, you must communicate in a way that stays up with their multi-tasking, multi-media lives.
(1) -Wright, Susan. “BlogHer Statistics,” US National Census Data Projections, June 2007, www.compasspartners-llc.com.
Maria Bailey is CEO of BSM Media, a marketing and media firm that engages moms with brands. She is the author of “Marketing to Moms”, “Trillion Dollar Moms” and “Mom 3.0: Marketing with Today’s Mothers by Leveraging New Media and Technology”. She blogs at www.bluesuitmom.com and is the co-founder of MomTV.com, Newbaby.com and MomSelect.com. Marketers can watch her on www.marketingtomomsTV.com or follow her on Twitter(MomTalkRadio).