I’m not married and I have no kids, so I hadn’t paid much attention to “Mommy bloggers” until i spoke at BlogWorld East in New York City last year.
When the Mommy blog movement started to take off in 2009, I had been dismissive of them, thinking it was more of the same “look at me” drivel that most bloggers had gotten over when Facebook became the platform of choice to vent about such First World Problems as noisy pediatrician waiting rooms and child-induced sleep deprivation.
Go ahead, say what you're thinking: I’m an idiot.
Because Mommy bloggers are a force. BlogWorld was packed with them last year and will likely be full of them again this year (as an aside, I’m speaking again at BlogWorld next month; see the bottom of this post for information on how to get a 10% discount off conference registration). The best ones are making six-figure salaries (for the record, the worst ones, by-and-large, remain unreadable).
The site Moms Who Need Wine, as noted in an article in Thursday's Boston Globe, has more than 570,000 Facebook fans, compared to just a little more than 36,000 for Wine Enthusiast. Wired is launching a new blog today, GeekMom, written by the four moms on its staff. As a block, Mommy bloggers garner the careful attention of Fortune 500 companies seeking a mother’s stamp of approval for their products. McDonald’s, for example, has been setting up shop at the BlogHer conference and flying in top Mom bloggers for exclusive tours of its corporate headquarters in meetings with President Jan Fields and other top executives.
“Originally I found the whole Mommy blogger phenomenon to be a little unsettling and, as a married woman without kids, annoying,” said Leigh Ann Dufurrena of Red Sky Public Relations. “But, what I've discovered, and allowed myself to accept, is that Moms have been harbingers of brands long before blogs, the internet and even Oprah.”
Indeed, big brands know that targeting women, who make 80% of household buying decisions, has long been a key to success. Dufurrena says momvertising goes back generations before the Web became a marketing tool. And, she reasons, is getting a Mom to pitch healthy side-dish items in a Happy Meal any different than Tupperware getting women to host Tupperware parties in the 1960s or Kix coming up with a slogan assuring television viewers that the cereal is "Kid Tested, Mom Approved"?
Low Cost, Big Returns For Advertisers
We weren’t able to interview any of the Mom bloggers who claim to be pulling in six-figure salaries, but all of the Mom bloggers (as well as other niche bloggers) we spoke with said that keeping their blogs was worth the effort.
“I think there are a lot of lower-traffic Mom blogs that are just getting free perks. There are medium-traffic blogs that get some perks and some money,” said Scarlet Paolicchi, who runs Family Focus Blog. “I haven't met any bloggers that make big bucks, but I have read about them and assume they exist.”
Jesse Richardson, who runs the holistic health publication Organic Soul as well as Conscious Box, a monthly subscription service focused on green and sustainable goods, said his young sites rely almost exclusively on mentions from Mommy and other niche bloggers for increasing their visibility. Conscious Box has worked with more than 300 mom bloggers.
“Organic Soul focused on paid social media advertising to build a following, whereas Conscious Box has gone 99% toward unpaid, product-for-service-traded reviews,” Richardson said. “By and large, this has been leaps and bounds better at generating paid customers and return buyers. For us, using Mommy bloggers has replaced used paid advertisements.”
Other, non-parenting brands are likely to jump on the trend. Melissa Murphy, who connects brands with influencers for SocialChorus, is currently working on a campaign for Toyota that's seeking young, hip progressives. Intel, meanwhile, is looking to engage entertainment influencers, and Mountain Dew wants NASCAR fans.
“Although Mommy bloggers are the biggest demo in the social space, all verticals are working with brands,” Murphy said. “If you pair the right brand with the right influencer demo and social currency, anything is possible.”
Is It Advertising? Public Relations? Journalism?
Many bloggers follow Federal Trade Commission guidelines that were implemented in 2009 and require the disclosure of compensation when they endorse a product. But others do not, and there are some grey areas.
“The majority of bloggers we work with are either honest in their product reviews or treating their blogs as a different type of media than a traditional news blog - more like a magazine,” said Julie Wohlberg, the founder of BlogWire and SheBlogs.org, a community of more than 5,000 women who blog. “Mags typically endorse good products, while ignoring bad ones...In the same way, bloggers who receive products will often ignore coverage for the shoddy products and endorse those they like.”
The FTC rules are also designed to monitor the less-scrupulous practice of pay-per-click endorsements. Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder and COO of BlogHer, said the inclusion of bloggers and social media influencers in the FTC guidelines validated the medium.
“It was actually a tremendous validation that blogging is another media channel, subject to the same responsibilities," Page said. “BlogHer's position is that there is no one the women in our community trust more than another woman talking about her experience...We love a deal. We love an opportunity. We just want to know exactly what we're reading before we get out our wallet.”
ReadWriteWeb's Dave Copeland will once again be speaking at BlogWorld East this year. The conference runs June 5-7 at the jacob Javitz Center in New York and Copeland will present "Blogging For Writers" on June 5. For 10% off conference registration, use the promo code BDavidC10 at checkout.