Aug 15 2011
By Priya Ramesh (@newpr)
McDonald’s recently rolled out the healthier menu for kids program to spread the word about downsizing the french fry portions and adding apples to every kids’ meal. Besides the usual suspects, Facebook, Twitter and traditional outlets, they cleverly engaged the powerful influence of mom bloggers. Rick Wion, director of social media for McDonald’s, says “Mom bloggers are very networked and very linked-in. They spread information very, very quickly.” He also called them “key influencers” and made the statement that some mom bloggers get more eyeballs than city newspapers.
According to BSM Media, moms spend $2.1 trillion a year, and the 21st century mom doesn’t just buy diapers and cleaning supplies, but makes purchasing decisions on everything from cars to electronics. According to Mom Central Consulting, 96 percent of moms value the recommendations they find on mom blogs. So there you go, have you started engaging with mom bloggers to take your brand message online?
Here are two key things to keep in mind before you reach out to mom bloggers so you can be realistic about what to expect. Thanks to Wendy Piersall for these stats http://www.wendypiersall.com/mom-blog-statistics/
Keeping that in mind, let’s think beyond just pitching to mom bloggers and consider how you can engage them to be your brand advocates. These are some best practices that have worked for us at CRT/tanaka in trying to take our B2C clients to mom bloggers:
Invite mom bloggers early on in the planning stage versus the launch mode: A majority of marketers still treat mommy bloggers as a tactic versus a strategic partnership. Instead of introducing your finished product to the Mom Central and BlogHer networks, think about bringing them into your planning stages. You will be surprised how much they can offer in terms of product positioning, pricing and overall promotion strategy. I have personally seen the quality of product launches go up when we have our trusted mom bloggers involved in the initial planning stages versus just “pitching” them the product.
Don’t invite mom bloggers to the party if you are not willing to listen and change: From the Motrin moms to the P&G diaper snafu, mom bloggers are a force to reckon with online. They are the closest you can get to your consumers’ pulse point on a given product or message because of the valuable relationship they share with their millions of readers. Mom bloggers engage in daily conversations with your target audience hence know what works and doesn’t work when it comes to marketing to women. You got to respect that and leverage their knowledge and expertise in getting your messaging right. If your product marketing isn’t willing to shift focus or change tracks based on the feedback you receive from mom bloggers then my recommendation is not to invite them to the table. On the contrary if you are receptive to their feedback, you might also be that much closer to getting your messaging right.
Treat mom bloggers as trusted advisors and keep your communication channels always open with them: One area where brand marketers can be doing a better job is nurturing the relationships they took the time and energy to establish with mom bloggers. If you think having that initial kick off and a follow up meeting is enough to harness the power of mommy bloggers, you have missed out on the long term opportunity to frequently check-in with your trusted advisors. Make it a commitment to meet with them at-least twice a year. Wal-Mart was one of the first ones to invest in a mom blogger initiative. The Wal-Mart Stores’ Eleven Moms panel were initially engaged to weigh in on P&G, Coke and Campbell brands. Wal-Mart has now expanded its program to work closely with mom bloggers. I have had the pleasure of working with one of the eleven founding Wal-Mart mom bloggers, Jenn Fowler who blogs at http://www.frugalupstate.com/about/ and every interaction with her for our client who is in the health and wellness space has been hugely valuable.
Familiarize yourself with what they are passionate about before approaching them: Yeah you have heard this time and again but this is so critical to having the right member on your mom blogger team. Investing some time upfront to research, understand and subscribe to their blogs goes a long way in bringing the right expertise to your brand. Do not approach a mom blogger who is a vegetarian and blogs about vegan food with your new chicken soup recipe. You get the point.
Keep the FTC Regulations in mind when working with mom bloggers: Under the FTC’s new rules, http://www.pcworld.com/article/173169/ftcs_new_rules_for_bloggers_a_quick_guide.html all bloggers MUST disclose any gifts and/or fee they are receiving to write about a brand/product. So if you get a nice review from a mommy blogger who is a member of your social media advisory board (receives a paid fee) or is someone you are getting ready to sponsor for a conference, it is your responsibility to ensure they have full disclosure about their relationship with you on their blog. The FTC guidelines are meant to keep the corporations in check so don’t be stressed out about working closely with mom bloggers as long as you have full disclosures in place.
A good place to start identifying and understading mom bloggers would be BlogHer (the largest online women’s network) and Mom Central. I have had the good fortune of interacting with Lisa Stone, CEO and founder of BlogHer and I can vouch for the wealth of expertise her army of women bloggers bring to marketers like us who spend millions of dollars in focus groups instead of just engaging with mom bloggers. Let’s get smart about leveraing the right “influentials” for that next new product and let’s engage the powerhouse of marketing, the mom bloggers to get it right!