Noa Gafni is a social media consultant with a focus on women and Gen Y. She authors Webutantes, a blog about Internet trends impacting women.
Twitter (Twitter) was the social media success of 2009, one that particularly impacted moms. Twitter garnered rave reviews as the “perfect” social media outlet for mothers: easy to use and access, and the 140 character limit ensured minimal networking effort.
As the microblogging site drew mainstream attention, moms moved from following friends and family to following the updates of brands and celebrities. Household names began tweeting multiple times per day. Martha Stewart made headlines when she publicly declared her preference for Twitter over Facebook (Facebook). Kathy Ireland quickly followed suit. Oprah has over 2.8 million followers, and Ellen DeGeneres has nearly 4 million following her @TheEllenShow account.
As marketers became more comfortable using Facebook, they began targeting moms in more unique and engaging ways. In June, diaper brand Huggies teamed up with Circle of Moms to create a Huggies Zone on Circle of Moms’ Facebook application with parenting information, advice, quizzes, and offers from Huggies’ Enjoy the Ride rewards site. Chains like Outback Steakhouse and Papa John’s Pizza grabbed moms’ attention (and hundreds of thousands of fans) by enticing new fans with coupons.
More recently, Clorox Clean Up and Toys “R” Us reached out to moms through charitable programs. Although these companies have traditionally been involved in sponsoring clothing drives and donating to children’s programs, particularly around the holidays, this is the first year that they promoted these activities and incorporated moms’ support on their Facebook pages. It will be interesting to see how Facebook’s new promotional guidelines will impact these campaigns going forward.
Mommy bloggers became legitimate outlets for PR agencies this year. In 2008, the major mommy blogger issue was whether companies could contact mommy bloggers to test out products and run contests. In 2009, the issue was not if but how to approach bloggers in a respectful, mutually beneficial way. Mom bloggers were credited with fueling a variety of trends, including the Zhu Zhu hamster toy fad. Cool Mom Picks, Mamaista, GuruMommy, and many others have created successful businesses off of their product reviews. The prevalence of product reviews and product endorsement spurred such a controversy that the FTC revised its guidelines. Currently, bloggers must provide disclosure statements on their endorsements in order to avoid hefty fines that could be assessed for each offending post.
Niche Social Networks
Niche social networks for mothers are not new. Major players like Café Mom and Circle of Moms have been around for years. However, the latest sites have a more sophisticated appeal, enabling mothers to connect on topics beyond parenting. CityMommy is a location-based social network for moms in major metropolitan areas across the US. In addition to parenting groups and photo sharing, moms can also discover local events (such as yoga classes and running clubs), up-to-date neighborhood information, and an exhaustive local directory. PoshMama, dubbed “The Hip Hangout for Haute Mamas” is a Ning-operated social network that screens members prior to approving them. The site also features an online magazine with tips on fashion, fitness, and inspirational and informational features like “words to live by” and “gifts that don’t cost a cent.”
2010 should bring even more exciting updates for moms and social media. The increasing penetration of smart phones will create opportunities for forward-thinking brands. Expect more mobile applications and ad campaigns targeting moms. Women are catching up to men in online video viewing and gaming, tools that marketers have, until now, stayed away from when reaching out to moms.
As Facebook tightens its rules around what companies can and cannot do on its site, brands will likely move to more flexible platforms, like Twitter and YouTube (YouTube), for contests. Also, watch out for more multi-platform campaigns, encouraging moms to engage with brands on multiple channels.