I spent my day yesterday with a bunch of mommy bloggers, and unexpectedly, it was well worth it. I attended a panel and Bloggers Brunch produced by mommy marketing guru Stephanie Azzarone, president of Child’s Play and author of Mom Market Trends blog. I admit I had less-than-high expectations, as despite the fact I am a “Mommy Blogger” myself, I was not sure I would learn anything from these women.
I had a bias against mommy bloggers, relegating them in my mind as women who gab about being a mom — you know, nonsense about sex with their husbands, gossip about American Idol, recipes for delicious rhubarb pie, blah, blah, blah. Apparently I am not the only one who thinks this way. As one woman at the conference expressed it, “When women get together to talk to other women about issues important to women, they are often not taken seriously.” Like The View: It’s great bubble gum for the brain; perfect for the elliptical trainer or background while you’re cooking, but not mind-enriching.
I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but instead I was pleasantly impressed with the caliber of the panelists and their insights. The quality of the event rivaled any PRSA, EPPS or AMA program I had every attended, and the best part about it was that the organizers and the participants were all MOMS and professionals.
The event’s purpose was twofold, and I believe it accomplished both aims: to educate companies and their PR firms about how and why to reach out to mommy bloggers; and to introduce those companies and firms to prominent mommy bloggers, and vice versa.
The panel featured several women who were bloggers but also social media and marketing experts, and entrepreneurs, such as Jill Asher of Silcon Valley Moms Blog, Ciaran Blumenfeld of Momfluencial, Caryn Bailey of Rockin Mama and Maryanne Conlin (M.C. Milker) of The Not Quite Crunchy Parent.
The panelists had many perspectives on what the mommy blogsphere has to offer, but they were consistent on several key points for PR/marketing practitioners:
As far as Mommy Bloggers asking for money, according to Blumfeld, “This is a myth — that bloggers are out there demanding payment.”
But the panelists agree there are certain circumstances when compensation is appropriate, such as when the blogger is asked to serve as a promotional partner and requiring them to perform in an administrative capacity, such as developing and conducting a contest or creating a video.
On the flip side, bloggers need to justify to marketers why their blog is a good fit for a brand, and they need to have the page views, Facebook fans, Twitter following and mastery of other social networking tools to push the marketers message out. They also need to be know what they want from the companies that approach them. As Blumfeld aptly put it, “Often they’re like two teenagers thrown into a dark room together. They’re all excited, but they don’t know what to do with each other.”
Be creative about how to incentivize bloggers, such as offering them a tour of a company to meet executives and see how a product is manufactured, or offer an event of value to bloggers to turn bloggers into brand evangelists, such as eBay did by hosting a free seminar on SEO for bloggers, but don’t make it a hard-sell. Bloggers are turned off by the “time-share” sales approach.
Of course, all of the focus on marketing begs the question, what really is a mommy blog? Is is an authentic Web-log of daily musings or discussion of important mothering issues; or is it a commercial vehicle to be used by marketers to promote products? The answer is both. As the forum evolves there will be more commercialism, and certainly there is an audience for blogs that are basically advertiser vehicles; but readers will continue to seek out bloggers who are good writers, who address matters that matter and who tell a compelling story, using their own genuine voice.
Overall, my takeaway from the event was that mommy blogging is serious business, and that I have a lot to learn about mommy blogging.
As the sponsors were there for the exposure, and they illustrated by their presence that they value mommy bloggers and what we do, I duly acknowledge them and thank them for their participation: Pottery Barn Kids, Cold Stone Creamery, Nickelodeon, BanDai, Backyard Safari Outfitters, Pajama Jeans and Temptress cosmetics studio.