Ask a mummy blogger why she started blogging and she will generally say the same as me: “I had to get all this stuff out of my head”.
For some mums that might be that they have a child who is autistic and they want to raise awareness, vent about form filling, systems designed to help that actually hinder, or they are just seeking support from fellow parents. Or they might be mums suffering from post natal depression who need to get off their chests how they are feeling and find mutual support from other sufferers, past and present.
For me, it was different. I found that working from home means that I don’t get a chance to rant about the Kardashians or Honey Boo Boo or Jamie Oliver’s latest 15 minute recipe book over a cup of tea with colleagues. For my husband’s sanity I have to get it “out there” somewhere so my blog www.mummybarrow.com is my little part of the world wide web to put my opinion across and, sometimes, spark a debate with others.
I have been blogging for over a year now and I have seen my subscriber list and Twitter followers increase on a daily basis. It seems people like hearing my opinions on world events, newspaper articles or chocolate. A fact that both surprises me and at the same time makes me just a little bit proud. Who would have thought that a tubby middle aged housewife from Hampshire might be saying something that other people want to hear?
And now it seems that various brands want to hear my opinion and to blog about their products.
Mummy bloggers are great for brands. You send us a product, we use it and we talk about it on our blogs. Blogs that are part of larger communities: Love All Blogs, Britmums, Netmums, Tots100 to name but four. Communities who, in turn, will promote those blog posts to their subscribers and followers. Who will RT our tweets on Twitter when we talk about your products. Who will be promoting YOUR product simply because they trust the blogger.
Beware though. Mummy bloggers are not stupid. We now know the value of our blogs and how powerful our voices can be. We are unlikely to want to promote a product that has a retail price of £5 JUST because it has been sent to us. A brand was horrified recently when I turned down the opportunity to review a tube of teething gel that retails at £1.99. “I have read your blog and see you have children”. Yes, I do. They are 18, 17 and 14. So teething gel is not something I can get passionate about.
Nor do we necessarily want to publish a pre written press release just because it has been sent to us. Many brands and PR companies think we should be flattered to have been chosen to cut and paste a document that includes a back link to a site we have no interest in.
We are not free advertising. We work hard on our blogs, we pay to join some of these communities, we photograph products and write up these reviews. We promote them on our Facebook pages and on Twitter. Do brands really think we are going to do that for product we don’t have an affinity with?
Get it right though and brands can have us eating out of their hands, doing much of their PR for them. I am incredibly loyal to the brands that I have reviewed on my blog. They approached me in the right way, they made a killer pitch and they see me as a brand ambassador, not just as an advertising space on the world wide web. I have continually talked about them whenever I can. If I see other people asking “anybody tried this?” I will jump in and sing the praises of the brand or the product.
To me, mummy bloggers offer the kind of publicity that many brands cannot buy. We should be taken seriously and certainly not viewed as mummy blaggers.
Now if you will excuse me I have a whole box of chocolates to get through for my next post.
You can find Mummy Barrow at www.mummybarrow.com or @mummybarrow
In the early days of social media and web 2.0, brands and marketers were fascinated and scared at the same time by how the new web was enabling direct access to consumers. Brands discovered the power of reaching millions of customers on a one-to-one basis, while marketers helped them deal with unsolicited feedback on issues related to their product/service; or in fact, anything that could help the brand increase its social proximity to the prospective client.
Still, what we now know is this:
– People (and people behind brands) can’t socialise with millions of people at the same time. According to Dunbar, we as individuals can’t actually develop relationships with more than 150 people at a given time.
– Humans have an irrepressible desire to differentiate and socialise with like-minded people sharing a passion or an objective.
– Engagement/socialisation happens mostly while sharing content, and different people in the ecosystem started to play different roles like content writing and content distribution (what Forrester calls Mass Mavens and Mass Connectors)
– Bloggers play a key role in the eco-system both as Mavens and Connectors, (see this Yahoo! Study on the role of bloggers in Twitter).
The net is that the social Internet is far from being flat, but reveals itself more as a network of tribes with their own rules, slang, symbols and influencers.
“Community is the new demographics” (as Jaffe Juice puts it). “One size fits all” programmes, whether they entail listening, engagement, or a “Facebook fan page with millions of people sharing nothing but a like” clearly fail to grasp the diversity of these tribes and communities.
To really understand communities, we have to look at them in context.
Here below is a visual example from the UK “Mums” Community in eCairn.
Each node represents one UK mummy blogger; arrows between nodes represent links (direct reference or blogroll) and the colour is automatically assigned based on the discovery of clusters of nodes.
Different clusters make up the UK Mums community, as shown above: a core red cluster is mainly talking about parenting and general mum topics; the green cluster is more focussed on food; others (navy blue) are into books/writing or (purple) fashion.
That said, it is still difficult to discern the motivation for people to connect in a separated group, like the yellow cluster.
So, what is it they talk about? Here is a mining of last week’s conversations:
Besides the usual suspects, you will notice “Father’s Day” and “Three word gallery”. The latter, which refers to a contest in which mums have to come up with creative, three-word-long taglines for photos, strikes me as a particularly good example of how social the Internet has become.
And who are these mums? Here are a few of them…
The most influential mum in the UK:
The most vocal mum on the topic of vouchers and coupons:
Another point worth noting is the absence of “coupon” or “voucher” among the top expressions. Using US moms as a benchmark, it is clear that vouchers/coupons do not have the same importance on both sides of the Atlantic.
As you can see from this example, engaging with social media is far more complex than just replying to anyone who mentions a brand name or a topic.
And I guess this is excellent news for marketing professionals!
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