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March 19, 2011
Mommy Bloggers and the Loss of Nuance
 
Back in 2008, a ProBlogger article predicted that mommy bloggers would “become the next big ‘It’ when it comes to the Internet.” Fast-forward a few years and there are now 3.7 million mommy bloggers (according to an October 2010 report from eMarketer). Nielsen’s research team ranks the top mom bloggers in the U.S in “The Power Mom 50.” And brands such as Pepsi, Walmart, and Johnson & Johnsonhave all courted mommy bloggers for their marketing campaigns.
 
There’s no denying that mommy bloggers have become marketing heavyweights. These online women and their networks wield enormous power over brand perception and business. If you’re involved in PR or social media marketing, no doubt you’ve considered, or have been asked to consider, how to leverage this powerful network to spread your message. Maybe it was a client who said “I’d like to be featured in a mommy blog.”Or, your division director said, “Let’s get some positive reviews from a few mommy bloggers.”
 
I can think of countless products and brands where this strategy makes sense, but I can think of even more examples where the voices of mommy bloggers just don’t matter. And here’s the problem: In the quest to find this influencer du jour, you may actually be missing out on the real influencers for your market.
 
In business we too often fall prey to patterning our strategies from the success of others. We see countless case studies and examples of the mommy bloggers’ power cited in mainstream outlets and marketing conferences. And if Brand A found success with five mommy bloggers, then why can’t you spread the word about your brand with five mommy bloggers of your own?
 
The allure of these examples is certainly compelling, but markets and consumers are hardly “one size fits all.” A given blogger may be highly influential in Market Segment A (e.g. Math Curriculums for Grades 1-3), but relatively unknown in Market Segment B (e.g. Education Software). After all, influence can only be “influential” as it relates to the topic at hand ¾such as your brand, company, or market segment. If someone is not actively discussing a set of ideas that your target audience cares about, the potential for actual influence is slim.
 
Beyond relevancy to your brand, there’s another common misstep when it comes to courting mommy bloggers. There’s an incorrect assumption that mommy bloggers represent one big homogenous group. But talk to any mother and you’ll quickly realize that motherhood is just one facet of her identity. The same holds true for mommy bloggers.
 
Yes, mommy bloggers are all mothers. And they undoubtedly share similar stories about juggling motherhood and managing their blog and business. But that’s usually where the similarities end. One mommy blogger may be a jewelry designer with an interest in microbrews…one enjoys mountain biking and tech gadgets…or entrepreneurship, yoga, gardening, environmentally-friendly products…you get the point.
 
Assuming that mommy bloggers will all care about your product or brand just because they’re mothers is simply the wrong way to go about identifying influencers to target. This is really no different than blindly targeting all male reporters with your new aftershave product, or assuming that every journalist under the “technology beat” will care about your iPhone game.
 
Lazy or misguided marketers will abuse their lists of mommy bloggers, sending out countless press releases and generic pitch ideas to hundreds, if not thousands, of targets at once with the hopes of finding a few receptive bloggers. These email blasts accomplish nothing except to clutter email inboxes, create a new breed of jaded journalists, and tarnish the reputation of the PR industry.
 
So what’s needed instead? Savvy marketers will look beyond the “mommy blogger” moniker, or any press lists built around generic titles and beats, and make sure that an individual blogger is interested in the specific market for their product or service. This means diving into bloggers’ previous work to learn the particular nuances of their interests. What topics have they been writing about this month? What did they write about last year?
 
In essence, you need to dive into the entire blogosphere¾mommy bloggers and beyond¾and whittle it down to those who are truly passionate about the specific industry, product, or service you are marketing. It’s these individuals who will be receptive and motivated to share your message with their network. And their voices are also more likely to drive action among a contingent of vested and loyal advocates.
 
This level of research requires lots of manual work (although there are new tools to help streamline this process…). Finding your key targets boils down to two questions: Which bloggers are talking about an area that my market cares about? andDo these bloggers have the social capital and authority to influence my market?
 
Seen in this light, identifying your key targets is more about topical relevancy, and less about what’s hot at the moment. Rather than following the trends of the latest marketing success stories, you can blaze your own trail¾one that’s directly pertinent to your client and/or brand. While your clients or managers may have preconceived expectations for their own mommy blogger success story, you can instead show them their true influencers, including “long tail” influencers who never made anyone’s initial radar. Because more often than not, your true market influencers are not who you’re expecting them to be.
 
This is your opportunity to bring real value to your clients and company. Anyone can follow a cookie cutter template. But true pros know how to craft a tailored plan for a given market and bring their own ideas to the table. 

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Gary Lee is the CEO of mBLAST, providing cloud-based solutions to help PR and marketing professionals better identify and engage with their key Influencers.

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