It Takes a Village…

Whether it’s in the real or virtual world, raising a family takes a community. Marketers need to find honest ways to connect with the online communities now, more than ever.

Whenever I consider a new product, service or even health supplement, I turn to Google. I skip right past the manufacturer’s web site and even first few listings that show up and jump straight to the blogosphere and online communities where the real, honest conversations are happening. And if, during my research, I encounter honest feedback from a fellow working mom, I tend to trust her feedback even more.

The number of US mothers who write blogs is now estimated at 4 million strong  (October 2010, eMarketer). Although they all share the common bond of motherhood, they are an extremely diverse group, bringing insight and background from a variety of experiences, education levels, and cultures.

The blogs they write cover subjects from parenting, health, spiritual, travel, technology, and fashion – although, like my own personal blog, they tend to mix it up.  A single blog can focus on many different topics, rather than just one core idea. And mixing up the topics helps make the blog appear more real, and less like a corporate, goal-oriented blog contrived to simply push a product or brand.

Although a small percentage compared to the 32 million moms who are estimated to be online now, these 4 million bloggers are the core “influencers” online.  Small in numbers, loud in voice. In other words, the other women researching new products, services, cosmetic surgery, health supplements, local contractors, baby products or anything else online are listening and reacting to comments, reviews and blog entries.

The company also has 300+ free bloggers which they send promotional /product samples to. In the blog posts, their customers hardly ever mention the LeapFrog brand or products directly. However by aligning their online reputation with the voice of real parents and teachers, LeapFrog was named the “best parenting brand”. Trust and loyalty have been woven into this campaign very naturally. (For more information on how LeapFrog and other companies are leveraging online communities, check out the 3rd Edition of Low Budget Online Marketing for Small Business, due out in November 2010)

Reaching out to the mommy bloggers requires regular, honest interaction laced with real information rather than simply pushing coupons and contests.  Making it easy for moms to review your product is key. Time is precious and limited, especially to the working mom.

What blogs or communities do you turn to for advice?

Do you have ideas on how marketers can encourage bloggers to promote their products in an honest, genuine way on those sites?

Do you have your own blog where you review products?

Share your thoughts and web links below.

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