You may not have heard but one of the denizens of mommy blogger communities that have popped up to exploit marketers’ fascination with this fashionable demographic have declared that August 10-16th will be the first official “PR Blackout,” because mommy bloggers are “simply doing too much.” While Momdot may not have the influence of larger blogger networks that more successfully pimp out mommy content to the highest bidder, the initiative has gained some steam, at least in the insular worlds of PR and mommy blogging.
I’m with the mommies on this one. I propose that PR practitioners join this fight and show their support by taking it one step further and blacking out mommies for the remainder of 2009. No more free iPods or trips to LA to demo your client’s product. No more free rides to the BlogHer conference from their hotel or subscriptions to services they would never pay for. Just flat out cut them off and give them the freedom to resume their non-branded activities for the remainder of the year. They’ll be better off, you’ll be better off and your clients will be better off. More importantly, maybe somewhere a child will get a little more attention.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate mommy bloggers. In fact, I think mommy bloggers are one of the most closely knit online communities that have emerged from the social media cloud. They understand the tools at their disposal and have been great at building a network that is obviously very attractive to marketers and, subsequently, PR people. They’re often smart women that control substantial portions of the total household income. Moms buy products for their sons, daughters and husbands so they super consumers, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Yes, mothers are extremely important, if you can reach them in a meaningful way. The marketing data doesn’t lie about the role these women are playing in thier families. For me, the part where the fog starts to roll in is with the mommy bloggers and what weight they hold with larger networks of mothers. I’d argue that the influence of mommy bloggers is completely overblown for a few key reasons:
- Echochamber – Mommy bloggers are read primarily by other mommy bloggers. They are all fighting for SOV so they all link to each other, follow each other on Twitter and, in many cases, click on each other’s ads. Sound familiar? Yes, this is the same thing that happened in tech until the industry realized that Robert Scoble‘s endorsement isn’t going to make anyone buy stock in your company.
- Oversaturation – Mommy blogs and the networks that pimp them out have created a totally oversaturated media segment that makes NASCAR look organic. Brand sponsorships of confessional parenting diatribes that range from voyeristic to flat out spam are not only bad media buys but also put an ugly tint on your brand.
- Trust – Because you can buy a mommy blogger from a variety of different networks and get them to do just about anything, a mommy blogger endorsement isn’t exactly what it appears to be. There have been so many glowing endorsements of Swiffers and Tide that people who read these blogs have trained themselves to ignore them and treat them like banner ads. When you lose the trust of editorial content, you can’t claim the same value as editorial content (regardless of your disclaimer).
- Numbers – Since mommy bloggers live primarily within the world of social media, they’re subject to all the meaningless friend/fan/follower numbers that boost up people with limited influence in the real world. You can get a lot of Twitter followers if you have a few hours of free time every day but that doesn’t make you influential.
There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. Only a fraction of moms who blog end up falling for the blogging-for-dollars schemes but it is a very vocal minority that does and that affects the whole segment. Mommy bloggers are right to step away from PR people for a while and PR people should do the same. It’s fad PR and there are better way to spend your client’s money. Maybe there is a creative way to connect with the 99% percent of moms who don’t blog.