But it wasn't just jealousy that drove my interest, it was how the mommy bloggers inadvertently, perhaps, uncovered a central truth about social media marketing: it isn't at all about carefully targeted display ads, or search ads, but about relationship-building. Unfortunately, that isn't something the Facebooks and MySpaces of the world have learned to monetize very well yet. So, while the discovery of the mommy bloggers is great for advertisers, it's not so great for those who are trying to be the broker that connects the bloggers with the marketers. That connection is already happening directly.
I'm going to quote a competitor to Mediapost, Advertising Age, but its packaged-goods reporter, Jack Neff, said it best: "BlogHer helps solve the mystery of how marketers will manage to spend money on social media despite showing relatively little interest in ads on Facebook or MySpace and the numerous free opportunities available everywhere."
Neff than goes on to quote Jill Beraud, the Global Chief Marketing Officer of PepsiCo, who explains that wooing the mommy bloggers is a long-term ROI effort. As for the entire roster of advertisers at BlogHer, it reads like a who's-who of the blue chip: Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Gymboree, Unilever, Kodak.
When you look at that list, you begin to wonder whether the more-than-1,000 women who showed up for the conference are the new reach and frequency. If you believe that word-of-mouth, and the word-of-mouth created by mommy bloggers, is more powerful than banner ads, not to mention TV commercials, you can envision the ramparts of traditional marketing breaking down.
I'm not such a radical to think that TV commercials will go away, but there is still something seismic going on here -- not just in a shift of media dollars away from traditional media, but in advertisers finding that perhaps the best way to market in social media channels has nothing to do with paid media. As Facebook and MySpace try to build their monetization models (and Facebook finds itself embroiled in its second click-fraud suit in recent weeks), let's hope, for their sakes, that they are watching this trend closely, and working on ways to get paid by facilitating the connections between social media moms and advertisers, and/or providing marketers with the intel they need to understand their markets.
Strangely, as I was writing the paragraph above, I got a press release in my email from PQ Media predicting that word-of-mouth, which was a $300 million sector in 2003 will reach $3 billion by 2013. Predictions, as we know, can be pretty faulty, but it's clear that the general trend is up.
It's no coincidence that concurrent to the mommy blogger conference, a small group of mommy bloggers began "Blogs with Integrity," which has been described as a Good Housekeeping-style seal of approval emphasizing that content read on blogs with the organization's seal are not subject to, well, blogola. That both points to the problems with courting mommy bloggers with products and services, and their power. If mommy bloggers can hold onto their credibility, the future is theirs.
You go, girls!