When Virtual Playgrounds Collide With The Mom Next Door, Marketers Win

Ask any marketer who has been around for a while what the greatest form of marketing is in the mom market, and he or she will undoubtedly answer "word of mouth." Some may even cleverly call it word of mom.

A decade ago, a marketer's dream was to have a mom tell other mothers about their brand or product on the playground. We jumped for joy if moms sitting in focus groups told us that they heard about our product from another mom at a play date. It was difficult to quantify this "word of mouth," but we knew in our guts it was either building brand awareness or driving sales. Then, almost miraculously, the mom blogger was born and suddenly marketers could see and track word of mom in comments, tweets and blog posts.

Today, brand managers clamor to have Mom bloggers write up a product review or tweet about their product. However, in the rush to connect with Mommy bloggers or Social Media Mom Influencers, as I prefer to call them, marketers have forgotten that a mom's influence doesn't live on her hard drive alone. The sphere of influence of a true Mom Influencer transcends her virtual world into the physical community she inhabits on a daily basis. The best word of mom agent is the mom who is active on the virtual AND physical playground.

To support the need for marketers to look at moms in a multidimensional, BSM Media surveyed 1,000 moms who are active in social media online blogging, tweeting or Facebooking. According to the survey, 65% of moms feel they have as much influence offline as they do online. Fifty-two percent of these mothers admitted to sharing product information with an offline friend regularly with another 32% saying that they usually share information they find online with offline peers.

These social media moms not only socialize online but offline as well. Fifty-four percent of them belong to at least three mom-/women-related organization or groups in their physical community with over 35% belong to more than five such groups. Examining the lifestyle of today's most active mothers and most prolific influencer, it should come as no surprise that mom's two worlds become much intertwined.

Today's mothers see few boundaries between the virtual playgroups she socializes in and the moms she chats with in the carpool lane. In the same survey, when asked how she feels about her "offline" and "online" friends, mom tells us that she values them equally -- 48 % responded that she felt equally close to both sets of friends. In fact, over 68% of moms have a virtual friend they desire to meet in person.

So what does this mean to marketers who want to engage mom influencers to create a buzz about their product? It means you must look beyond Technorati and all the impression measurement systems online and look at Social Mom Influencers in a more holistic manner. You need to measure not only how many readers she has on her blog but to examine the number of moms she touches via Twitter, Facebook, PTAs, Girl Scouts, church groups and other offline branding initiatives she might have going on.

There are many mom bloggers who don't show up on lists of the most-read bloggers who are now doing local television segments while writing for their city newspapers. These mothers offer marketers greater reach and a wider sphere of influence than a singularly focused online blogger.

Word of mouth marketing is still alive and well in the offline world even though marketers have shifted their attention in recent days. The most successful marketers in the future will be those that identify the right mom influencer for their brand and facilitate bringing her online playground into her physical neighborhood.

4 comments about "When Virtual Playgrounds Collide With The Mom Next Door, Marketers Win ".
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  1. Cassie Hughes from Grow Marketing, February 3, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more on all fronts! As the co-founder of Grow Marketing, I have spent the last 9 years specifically generating "real-world" word of mouth recommendations with multiple segments: moms, entrepreneurs, fashion mavens, etc. We know that the conversation doesn't just live online, and that the deepest connections are often with those people that we interact with in our daily lives, face-to-face. There are actually new findings that it's predominantly the offline conversations that cause action (trial, purchase, brand advocacy, etc.) and online can amplify that organic buzz.

  2. Jason Baer from Convince & Convert, February 4, 2010 at 11:48 a.m.

    Bingo! Lots of studies show 90% of word of mouth still happens offline. We tend to forget that.

  3. Dave Linabury, February 4, 2010 at 2:33 p.m.

    Totally agree. We've been successfully running the US Navy's Moms community for two years (as of next week!) called NAVYForMoms ( We find mothers to be the most engaged, most passionate and opinionated online demographic. They respond to more topics, post more photos and videos, have more suggestions for improvement and take the topic offline more than any group I've ever worked with and I've been building online communities since the mid-90s.

  4. Anthony Pfeifffer from The Learning Compass,LLC, March 4, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.

    I love your phrase "word of mom". And the "virtual playground to the physical neighborhood.' In developing my business I have struggled with the intersection of online and offline. Do I start the conversation on a grass roots local level or build a list online. Or a hybrid of the two? This post is spot on! Reminds me Malcolm Gladwell's the law of the few "connectors" in his book "The Tipping Point".

    To me, the virtual connection will never be as beautiful and intimate as the old fashioned face to face, heart to heart.

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