Commentary

Moderating A Shaming-Free Experience

Facebook may get more than 40% of social media visits nowadays, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for upstarts who offer a focused — and nurturing — alternative. Take mom.life, which started as a pregnancy tracker called Preggie in the Czech Republic two years ago and has recently relaunched to include moms raising kids from birth to about kindergarten age. 

It has had more than 700,000 downloads worldwide serving moms speaking 10 distinct languages, including about 70,000 users in the U.S., according to Dee Anna McPherson, a veteran of Hootsuite, Yammer, Edelman and Ogilvy, among others. She recently joined mom.life as its San Francisco-based president, CMO and co-founder.  

“You regularly face that constant scrutiny when you’re sharing in social media," says McPherson. “When you’re a new mom especially, you’re always feeling compelled to share about your child. And when you do it on Facebook, or when you do it on Instagram, a) people kind of get sick of it and b) you’re often opening yourself up to even well-meaning criticism. ‘Oh, I see you’re bottle-feeding your child. Don’t you know it’s better to breast-feed?’”

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Not that mom.life members don’t talk about such subjects. Heart-to-heart conversations on sometimes touchy or gritty subjects such as natural parenting, postpartum depression or getting back into shape are, in fact, its soul. It’s all just done in a safe and civil — which means moderated — manner.

“It’s a place where you can be very real and very authentic, and you don’t have to just share your highlight reel,” McPherson says, pointing out that the conversations “can be very raw.” But there are strict community guidelines that “say you can’t criticize, shame, give unwanted negative feedback,” McPherson says. “And if that happens, someone can just tap on it and a community manager will review it and can remove it.”

As a result, the moms “feel very comfortable about getting into very intimate, real, personal struggles because of the nature of the group and the agreement that everybody is there to support each other,” McPherson says.

On the other end of that spectrum, shaming is a major issue in the real world, according to a mom.life survey of mostly Millennial moms in the U.S. between the ages of 18-32 released this week. It found that nearly 80% of respondents had been “mom shamed” or bullied for their parenting choices. Seventy percent of that shaming was done by other moms. It was mostly face-to-face, with only 39% saying it had happened online. Forty-five percent revealed they’d been shamed by perfect strangers; dads, at 7%, were the least likely group to point a finger. Nearly 38% of those shamed said they tried to explain themselves to the bully; 29% just ignored them.

Mom.life is asking moms to share their personal stories on social media using #StopMomShaming.

Brands Can Create Mini Apps
McPherson says that Mom.life recently began selling advertising in Europe and has plans for marketing partnerships in the U.S. that will enable brands to connect with the “famously ad-blind” Millennial mom.

“We are going to let brands create their own mini apps for our moms that provide actual utility,” she says. An example is Med Kit, a mini app put together with GlaxoSmithKline in Europe that answers questions like, “is it okay to take this medication when I’m nursing?”

It’s also working on a mini app in which moms can track their child’s developmental milestones — first word, teething, walking — just as they could in those blue or pink cloth-covered volumes out of another century. In the end, they’ll be able to create a custom infographic, with a photo of the child from all the data that has been input. And given the ready accessibility of the app, parents may be more inclined than their parents were to fill out more than the date of the first observed smile.

“I think there’s a big trend right now toward vertical social networks,” McPherson says, but her vision is much broader than just providing a safe place to converse.

“Our ultimate goal is to be the WeChat for moms,” she reveals, referring to the Chinese mobile messaging app that has a number of functions layered within it, including payment.

“Think of all the services that would be helpful to a new mom, whether it’s childcare or grocery delivery,” she says. Yes, they are already out there but mom.life wants to make them all accessible in one place, “so that this is your go-to app as a mom where you are nurturing relations, you’re asking questions, you’re getting advice, you’re reading content and you’re ordering all the services that you need.”

If only it could change a diaper.

1 comment about "Moderating A Shaming-Free Experience".
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  1. Jacques Bertrand from helpage canada, October 27, 2016 at 4:45 p.m.

    Extremely interesting.  THANK YOU.

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