TDmonthly Magazine!
September 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 9
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How to Use Mommy Blogs to Promote Your Products

Free Publicity Comes With a Price


In August, the sixth annual BlogHer Conference was hosted in New York City with sold-out attendance — 2,400 attendees and participants — five months in advance. Out of the more than 100 sponsors, toy companies included PLAYSKOOL, the infant/preschool toy division of Hasbro, Fisher-Price, a subsidiary of Mattel, and MASTERMIND, from Pressman Toy.

BlogHer represents growth among the community of female bloggers, and the importance of reaching this expanding online meeting of the mommy minds.

One of the largest networks of bloggers, BlogHer reaches more than 20 million women each month (Nielsen Site Census, March 2010). Data from the BlogHer-iVillage 2010 Social Media Matters Study reported that “73% of online women are now active social media users, engaging weekly or more often with top social media platforms” and “blogs are second only to Internet search as the preferred media source for product purchasing information for BlogHer Network users.” Followed by the product websites, message boards, and other social networks.

What does this mean for toy manufacturers and the toy industry? Mommy blogs are quickly becoming the main source for product information and public relations. And, in many cases, this equates to free (yes, free) marketing of your product or products.

Lisa Orman, founder of KidStuff Public Relations and Online Social Networker Woman of the Year 2010 (Women In Toys) shared with TDmonthly Magazine some of her blogger relationships.

In a recent campaign, Orman reported that more than 10,000 mom readers of the various blogs she works with made comments on her client and its products, translating into 10,000 moms directly introduced to the client from mom to mom.

Lines with great blog success, she said, include HABA of Germany and its ecommerce site Maukilo, Kids Preferred, Crafty Kids USA, Kids Fly Safe, Marshmallow Fun, Prime Time Toys, Snazzy Baby, The Young Scientists Club and Zillio.

“Crafty Kids USA saw its unique sites visits, orders and click thrus increase dramatically during the blog tour. All of my clients have had favorable experiences!” she told TDmonthly.

Despite their popularity, mommy blogs have received criticism for the following:

  • Catty Comments: This past April, the Today Show aired a segment titled “Mommy Meanest? The Dark Side of Mom Blogs, highlighting the catty, unruly comments and bickering left on some blogs.
  • Negative Stereotypes: The term “mommy blogger” sometimes gets a negative connotation, similar to the negative vibes of the term “soccer mom, ” which was coined during the Clinton presidential campaign to describe one of his largest groups of supporters: intelligent, suburban moms who gave up their careers to raise their children and were still very in tune with news and politics.
  • Ethical Practice: Another backlash to the quickly rising popularity of mommy blogs and the race for prime blog real estate is that ethical issues have been raised about receiving free product in exchange for good reviews. Most mom bloggers, keenly aware of this issue, abide by new guidelines recommending that posts include whether or not they were compensated for their reviews.

Not all mom blogs are created equal. I have found a large majority of blogs to be well-written and supportive of the products they promote. Bloggers have to maintain a level of integrity to insure readership. Readers can sense if a blogger is constantly negative or over-flowing with wonderful reviews – not every product is fantastic and not every product is terrible. And that’s the risk manufacturers and PR firms have to be willing to accept when reaching out to mommy blogs. And, in most cases, we’re talking about products that directly affect their children – a very emotional issue.

But you do have to do your research. Moms all have different reasons for why they are blogging. For some, maintaining their blog is a full-time job; with promotions and incorporating SEO techniques to reach a large audience. And, on the other end, some moms just need a place to chat with other moms and share their mommy experiences – good and bad — with products.

Personally, I began blogging about three years ago because of all the bad press the toy industry was receiving. Having worked in the toy industry for more than 25 years, and being an advocate for it, I felt that moms needed to hear about the industry from the perspective of a toy inventor and mom.

The blogs that have the most page views (75,000+ per month) have created a blog brand. A recent study from the BabyCenter “2010 Mom Social Influencer Report” found that 18 percent of social media moms have 78 percent of the overall influence — a solid example of the 20/80 principle.

How do I approach or find a mommy blog?

  • Read Mommy blogs and look for ones similar to the style and content of your product.
  • Contact the mommy blogger via the contact area on their blog or by email.
  • Let the blogger know how you found them, which shows that you’re not blindly sending out PR requests. Renee Carver, Chicago Children’s Toy Examiner for Examiner.com, has found that she’s “most receptive to being contacted by PR people who have read specific articles I've written or are at least familiar with my toy preferences and are offering to send products that they know I will be interested in and qualified to write about. For example, I've had several PR firms and companies contact me about reviewing educational games or toys, and many have mentioned that they read articles I'd written discussing products similar to theirs.”
  • Engage with bloggers by commenting on their posts or through Twitter, for example. Mary Kay Russell, president of Kubit2me, told TDmonthly, “Get to know your blogger by reading/subscribing to their blog, commenting on their blog, following them on twitter, engage with them before you pitch them.” Your sincerity can shine through with just a few comments and then approach them.
  • Google your product through the Google blog category. Russell also suggested googling 50 top-Mom Blogs, keywords mom-blogger-review, and checking out their analytics at compete.com or another analytic site.

Any lessons learned from mommy blogs?

Michelle Spelman, co-founder of Flying Pig Games, “made the mistake of hurrying into a blog review/giveaway. Once, I had a mom blogger host one. It was great — lots of hits/comments and the review was wonderful. But what I didn't realize is this mom also used her blog to rant — big time — with LOTS of really bad profanity. The very next post after her post about us was so abusive and toilet-mouthed it would make your eyes bleed reading it. I was scarred. That is NOT where we want our brand to be seen.”

Michelle had the same problem with a “man gadget”-type blog. “The next post after ours was a product spotlight for a s@xtoy. Again ... scarred! If I had dug just a bit deeper into the site, I would have seen the clues that this wasn't for us.”

Reaching Out to Mom Bloggers: What to Do

  • Read blogs, including the comments, to see which reviewer is a fit for your product.
  • Check blog stats at Compete.com, Alexa.com or another analytic site.
  • Contact the blogger via a link on their page or email.
  • Understand that the blogger may not post a review immediately. Some of the more popular blogs get over 75 per day requests for a blog review.
  • Make sure your Web page and links work and are easy to read and navigate.
  • Consider giveaways as a fantastic way to drive traffic to a blog and to your site.
  • Be prepared for negative reviews.


Sources:
Lisa Orman, Founder and President of KidStuff Public Relations, Lisa@KidStuffPR.com
Today Show - Today Moms: “Mommy Meanest? The Dark Side of Mom Blogs
BlogHer-iVillage 2010 Social Media Matters Study
BabyCenter “2010 Mom Social Influencer Report



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Anna M. LewisWriter's Bio: Anna M. Lewis is an award-winning toy inventor with over 25 years in the toy industry, and the mother of three wonderful kids. As National Toy Examiner for Examiner.com and contributor to several blogs and websites, Anna writes about the latest news and trends in the toy and publishing industries, and works with all forms of social media and the internet. Anna is also the creator and head of Ideasplash; her company’s goal is to “Inspire Creativity, One Child at a Time”. Read more articles by this author

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