With the fragmentation of media channels and audiences on the internet, it’s become harder than ever for companies and political parties to identify demographic groups united by a creed or culture. But over the past several years, one such collective has emerged and become a major force of influence over consumer and other preferences. These are the Mummy Bloggers.
What you think about Mummy Bloggers probably depends on the angle your relationship to them points from. If you’re a mother of young children, you appreciate the shared wisdom and insight into the sometimes baffling experience of trying to raise a child. If you’re a marketer, you see Mummy Bloggers as a potential gold-mine, a way to disseminate your brand name and products to a consumption-hungry audience. If you’re slightly jaded about the whole people setting up blogs and websites to get free products from companies thing, you probably won’t care much either way.
Mummy Bloggers didn’t start out as a freebie-seeking, swag-bag grabbing group. They were women with something to say talking to other women who wanted to listen. They are undeniably a phenomenon and probably mark the first time in history where women have been able to communicate with each other on a mass scale via a direct channel about their personal experiences of motherhood. Some commentators have gone as far as to label Mummy Bloggers the third wave of feminism.
Somewhere along the way, the movement became commercialised – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Who better to decide which company sells the best baby bottles than a Mummy Blogger? If a mother discovers a company selling, say, a type of lunch box which solves a space in the school-bag problem for her, why shouldn’t she share that information with her followers and fans online? And if she is writing about it, and effectively doing PR for the company, why shouldn’t she get paid for it?
The point about Mummy Bloggers that is often overlooked is that, generally speaking, the most successful ones aren’t just ‘Mummies’ with sick-strewn jumpers and ratty hair. The top bloggers are socially elite and well-educated and usually start blogging while on a having-a-baby break from prestigious corporate careers. In the US there are almost 5 million blogs which qualify as Mummy Blogs, but of that number only about 500 breakthrough and are read by a mass audience.
The other 99% of Mummy Bloggers will never break through into the mainstream, but can nevertheless acquire writing, marketing, PR and social media skills which they can parlay later on into paid careers. Perhaps that’s the real value of the genre to its practitioners. And despite being a digital collective, Mummy Blogging is intensely social. Dedicated conferences like Blogher, CyberMummy and BritMums attach thousands of women who have or hope to start online blogs.
For brands, blogger outreach to Mummy Blogs is increasingly a place where top names battle for attention, hoping for reviews from “real mums” and access to the valuable power of word of mouth. Being a player in the Mummy Blogger world can mean access to free products, getting big media buys and even trips to the red carpet in Hollywood and Caribbean cruises. In the future, this area will become more tightly regulated: in the US the Federal Trade Commission has already issued guidelines requiring bloggers to disclose their connections to advertisers. Expect something similar on these shores soon. Although not until after the next General Election.
It’s unlikely that Mummy Blogs will ever return to their origins, when it was just about the writing and connecting, but expect to see more authenticity in product reviews in the future, as the best Mummy Bloggers seek to protect their reputations and retain their audiences.