Mass media (and some mom bloggers) would like to lump all mom bloggers into the same shoebox. As a result, it’s hard for marketers to navigate these waters without recognizing the differences between bloggers in the space.
Just as there are different types of magazines and newspapers, so there are different types of mom blogs. I’ve been researching the sphere of mom blogs for more than six months, and can generally classify them by three distinct types. I’ll describe them, along with providing some foothold references to traditional media, in the hopes of dispelling some questions. Comments from you are (of course) more than welcome!
1. Pitch Me – The marketing-focused mom blog
This is the blogger who says, “think of me as an extension of your marketing department.” The blog front page usually includes a “PR Friendly” button. This blog typically features lots of competitions, and wants to promote as much stuff as possible. Much like an advertorial-focused trade publication, there can be much value in the blog content, it can be very professionally done, and have a wide distribution.
The blog owner may have ideas which extend to a complete campaign – they are like independent specialist creative agencies, but with a blog. Sometimes they will even want to negotiate a fee for their work with a brand and product (reflecting their role as being focused on marketing with your brand rather than an independent publisher). This is not new – there are older traditional publications that have done this type of thing – charging a company to have an article included.
The negative side of this is that while popular, the audience of these blogs recognizes that most of the content on the blogs comes from a marketing alignment (just as happens with traditional advertorial-focused magazines) and their purpose in visiting the site is to win stuff. Any kind of stuff. It is this type of blog that MSM (mistakenly) classify all mom blogs as.
For brands, it may appear easier to work with these bloggers – they are eager to develop a relationship with most PR representatives that have taken time to craft their pitch and do a little research on the blog and their style. This is not unlike pitching any kind of magazine, including the marketing-oriented advertorial ones. However, you should be ready to be asked for compensation for the inclusion of your material, whether you write and develop it or they do. These relationships are probably best suited to FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) products. The relationship is fast, and shallow – any belief that long-term resonance with the community will be achieved in this high noise space is fools gold, unless you run continuing promotions across a wide number of them (keeping it at high level is important here because your brand will be tarnished by a relationship with a Pitch Me blog that is low quality).
Prediction: These are the sites that are fast growing in number. There will remain a few high level blogs in the category, and these will develop to possibly being the best looking sites on the web – a necessity from sheer competition within the category. Sheer traffic numbers, however, do not demonstrate the readership’s commitment to the blog but rather to the range of competitions and giveaways. Because they tend to use passive voice, unless the blogger is in the top tier of these blogs, they are only of passing interest to the large readership and are not in themselves memorable brands to associate yours with. For deeper resonance on higher priced items, best find another outlet.
2. My Magazine – Multi-niche magazine-style blogs
These blogs reflect far less of a marketing approach and more of an individual, active voice. The blog will cover a variety of areas, generally reflecting special personal interests of the blogger (who may actually be a specialist or expert in one of these areas). These bloggers are open to receiving information about products/services/companies/brands across the realm of interests they cover, but nothing beyond that. In fact you’ll annoy them if you try – sort of like pitching a wedding venue to divorce magazine. Not only is it a waste of everyone’s time, it’s actually unprofessional and demonstrates a lack of understanding and/or basic research. And these bloggers are likely to call you out on exactly that.
The premise of providing compensation of some form to these bloggers depends upon the type of product, campaign and information you have. If you are looking for particular amount or style of coverage to be guaranteed, then it’s advertising and you need to pay whether you provide all the content, or if the blogger develops it themselves. Depending upon the blog (and its hosting location in the world), disclosures of these arrangements will be necessary. If you are willing to offer a product/information and hope that you’ve got enough nouse (and the blogger is interested enough) to hope to get something written, then you don’t pay. Of course, you’re familiar with this – it’s the same as a traditional general interest magazine and the writing ethics are reflective of a traditional journalist (even if the writing style itself is different). They have a more active voice and agency on their blogs, and do not focus primarily on competitions or marketing. They reflect more of the traditional journalistic standards in their writing, and will develop distinct areas of advertising and editorial to ensure adequate compensation and understanding is achieved for all parties, including their readers. They will sometimes actually feature boycotts and dissention rather than promotion (something you will not find in a Pitch Me blog). You will have a better idea of the readership of this type of blog, allowing better segmentation for more specialized products, or more specialized market segments – great for brand extensions or highly targeted mass consumer campaigns in the blogger’s interest category.
Prediction: These bloggers will align themselves with a few brands and have some short-term campaigns that will be highly effective for all concerned. Some of these bloggers will become more and more celebrated within their segments, through MSM outlets. While there are fewer of them, their range is wide and a somewhat varied audience of people find them to be ‘sticky’ sites that they will regularly return to.
3. Niche specialized blogs
These bloggers are becoming the new version of traditional specialized (or event trade) magazines. Focusing on a single general area such as health or politics, these bloggers have detailed knowledge and understanding in their field, and have enough passion and/or specialised expertise to blog authoratively about it. While they are moms/mums, they do not focus on product reviews, competitions and giveaways – however they might run them occasionally if it complements their niche. These blogs have far lower readership numbers overall, but the readers are influencers in the category, and are very loyal to the blogs in the space. These blogs are very sticky to those who are influential in the subject matter. The readership also has deep respect for the blogger’s expertise and looks to them for specific recommendations.
These bloggers are also the ones least likely to enter into a variety of advertorial-style campaign deals. They will want to work with specific brands only, and develop a ‘brand ambassador’ relationship that is more akin to a spokesperson role. Through that relationship, some form of compensation would be negotiated, that would not necessarily guarantee coverage on the blog. These blogs are better suited to high-end, or specialized products with a defined niche target audience.
Prediction: This area will be growing in breadth and depth over the next year as more women with specialised interests and expertise decide to blog, and as some early entries to the competition-focused FMCG field move on and develop a loyal base focused on competitions in one category.
Over time, the tiers of influence to be found in each of these areas will prove themselves. In much the same way as you already use your media monitoring forces to discover influencers in traditional media, you should utilize the same strategies for blogs and bloggers. Just like journalists, they have their brand passions – and their brand dislikes. More and more often, they have their story needs and deadlines that will see you gain the most favourable treatment when you can help them at the most appropriate time (just as you do with journalists). Some already have editorial calendars – you should ask for them, and use them. The only difference is that the internet works on dog years – the field changes seven times a year, not once. It’s a challenge to keep up, but everyone should at least try.
Finally, it would be a mistake to trash any of these three types of mom blogs. Each of them have a place – and there are great and not-so-great iterations of all three types. Depending on the brand, the best relationships will be had by aligning with the best blog (and blogger) for the objective – and these decisions need to be made with consideration of more than traffic numbers, google rankings or other shallow metrics in mind.