Women bloggers have claimed ascendancy in the blogosphere for many years now, and the rise and rise of the female blogger can be tracked in tandem with BlogHer – the conference founded in 2005, with the aim to promote the idea of women’s blogging. The conference started with just 300 attending the inaugural event in Silicon Valley.
These days, there are thousands of attendees at the annual conference, and BlogHer has grown into a powerful year-round enterprise, hosting member blog posts under the BlogHer masthead. It’s grown from a minority advocacy group to a gathering of movers and shakers from across the web.
The nature of mommy blogging
It almost goes without saying that the backbone of women’s blogging is assuredly the mommy blogger. You can’t move on the internet these days without stumbling across a ‘mommy blog’ – they tap into an existing need to connect and share with other moms. It’s the concept of neighbourhood mothers’ group, snowballing exponentially across the web.
But it’s not all Instagrammed photos of craft activities and shared tips on sleep. Mommy blogging is turning into serious business. BlogHer ’12 drew some criticism from attendees who found it overcrowded (4,500 attended this year), and it was noted that in the expo sessions – aimed at building relationships between businesses and bloggers – there was more emphasis on getting free giveaways (or ‘swag’, as it’s known in BlogHer circles) and less on building authentic relationships. According to Mommy Reporter, some of the brands present didn’t seem to be there to pursue relationships with bloggers, rather, they were handing out samples and collecting business cards.
The economics of mommy blogging
Advertisers have begun to realise the effectiveness of marketing to the mommy blogger audience – hence the clamour dole out freebies. Collectively, moms wield a lot of buying power. Yet they are far from passive consumers: they research, compare, discuss and review products, activities which mom-facing blogs assist. If you need any more proof of how seriously the mom ‘vote’ should be taken, Barack Obama addressed the BlogHer conference this year via webcam.
The social media halo of mommy blogs is an increasingly important aspect of the market, and brands are increasingly using tools like social media monitor Brandwatch in order to track top influencers in the mom blogger sphere, as well as gauge the mood of the market and sentiment regarding certain products.
Many mom bloggers are exploring making revenue from their blogs: establishing themselves as objective authorities with quality content and authentic relationships, and there is a certain fluidity between being a mommy blogger and a ‘mompreneur’ – a good indicator that with quality content and an engaged readership, many mom bloggers will reap financial benefit for their efforts.
The geography of mommy blogging
Mom blogging is of course not exclusive to the US, either: the sisterhood of UK mommy bloggers is almost as established as those over the pond, and with the Cybher conference beginning this year, and BritMums Live boasting 500+ attendees, we are certain to see an increasingly savvy array of mom-facing blogs with both the technical skills and tactical nous to capitalise on their products. Branded mommy blogger events like the one held this year by high street label Next are also bound to be on the increase.
However the question of transparency is a pressing one – with little to stop less scrupulous bloggers taking cash for comment, in 2009 the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated its guidelines for the first time in almost 30 years to include blogging, with offenders facing fines of up to $11,000 for non-disclosure of any paid opinion pieces. While the majority of bloggers do opt for full disclosure, there are currently no formal guidelines for blogger advertising in the UK. Nevertheless, with shrewd audiences already excellent at sniffing out advertorial and dodgy promotional material, it is likely that transparent blogs will self-select as the most viewed, trusted and shared.
Does the UK need to formalise an advertising policy with bloggers? Are blog consumers smart enough to recognise cash for comment?
Kristian Bannister is a Content Executive at social media agency No Pork Pies.
Excellent article, Kristian! I would vote “no” and “yes” to your last two questions.