"Motherhood is the ultimate test to see if you can survive a startup," says Esther Crawford, a blogger and young mother of two from Milwaukee, who got to put her startup to the test at last year's BlogHer conference in San Diego. She had singled out the show to launch her innovative photo app--Glmps, which captures five seconds of video immediately before snapping a photo--because BlogHer arguably brings together the highest concentration of mom bloggers in the country.
As conventions go, the crowd of about 4,000 wasn't a huge audience, but that didn't bother Crawford. "My partners, both men, had no concept of the power of social media reach among mom bloggers," she says. They quickly found out.
The first four to five days after Crawford introduced her self-funded app, it was downloaded tens of thousands of times (she won't reveal exact figures), as the BlogHer attendees tweeted, updated Facebook pages and blogged about her product to millions of loyal readers. The Glmps server crashed three times from the traffic. "I already had high expectations for our launch," Crawford says, "but the mom bloggers tripled them."
There are reportedly as many as 4 million mom bloggers in the U.S.; these women share stories constantly through social media and, specifically, through their smartphones. Facebook revealed earlier this year that half its traffic runs on mobile devices, yet the company hasn't figured out how to place ads on them--easily costing the social media giant $1 billion in revenue.
"If I didn't have a smartphone, I couldn't be doing this," says Beth Blecherman, founder of TechMamas.com, a 7-year-old site that reviews technology through the filter of a mom's needs. "It's simple, really--marketing for mobile is using social media." To wit: Her more than 17,700 Twitter followers receive 10 to 30 tweets from her daily, covering her blog's latest posts and her aggregation of news from tech sites and other mom blogs. Those followers in turn share relevant stories to their networks, and so on. Live tweeting from events, product tests, seminars--even, when appropriate, her children's activities--is all fair game, because, as Blecherman says, "Without taking advantage of the instant posting enabled by mobile [devices], you're not relevant in this world."
Our panel of experts tells us there are four key factors to consider for businesses that wish to tap into the mobile-marketing juggernaut.
1. Identify your niche
Don't always chase after the biggest audience; instead, identify "focused mom blogs that share your passion--food, pets, child care, fitness, tech, whatever," says BlogHer co-founder and COO Elisa Camahort Page. Indeed, her company owes its success to culling and curating the women's blogs on its site to make sure its 37 million unique visitors per month are the ones advertisers want. Once you've centered on a niche, see how often those mom bloggers tweet and update Facebook--a writer who rarely uses social media is one who's not reaching thousands of moms' smartphones.
2. Embrace mobile
Since mom blogs' social media reach is driven by smartphones, your product's website must be optimized for those devices and tablets, Crawford contends. Otherwise, you're significantly less likely to have your message shared. Check your site's mobile functionality for free at Google's HowToGoMo.com site. It'll analyze load time and usability for iOS and Android platforms.
3. Beta is a no-no
"Mom bloggers are ruthless," Camahort Page says. "The Silicon Valley adage, ‘Release early, fix later,' won't fly with moms. They have no patience for beta products or websites, and they don't give out second chances."
4. Be relevant
Use social media to take part in real-time conversations--possible only through a smartphone that's by your side 24/7--and become a trusted resource for key mom bloggers who can promote your company. According to Blecherman, you can start by immediately retweeting or sharing posts from mom bloggers and other sources that concern your product's end use.