When it comes to consumer goods, moms are big spenders. We look at their online habits and expectations to help your small business tap into this major market.
Want to grab your share of $2.4 trillion? That’s how much U.S. moms spent last year. Not only are moms power spenders, they’re also power users of social media. And understanding moms’ social media habits and expectations can help your small business capture this mother of all markets.
First, know that social media is central to the mom world. “Three out of five moms blog, three out of five engage with each other on Twitter, and nine out of 10 cite Facebook as their go-to online destination,” says Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting. In a study this year by Child’s Play Communications, Pinterest was the social platform most moms (63 percent) tried for the first time this year, while Instagram topped the list of sites they plan to try next.
Social media is creating a “profound power shift,” says DeBroff. “Moms have built up an online network of trusted advisors and turn to these sources for word-of-mouth recommendations when considering a purchase.” Moms now have an active voice in the marketplace, and are more open to trying new brands or products based on what others recommend. “For businesses,” says DeBroff, “this shift in brand loyalty represents both a challenge and an opportunity.”
To take advantage of that opportunity, you must first understand the three things moms expect from your business on social media:
1. Relationships. “Moms want connections, conversations and sustained relationships with brands — not top-down marketing messages,” says DeBroff. “Focus on how to foster this ongoing connectivity, rather than on specific platforms.”
2. Relevant content. When marketing to a mom, what matters is not her age, but the age of her children, says Bleema Bershad, a partner at MomFocus Marketing. “We call these ‘mom stages.’” Tap into your customers’ mom stages to provide relevant offers and content, such as potty-training tips plus deals on diapers.
3. Customer service. “Moms expect social media to be an extension of your customer service,” warns Bershad. “If Mom asks a question on your Facebook page, she expects a response.”
How can a business owner on a budget meet these high expectations for social media? It’s easier than you think. Start with a layered approach. “Moms are busy and have fractured attention, so the more touchpoints you use to reach them, the better,” says Vera Holroyd, a partner with Bershad at MomFocus Marketing. “That said, it’s better to focus on two or three platforms and do them well than to start out with six and do them all halfway.”
Holroyd recommends starting with Facebook because it’s the No. 1 site with moms and offers a versatile platform for both quick posts and long-term dialogue. “Pinterest, while small, is growing like crazy,” she adds.
Your time is precious, so keep your social strategy simple:
- Curate. “You don’t have to create content — you can just curate it,” Bershad says. Share quick links to relevant articles. Moms will appreciate it and share them with their friends.
- Get visual. “Moms don’t need a lot of words to be moved and motivated,” says Bershad. “They like pictures, and that’s fast and easy.” Post snapshots of your hot products or happy customers.
- Enlist bloggers. Child’s Play Communications found blogs impact moms’ purchasing decisions more than any other social media platform — and you don’t have to start your own blog to benefit. “Partner with an existing mom blogger whose angle ties in with your business,” Bershad suggests. Write guest posts, contribute relevant comments or ask the blogger to review your product.
As you develop your strategy, understand how moms’ approach to social media is maturing:
- They’re picky. With a huge proliferation of brands seeking moms’ attention online, “[they’re] becoming much more selective and seeking meaningful reasons to follow a brand,” cautions Bershad. “That could mean special access to a hot product, a limited edition or a meaningful percentage off.”
- They’re not just moms. Moms are also becoming more thoughtful about what they share online and how it reflects on them, not just as moms but also as adults. For instance, Bershad points to “Thomas the Tank Engine” as a brand moms love, but aren’t going to “like” online.
- They’ve got kids in tow. More moms are involving their children in social media. “She won’t leave her children alone in front of Facebook,” Bershad says, “but she will share content with them, such as photos and videos, so keep this ‘dual audience’ in mind.”
Last but not least, think mobile. “One of our surveys found that 91 percent of moms own a cell phone, and it’s the No. 1 item moms would most regret leaving at home while out running errands — ahead of a purse, or even a diaper bag,” says DeBroff. “Mobile gives brands the ability to reach moms regardless of their location.” DeBroff suggests reaching out with mobile apps, coupons or special offers.
Bershad says location-based marketing tools such as Groupon can send timely offers to moms on the go; you can also send email and texts to moms who opt in. MomFocus Marketing helped one restaurant client boost business by sending moms reminders to consider the restaurant for midweek dinners. “Multitasking moms appreciate reminders,” says Bershad, “and with the right offer, you can be her hero.”