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Up to 70 Percent of Toy Companies’ Samples Go to Bloggers

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LeapFrog's LeapPad sent to mom bloggers to create buzz

The Holiday toy shopping season has come and gone and toy companies are now analyzing their sales and marketing efforts. “What worked and what didn’t?” they ask. How toy companies get the word out about their products has changed drastically over the years.

The Associated Press recently published a story on how mommy bloggers can make or break a toy’s success. It was just five short years ago that 98 percent of the samples toy companies sent out went to TV stations, newspapers and magazines. Enter 2011 and as much as 70 percent of their toy samples went to bloggers, says the AP. That’s a huge shift.

LeapFrog’s $99 LeapPad was almost impossible to purchase as we got closer to Christmas and part of that reason could definitely be attributed to mom bloggers, such as Colorado blogger Emily Vanek of ColoradoMoms.com. She was contacted by LeapFrog’s PR to host a “mommy party” for the product. This was LeapFrog’s chance to use word-of-mouth marketing in real life, as well as the online marketing efforts of mom bloggers all over the United States.

Of course, with all things related to mom blogging, there are your critics. Just read the one comment left by “dosolivas” who says, “Mommy blogs are an industry with a scheme ripped straight from ProBlogger.com to build up the ILLUSION of influence. One way they do that is by creating notice on big media sites, soliciting to appear on morning shows, and things like that. This creates the I SAW IT ON TV effect that gets people to think the site must be legit because… they saw it on tv.”

Another commenter chimed in and said they’ve worked with mom bloggers for close to two years and working with them has overall proven to generate buzz for a product.

It will definitely be interesting to watch how companies and mom bloggers (or bloggers in general) work together over the next few years.

Do you think companies will continue to reach out to bloggers for their marketing efforts for years to come, or are we hitting a spike that’s about to start going downhill?

Parenting Blogging is a Business, Let’s Work on Treating It That Way

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Parenting blogging is a business. That’s what Type A Parent founder Kelby Carr expressed today (November 4th) at BlogWorld Los Angeles. In her session entitled “Parent Bloggers Mean Business: Building Success, Respect, Confidence and Income”, she covered some fantastic points on ways parent bloggers can step it up to the next level and be taken seriously.

She had so many insightful words to say about this industry, (And yes, blogging is an industry. Be sure and take a look at some stats from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere Report from today.) but I want to cover just a few that stood out to me.

If you want to set yourself up as a business and be taken seriously, it all starts with earning respect. Here are five points Kelby gave on building respect as a parent blogger:

1. Have confidence.

When it comes to parent bloggers in general, Kelby said what she would like to see is “people having a healthy confidence”. Meaning, not seeing yourself as entitled, but also not having a low self-esteem.

2. Don’t obsess over the competition.

Instead of competing against other bloggers, compete against yourself. Don’t get into dragging other people down, so you can try to win.

3. Get paid for work.

This is a touchy and interesting subject among bloggers and PR companies. Do we pay bloggers and how much? Kelby said “If we work for free, it will bring down our image.”

4. Don’t be a brand groupie.

There is a fine line between networking and falling all over a brand. You don’t need to be rude, but remember it’s a business relationship. Kelby said “Don’t be a fan girl just because they’re a fortune 500 company.”

5. Behave like a professional and treat your blog like the business it is.

Spell check is your friend. A good design is your friend. Being mindful of how you act in the social space is your friend. You know the saying, “If you treat your blog like a business, it will pay like a business”.

Kelby shared many more valuable tips on parenting blogger success including strategic risk taking, reigning in your focus and some tactics for making a living at this thing we call blogging. To hear these tips and more, watch Kelby’s entire session when you purchase the BlogWorld Virtual Ticket.

What are some ways you think parent bloggers can gain respect and do better at treating their blog as a business?

How Can Mom Bloggers Get the Most out of a Social Media Conference?

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In preparation for the upcoming BlogWorld & New Media Expo, LA, the Global Influence Network asked their bloggers the following question:

“How can Mom Bloggers get the most out of attending a social media conference?”

The following is just an excerpt of the great advice given by the network bloggers:

1. Attitude is the key to getting the most out of a conference. Mom Bloggers should remember to be present themselves as professionals who are eager to learn and make solid connections with other attendees and the brands that are represented.
— Valerie Mitchell from Sweeps 4 Bloggers

2. Plan, Prepare and Participate
Plan ahead contact those you want to connect with prior to the conference set up meeting times, plan your days what you will attend, who you will meet, what your goals are etc. Have a PLAN prior to going.

Prepare- create a carry around schedule or use iPad, phone etc, bring business cards, bring a light weight tote to carry around during the day so you don’t have to return to your room multiple times.

Participate- Don’t sit back and wait for others to engage you, engage others by asking questions, join in the events, workshops, panels etc. Participate in social media while at the event tweet, facebook this will create contacts of others attending and may even get you invited to a few after parties by being noticed on social media platforms. Meet new people don’t stick with your same group of those you already know reach out new contacts will take you far”
— Trisha Novotny from 24/7 Moms

3. Mom Bloggers need to know, they are a business too. Just because you carry on conference calls while changing diapers or putting kids down for naps, doesn’t make you less of a business person. Go feeling like you are just as important and knowledgeable as the guy who sits at a desk all day and you will leave feeling confident and connected. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for contact information of someone you admire as well. The “big name bloggers” aren’t as intimidating as you think they are.
— Emily Vanek from Colorado Moms

4. To get the most out of a conference, I feel that a blogger has to enter with an open heart and mind. While I enjoy sessions, I know plenty of people who feel that the networking and connections are far better for their blogging careers.

I feel like there really is no “”wrong way”” to do it unless you close yourself to opportunity.

My one piece of advice at a conference is to be willing to say “”Yes!”” Say yes to opportunity and to experience. Say yes to meeting new people. Say yes to putting yourself out there.
— Lindsay Dianne from Running Scared

5. Network, network, network! Seminars can provide valuable ideas, events and goodie bags are fun, but the relationships forged via positive networking are powerful and offer long-lasting benefits. A drive-by card drop is okay, but connecting on a personal level with meaningful conversations can lead to wonderful friendships and create amazing synergy.
— Barb Webb from Rural Mom

6. After 10 years as a blogger and an attendee at numerous conferences, my biggest piece of advice for Mom Bloggers is to HAVE CONFIDENCE.

I see so many women attend conferences and end up shrinking into the background like wallflowers at a 7th grade dance. They think they have nothing to offer, that no one would want to talk to or connect with them, or even sit with them at lunch. And so they spend breaks in the bathroom or in their hotel room checking email, instead of taking the opportunity to seek out others.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that each of us has value and is an expert in some field. Sure, you may not know the first thing about SEO, but you have great relationships with brands or you’re able to think up authentic ways to engage your readers. The person next to you, despite her “”I’ve-got-it-all-together”” demeanor, may need the exact skills and expertise you offer.

So before you write yourself off as a nobody and waste your chance to connect with and help others, remind yourself of your value. Before you leave for the event, sit down and scratch out a list of your experience and skills, whether it’s the ability to write fresh content five times a week, or to take stunning photographs for your blog. Then go into the event looking for someone who needs what YOU have to offer.

Of course, it’s good to make a list of questions or topics you’d like more information about, too, but if you focus on helping others, I guarantee you’ll find your own answers, almost as a byproduct of the connections you make through reaching out.

You’re valuable. Don’t ever doubt that. Now go help someone. ”
— Lain Ehmann from 30 Minute Martha

7. Knowing what you want to get out of a social media conference before you go and having a plan to reach the goal you set is the key to getting the most out of any social media conference. If your goal is to network with other bloggers in general than you won’t want to miss the mingling opportunities. If you want to specifically meet up with a certain person then setting up a time to meet is essential because time will escape you!! If you are there to learn than you won’t want to miss the workshops. You don’t have to have a hard and fast schedule but if you walk into a conference without a plan you definitely will leave wondering where your weekend went. Time is the best thief!!
— Tia Yates from Tia Saving Cents

8. Conferences give you a chance to network in person with those you already know and stregthen those connections plus a chance to meet many more people in the social media community. The conferences also are a fabulous place to learn from the best of the best – make sure you take the time to attend talks and sessions and take notes. Along with learning you become inspired! There is nothing like gathering with a group of other social media people to get you motivated to keep going, try new things, and expand your horizons! PS – and it’s a lot of fun too!
Robyn Wright

9. The key to conferencing is networking. When you are socializing with your colleagues you learn so much as to how they do their business and you get the sense that you are not alone. Also, watching other Mom bloggers interact with brands is important.
— Lee Reyes-Fournier from Couple Dumb

10. By networking. You have to get out of your comfort shell from behind the computer and put yourself out there. If there is someone you admire introduce yourself. Likewise say hello to the person in the corner because chances are they are feeling exactly like you are. Find the meetups on twitter and facebook then meet up. Most importantly have a fantastic time!
— Kasandria Reasoner from Southern Bellas Ways to Save

What advice do you have to share?

ConAgra’s Blogger Campaign Backfires, Bloggers Not Happy

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Have you seen the Pizza Hut hidden camera commercials where it shows the surprise on people’s faces when they are told the pasta they are eating is from Pizza Hut and not some fancy Italian restaurant?

Well, it seemed to work okay for Pizza Hut, but ConAgra tried something very similar with a group of food and mom bloggers in NYC and it didn’t go as planned. In fact, the bloggers aren’t one bit happy about the event.

To make a long story short, several bloggers received this email from the PR company Ketchum who were handling the ConAgra blogger campaign:

We would like to invite you to an exclusive underground restaurant, Sotto Terra, with George Duran and Phil Lempert in New York City – only open from August 23-27, 2011. Please see the attached invitation for details – we hope you join us!

Most of the bloggers knew there would be a catch of some sort, but what they didn’t realize is that the four course meal they were promised was actually the Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna by Marie Callender’s, a frozen line from ConAgra. Hidden cameras were placed around the dinner, meant to capture reactions from the bloggers eating the lasagna, as well as the Razzleberry Pie, also from Marie Callender’s.

Stephanie Moritz, senior director of public relations and social media at ConAgra, told The New York Times the plan was to use these hidden camera reactions as promotional videos for YouTube and their website.

Here are a couple of reactions from the bloggers who attended the event:

From MomConfessionals: “Our entire meal was a SHAM! We were unwilling participants in a bait-and-switch for Marie Callender’s new frozen three cheese lasagna and there were cameras watching our reactions.  I’ve got a sense of humor so I was okay with it and I had been enjoying myself up until that point, but I could tell that the rest of the participants were not.  Everyone feigned weak shock and faked approval of the frozen meal.  My guests were eager to leave all of a sudden and refused to sign the release.  I felt awful!” – read the entire post here.

From Chubby Chinese Girl: “THE CATCH FOR ALL THIS!? Well apparently, our main course and dessert, the lasagna and pie came from “Marie Callender’s” FROZEN BOXED MEALS. All George did was a la Semi-homemade style of stacking the lasagna and sprinkling fresh herb, then putting the pie in individual cups and topping it with vanilla ice cream. At least that explains why it wasn’t the amazing dinner I was expecting. I had a good laugh about it. Took a while to sink in, the whole night seemed like such a long and elaborate set up. I was a bit annoyed and truly disappointed/shocked, that George would be part of this at all. Specially the misleading way he talked about “his” favorite way to make lasagna, the ingredients, sharing with family and friends bla bla bla. Oh, and were were all being filmed! (J and I walked out without signing any waver. So I better not see us in any promo video). George said goodbye to us and hoped we weren’t “upset” about this whole thing.” – Read the rest of the post here.

Moritz told the NYT, “It was never our intention to put any bloggers or their guests in an uncomfortable position and for that we are sorry”.

She also said they offered to refund the bloggers for any expenses such as cab fare and babysitting fees. You can read the rest of this very interesting story here.

Do you think ConAgra and the PR agency crossed a line they shouldn’t have or are the bloggers over-reacting? We would love to hear your thoughts on this story.

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McDonald’s Says Some Mom Bloggers Get More Eyeballs Than City Newspapers

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Have you heard about the new healthier menu for kids McDonald’s is rolling out? They made the announcement on Tuesday and used all the resources they could find to get the word out. Exactly how did they spread the word about downsizing the french fry portions and adding apples to every kids’ meal?

Facebook, Twitter, journalists and….mom bloggers.

Rick Wion, director of social media for McDonald’s, says “Mom bloggers are very networked and very linked-in. They spread information very, very quickly”

He also called them “key influencers” and made the statement that some mom bloggers get more eyeballs than city newspapers.

McDonald’s Canada recently put out a call for mom bloggers to join their All Access Moms campaign. They’ve chosen their three moms who will get a behind-the-scenes look at the golden arches.

Wion’s team plans to take mom bloggers on field trips to McDonald’s corporate headquarters, as well as starting an invitation-only community.

Thoughts?

Image Source: McDonald’s Facebook page

Are Mom Bloggers Worthy of Marketing Dollars and Here to Stay?

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Some predict mom bloggers are here to stay, while others say their demise is coming soon. I was just reading an interesting article on MomCrunch about why mom bloggers aren’t going anywhere.

As mom blogging exploded, the question “are they worthy of marketing dollars?” was raised. Here’s what MomCrunch has to say about that:

Mom bloggers have been leaders in the blogosphere, early adopters and creating change. The birth of new social media platforms has not weakened our blogs and reach. Instead, we have embraced the new platforms and they have increased our value.

In this feature I posted last week, it shows that moms are listening to brands and those companies know it. The report showed “that both mom bloggers and mommy “status updaters” are vital in terms of marketing and outreach programs”.

MomCrunch ends the article by saying for mom bloggers who can’t “succeed within changing trends, then yes, there may be some troubled times”. I agree. For moms who treat blogging as a business, who act professionally, who get out from behind their computers and engage with brands and other bloggers, then yes, I can see them sticking around for a very long time.

Where do you see the future of both mom bloggers and dad bloggers heading?

Moms are 40% More Likely to Follow Brands on Social Media Than Dads

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A new study shows why brands are reaching out to moms, mom bloggers in particular, more than dads. The results show that moms are 40% more likely to follow brands on social media sites than dads. What does that show? That moms are listening to brands and brands know it.

The report is entitled Moms and Media 2011, which focused on moms in general and how they consume media and interact on social media.

Here are a few of their key findings:

  • Moms have come to depend on the Internet for everyday life as their most “essential” medium
  • Moms spend more time online daily than the general population, crossing the 2.5 hour threshold in 2011
  • Moms are highly active on Facebook, with 62% of American mothers having a profile on the popular social networking service
  • Smartphone ownership among Moms has exploded in two years, with 36% reporting smartphone ownership (compared to 31% for the general population)

The report shows that both mom bloggers and mommy “status updaters” are vital in terms of marketing and outreach programs.

Do you think brands will continue to reach out to mom bloggers for marketing and do you see this trend slowing down or speeding up?

Source: Social Media Today

McDonald’s Canada Puts Out a Call for Mom Bloggers

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What do you do when you want to educate consumers about your brand? It seems you call on the mom bloggers. At least that’s what McDonald’s Canada is doing. They want real moms to go behind the golden arches.

It’s called the “All-Access Moms” program, which is a joint partnership between McDonald’s and the television show Cityline.

What’s it all about exactly? McDonald’s Canada has put out a casting call for mom bloggers who want to learn about the chain’s food quality and safe practices. Five moms will be chosen and they’ll blog abut their experience on their own blogs, as well as a microsite devoted to the program.

The June 26th cut-off date for submissions has already been reached and it will be interesting to watch this program unfold.

Karin Campbell, senior manager, external communications for McDonald’s Canada, explained what the goal of the program is. She said, “It’s a response to the questions that we know Canadians have about our brand. This is just a more formal way to answer them and use an important customer for us, which is moms, to answer stakeholder questions.”

McDonald’s has often come under fire from both health and animal rights groups.

So what do you think – is this a smart way to spread the word about your brand, while providing your company with some reputation management? Sound off in the comments!

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