Internet marketing to women, when done right, makes it easy for them to build communities around passions, and to partner with brands they already use to get paid, says Holly Hamann (@HollyHamann), co-founder of Blogfrog. Online community building is the company’s specialty, with the evidence seen in the 50,000 mom bloggers that now use its platform to reach 6 million women. Marketing to women remains a good idea, as they control 85 percent of household spending, from where the family lives to the cars they drive to the food they eat.
Founded in 2009 by Hamann and Rustin Banks (@rustinb), Blogfrog got its start when Banks’s wife launched a family blog to keep her group updated, but struggled to keep up with her friend’s blogs. Following so many family updates was laborious, and conversations among bloggers in her circle impossible. Blogfrog met those needs, and has become the nation’s largest mom blog network.
Specifically, the company enables bloggers to setup an online community for free, and then to place a widget on their blog that connects it to their newly founded community. With the community built around the blog, readers can ask each other questions, share their own blogs, videos, etc. Otherwise, a blog might have thousands of like-minded readers, but they must go elsewhere to interact. Adding a community has helped blogs build reader loyalty, increase pageviews, and in one case, change lives in African villages.
Hamann sat down recently with “On the Record…Online,” the official podcast of the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in New York to discuss her presentation there, which covered how to “Reach Women Buyers via Female Bloggers.”
2:50 Online communities are becoming more local and more specific, says Holly. Destination sites with millions of members inevitably lose the niche voice. Blogging is restoring that voice to a great many demographic groups nationally and internationally. Blogfrog embodies the trend by offering an “instant community platform” for bloggers designed to make it easy for them to give their niche audience a place to have conversations.
3:14 Facebook will not be “the next Facebook,” but will be replaced by thousands of conversations happening in niche communities united by common platforms, Holly says. Blogfrog started out by looking at which market segments are organically predisposed to community building and moms topped the list. They are the most social, the most community oriented and the most likely to gather around shared interests.
3:42 Social media marketing to moms has been limited to stereotypical approaches that do not recognize varied and passionate interests, says Holly. Even though they are among the most heavily targeted demographic groups by advertisers, moms continue to feel misunderstood and underserved by generic advertising based on broad assumptions. What is really relevant as a foundation for online marketing is what each individual blogger cares about, and finding that out requires an investment.
4:27 Online marketing to a military wife must not look the same as outreach to a cancer survivor or a soccer mom. Whether your interest is food, an eco-friendly lifestyle, a certain career or the care of a child with special needs, Blogfrog makes it easy for a blogger to find readers among likeminded women. Features built into the Blogfrog home page enable visitors to search millions of blogs and related communities by keyword (gluten free, adoption, etc.), activity or popularity. There are now millions of blogs in the database, with thousands more coming in each day.
6:00 Blogging tips for brands took up a good portion of Holly’s presentation at Digital Impact. While Blogfrog is a community building platform for bloggers, it also specializes in helping brands reach audiences that have strong interests closely related to their products. Brands need to know how women bloggers like to get information and be compensated, what brand categories they prefer and how a proposed partnership fits into family life.
7:56 Marketers seeking to target women bloggers should create ecosystems of equal use to bloggers, their readers and brands out to partner with influencers, says Holly. Blogfrog has helped brands like Living Social (@LivingSocial), Kenmore (@KenmoreConnect ) and Hallmark (@hallmarkchannel) find influential bloggers to work with.
9:18 With 6 million women being reached by 50,000 blogs, Blogfrog makes it easy, not only to find and participate in conversations about your interests, but to marshal communities to drive change in real change in the world. Blogfrog seeks to give voice to women influencers online that are trying to find each other as they create influence, awareness or motivation. When you put technology in the hands of women with stories to tell, amazing things happen.
10:06 Community building can, for instance, transform into social media advocacy. One blogger (My Charming Kids by @mckmama) works with Global Hope Network International, a group that searches out US sponsors to adopt the poorest villages in Ethiopia. She blogged live from the villages and had all of them adopted within hours, not the usual months-long period, through her community. The idea is to empower moms blogging from their kitchen counters to drive real change, and not just in the United States.
11:14 Social media listening is the most popular way for people to find Blogfrog. They have an interest, search online for a community and come to the point where they want to interact. If they have been listening to a blog, they want to join the community attached to that blog. If they are blogging, they want to hear from more people with the same interests, so they add an instant community that lives on their blog homepage.
14:12 Social marketing advice from Holly: engage with influencers – those with robust online presences Twitter feeds and frequent blog posts – versus mass approaches. While some brands have it down, many are still trying to figure out to reach out to women bloggers, shifting budget from traditional media to influencer marketing via social networking. When a brand is reaching out to bloggers, marketers need to make it personal. Read their blogs, follow them on Twitter and understand what they hold dear so you don’t end up pitching a candy bar to a diabetic blogger.
15:49 Blogger pitches need to be concise and extremely clear on how much bloggers will be paid, what is required of them (how much time) and what the desired result is, be it Facebook Likes, Tweets, blog posts or upticks in affiliate programs. Bloggers also love campaigns that align closely with their work-life balance.
16:58 Among Blogfrog's more recent offerings to marketers are brand communities and sponsored conversations. In the former, Blogfrog works with a brand to create a community led by bloggers with the most influence in the space surrounding a brand. It serves as a place for building relationships with active members and for gaining exposure via posts, Likes and Tweets, with the venture as a whole promoted by the Blogfrog network. Sponsored conversations unfold as part of a "blog tour" that engages influencers through interactive discussions across the web. As for the future, Blogfrog will continue to serve the 23 million women who either blog or read blogs, but will also in the near future reach out to niche groups beyond moms.
18:24 End Podcast
About the Guest Host
Greg Williams (@gregscience) is a consultant specializing in public relations for medical, science and technical companies. After beginning his career as an editor for the Associated Press, Greg has since served as a public relations strategist for two international public relations firms and two university medical centers, and as a writer for institutions including Eastman Kodak and the National Academy of Sciences.