Monday, May 11, 2009

Marketing to Moms, the Nielsen Power 50 Moms

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Last week Nielsen released a list of Power 50 Moms, highly influential women of the blogosphere. The first clue that I'm not on it is that it came out last week and I'm first blogging it days later. Heck, the newspapers might even be covering the story by now.

Lists like this always make me antsy. Every now and again I appear on one. I was on Alltop from the beginning, I'm listed on the Parent Power Index; I get around for what it's worth. But I'm not sure it's worth much.

On the other hand, when I don't appear on The List. It stirs up competitive feelings that ultimately don't serve me well. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for competition. You can count me among those who fear we are raising a nation of wimps. I mean, what's the point of awarding shiny soccer trophies to kids who merely managed to show up to a few practices and a game or two? What kind of message does that send?

Competition is good. Competition causes us to try harder, work smarter and push our limits. Competition brings out the best.

But when it comes to the blogging, I'll sit by the sidelines and try to stay in the game for the long term by doing what feels right to me rather than burn out going for the big win. For example, I know daily posting would serve this blog well in terms of building traffic and community, but three or so times a week fits in best with my other projects and responsibilities. And it's sustainable.

And though I do believe competition helps bring out the the best, in all honesty, it makes me crazy when I see mediocre writers who get more time in the spotlight when they deserve because they know a lot of SEO tricks or market themselves incessantly while fabulous writers are dismissed as "lacking influence."

Apparently, your chances of being named a Power 50 Mom influencer are increased if you are white, straight and married. (Though I am all of the above and where did it get me?)

I'm going off on a tangent here, but it would be interesting to see demographic information on the top 50 Power Moms to learn how similar (or different) they are in terms of age, ethnicity, education, household income, marital and socioeconomic status. I'm not going to undertake such a study myself, but I'd read it if it's out there.

My bigger point is that the momosphere is huge and rather than revolving around one bright light, as our solar system does, or even a dozen (or 50) bright lights, there are many communities, many pockets of influence that don't get recognized by ranking lists.

I realize from the brand or sponsor end, numbers are the bright lights. Numbers are an important measure of influence, but I think there's much more to influence than numbers. I've had this discussion before and in fact, there many insightful comments on my post, Mommybloggers, show us your stats!

Who is an influencer?

I mentioned that during my recent office cleaning, a lot of old materials recaptured my interest. When I opened a dusty file folder to a copy of Chapter 11 of Stephen Covey's book, Principle-Centered Leadership, it caught my eye. The chapter title: Thirty Methods of Influence.

Covey asks who how people can powerfully and ethically influence the lives of others. Some of the buzzwords of social media pop into my mind when I read this: transparency, disclosure! but Covey goes beyond that. Well, maybe not beyond. The book was written in 1990 so SM isn't addressed, of course.

Still, if you seek to build your influence online or IRL, Covey has useful advice:

Refrain from saying the unkind thing- avoid impulsiveness, step back and gain perspective before speaking out, use self-control. (Note to self: watch those reactionary Walmart posts.)

Perform anonymous service. (But how will my readers and tweeps know how generous and giving I am if I don't tell them?)

Promises are a measure of faith in ourselves and an expression of our integrity. If you keep promises you make to others, it forces you to be selective about the promises you make. (That reminds me of a few reviews I've got sitting in the queue....)

Give one-on-one time to people. (My husband? Kids? But I. Can't. Stop. Tweeting.)

Focus on the circle of influence- make positive change where you know you have an impact and it will grow from there. (At least I got this one right.)

Allow yourself to be influenced by others. (I'm good here, too. I have a range of fabulous blog friends from whom I seek advice on products, ideas, business, parenting and relationships.)

Covey listed nearly 25 more reflection points, but it's clear I'm only reaching about 1/3 of my potential influence. No wonder I'm not on the list. Or maybe there's a Top 50 Slacker Mom Guide out there with my name on it.

Summary of the Power 50 Moms list with links at Keeper of the Cheerios.
Power 50 Mom Jessica Smith basks in the glow and shares the name a of few Power 50-worthy women who weren't on what is being called the first draft of the list.

More of my musings on marketing to moms.


Musings of a Housewife said...

I agree, these lists are only worth so much. I was beyond thrilled to be included b/c I haven't been included on many lists. But I also know that unnerving feeling when I see a list that I'm not on. I don't want to feel competitive about my blog. I want to write and build a community of loyal and active readers. The rest is icing on the cake. Every once in a while I have to regroup and remind myself why I'm here and what my true goals are.

AKAmamma said...

I feel the same way. If I were to post more than three times a week, I wouldn't be very effective at anything else.

If it's any concession I think you should be in the top 50 for a thoughtful post, no spelling mistakes and not trying to sell anything. That's what drives me crazy about mombloggers.

Leighann said...

Great thoughts, Kim.

Lately there have been a ton of mom blogger trips and some of the same women are invited again and again. I have to wonder if PR people aren't looking to the same list of 11.

Quite frankly I think companies need to search a little wider. I mean how many times do we want to read on the same person's blog that she went on yet another corporate sponsored trip this week? (Though I certainly would not complain to get an invite here and there from a company I support.)

The message gets a little diluted when the same person will peddle EVERYONE's wares.

There are lots of us women who are educated, good writers, and conscious consumers who would be good picks for any company to woo.

I definitely send congratulations to the women named to the Nielsen Power 50 Moms list. What a great accomplishment! I read many of those blogs regularly and value their opinions and writing.

However I fear that it will narrow the opportunities rather than open them up for the rest of us.

It would be great if subsequent lists showcase different women, including diversity in family type, income level, ethnicity, etc. like you mention.

(And your "reactionary" posts should not be self-censored. It's good to hear honest opinions that sometimes toe the line.)

PunditMom said...

I share so many of your feelings. I am so happy for those on the list, but as I sit at my computer and try to write things to help make change, I do wonder, "How come I wasn't included?" I know, I know -- it's that old high school thing rearing it's ugly head. But I do have to believe that there are more measures to being "influencers" than metrics.

Or am I wrong?

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I am on that list and have been wanting to ask how those lists are even compiled. This one seemed pretty random to me. I definitely don't have the stats, technorati rating, or twitter influence to feel I deserve to be listed, to be honest. I have to wonder if this wasn't a group compiled of someone's current blog reading list or people they've worked with in the past kind of thing. Not that I want to appear ungrateful in any way. I was just wondering about those things when I saw it.


Naomi said...

Ditto on what everyone else is saying. In a lot of ways, it feels like high school again with "most popular" polls being replaced by "most influential." There are many blogs on the list that I read and respect but there are a handful that I have never come across and probably wouldn't look at again. I do wonder how they are selected, it seems arbitrary.

And I think the reason we weren't selected is the Jew thing.


Jessica Gottlieb said...

I have to say, that it seems to me that you are unhappy to not be on the list and therefore going to bash it.

It's Nielsen. It matters and I'm not going to try and pretend it doesn't.

You write for The SV Moms, they are on the list, therefore you are on the list.

I think this post is the first (and only) one where you've portrayed yourself in an unflattering light.

I, on the other hand, consistently paint myself in an unflattering light.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Jessica, I not only write for SVMoms via the Chicago Moms Blog, but back in the day (which is about a year ago)I was one of's Momformation most prolific probloggers, which was also named as a "power community." So yeah, maybe I rock it, just not on this here blog.

But sour grapes were not intended. If I was on the list, I'd doubt it's reliability even more. ;-)

I think you a voice that PR folks should tune into, but am I going to shop at Sears because you wrote sponsored review of your shopping experience there? No.

However if, say, Meagan Francis told me there was a reason to go to Sears, that would get me thinking and perhaps even moving and buying. She's among the most influential momblogger in my world.

Also, I've read a lot of your writing and I think you are talented and smart. As are MANY of the moms on the list.

Shoot, my mom just called and I have to go train her on the Kindle2 we bought her for her birthday. More later.

Dani L said...

My guess (being very new to the whole blogging/on line thing) is that most people (women in particular) listen to recommendations from people they have developed a relationship with - same as in "person to person" life.

For me - I might check out the information on a blog that I find interesting, but also would not necessarily take recommendations seriously unless it was someone I know and trust.

I am old fashioned that way.

Doesn't mean I don't like reading the blogs though!!

Boston Mamas said...

I was included on the Nielsen list, which was nice of course, but I always take lists like this with a grain of salt. With so much wonderful talent out there, it's impossible NOT to miss major swaths of awesomeness when something like this is created.

I think above all, if you continue to write well, be passionate about what you're doing, and feel like you have a connection with your readers, you are being powerfully engaging.


Mom101 said...

I am white and not married if that helps?

You talk about "going for the big win" but frankly, that's impossible when no one knows what constitutes a win. Agree with Christine and Steph that this seems to be a very arbitrary list. I think it would behoove Nielsen to release the metrics since I think "we followed 10,000 blogs" doesn't really seem to be specific enough.

There are some arguably influential, highly trafficked bloggers that didn't make the list - no Amalah? No Maggie Mason? No Her Bad Mother? That's pretty hard to figure out.

And just my humble opinion, but I didn't think this read like sour grapes in the least. @Jessica, you don't have to defend the list just because you're on it. While I'm appreciative of the mention, I think it's okay for us to look at these things critically and thoughtfully, with the greater goal of strengthening the community.

Meagan Francis said...

Kim, I am totally blushing from your comment! And honestly, your opinion means a lot more than a random ranking would have. And, for the record, though Sears has sent me nary a free appliance, I do dig their selection.

The word "influencer" confuses me a little. It's like being an "expert". If you call yourself something like that it seems to make it less valid, somehow. It becomes even more convoluted in the blog world because blogs are a written medium and obviously, not all popular bloggers are great writers. Is there some real-world analogy? Maybe the mom at PTA who isn't a great public speaker but could totally sell you on her favorite brand of soap through her enthusiasm and credibility?

...the difference being, of course, that there's a very small chance the PTA mom is being paid to influence you to buy said soap. That's where I think all this starts to fall apart for me. It's not that I don't think women deserve to be successful and make lots of money...I do, absolutely. As long as they have something to offer BEYOND "influence". I feel like there are a handful of bloggers who sell themselves based on what great salespeople they are. It's like double dipping. The product they're selling is the selling of the product. Wait, I just confused myself.

stacey @ tree, root, and twig said...

Great post and great discussion. This is a topic that has drawn a lot of reaction (and criticism), and it has me sort of wondering "What's the point, anyway?" (of the list, I mean) It also interests me that media *outside* of blogging (Wall Street Journal w/ product bloggers, Nielsen with influential bloggers) is able to just walk up and poke our bee's nest of a blogging world, get us buzzing, and then walk away. I'd love to see us all keep from reacting (or imploding, on the more heated topics) and just try to take better care of our own community.

Michele@Integrated Mother said...

It is always flattering to be included in a "top" list, whether it's a widely recognized brand like Nielsen or a grassroots-type list that sprouts up around the Web. And like you, when I see the lists my immediate response is one of competition as I wonder, What made these folks better than me?

Then I have to get grounded and remember that the measure of my success isn't derived from being on a list. I have very specific goals in mind when I blog or write (none of which include being named on any lists, but if you want to add me to one, I'll gratefully accept the honor). If I happen to land on a list then I'm appreciative of the recognition since often my hard work (and what I like to think of as quality articles) go largely unnoticed. But again...I'm a mom, so in some ways I'm used to that treatment...heh. :)

So, a hearty congratulations to the women who made Nielsen's list. Although I had a fleeting moment of competition peppered with envy, I'm over it now and am just glad to know some of you personally.

Mom101 said...

Meagan Francis for President!!

(Well, in '16. I'm good with Obama for now.)

Kristina said...

Kim, please do not back down from your thoughtful takes on the mom blogging community-marketing to moms-lists-whatever ... even if you think you may upset folks. Issues need to be raised and discussed and we're all adults here. I did NOT think you came across as sour grapes, just honest.

I think your points re the Nielson Power list are valid, and I say that as a mom blogger who does not (YET) have a personal blog but is a longtime, prolific writer for BabyCenter (which was named by Nielson).

I agree with Leighann, tho, that if the same bloggers are always raving about a product, and posting about their free trips and swag, then their message is diluted.

If I were making a list, you'd surely be on it, for what it's worth (which is not much :) ).

Leighann said...

Okay, I'm back for more...

I would include Kim on any list of thoughtful and thought-provoking mom bloggers (or even better, just "bloggers" in general).

Not only does she tell it like it is and gives us informed posts, I always find myself coming back to read the comments. How many blogs can you say that about? Sometimes the discussion is very lively and the women who come here to comment are also very insightful.

Kim is definitely not just a content producer, rather she engages her readers and opens discussions on many key topics.

Jodi said...

Kim - you were on my list of those who were left off - not that anyone is asking my opinion :)

As always, you bring up great points, and create the kinds of conversations we should be having.

@Leighann - you bring up some great points also.

Kim Moldofsky said...

@Jodi and @leighann Thanks. I'm blushing.
J But again, I don't mean to come across as complaining that I'm not on it. I would have been blown away and frankly, suspicious (though honored) if I was.

I'm delighted that people feel they can come here and share opinions/weigh in on issues that are important to our community. This means a lot to me.