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Understand Mom Behavior to Engage Her on Social Media

moms and social mediaI was recently reminded that Mother’s Day is coming up soon.  Upon hearing this, the logical thing to do would be to begin thinking about what to get my own mom as well as my wife, the mother of my children.  But I’m a guy – a digital marketing consultant who specializes in social media kind of guy.  So instead of pondering how to celebrate Mother’s Day with the Moms in my life, I started thinking about Moms and their social media behavior.

Since the 85 million moms in our country had the purchasing power of $2.5 trillion last year, I figure I’m not the only person interested in Mom’s behavior.  I began my search to find out why mothers interact with brands and other people and how social media influences their actions.

First, I sought statistics regarding how moms use social media.  According to a PunchTab study, Scoring Points with Mom – The Secrets for Engaging Moms to Try, Buy and Share:

  • 66% of mothers view social networks as a good source of information about brands
  • 65% learn about products and services through social networking

 I also came across a recent Punchbowl free white paper, The World of Digital Moms: 101 Stats that Brands Need to Know, that indicates:

  • Moms are 20% more likely than the general population to use social media
  • Of the moms who use social media, 47% check these sites multiple times per day
  • 70% of moms have posted about a brand’s product or services on social media
  • Moms are 38% more likely than the average American to become a fan of a brand online

OK – got it – mothers are powerful consumers and brand influencers.  But why do they engage with people and brands on social media?  I started off with the premise that mothers are women, and women behave differently from men.  To discover how these behavioral differences influence decision-making, I had an interesting conversation with Fran Lytle – a behaviorist and brand strategist specializing in gender-specific behavior.  Fran’s company, Brand Champs, helps brands connect with people – especially women and moms – through social media and content marketing. 

I learned several fascinating facts that will enable brands to develop relationships with women and moms through their social media initiatives – including the difference between female and male brain wiring. 

A woman’s brain is structured differently from a man’s brain.  Her brain has more connections between the left and right hemispheres, while most of his brain connections are within each hemisphere.  This explains why women are so good at multi-tasking while men are better at focusing on one task at a time.     

This clarifies why women use social media at a higher incidence than men, 78% vs. 69%, as reported by Pew Research. Women are using social media while multi-tasking during the day.  This behavior is amplified for time-starved mothers. 

The brain-wiring difference is a benefit for brands that market to women and moms.  She’s reading what her connections are posting and listening to their advice instead of taking the time she doesn’t have to find out about your brand.  So, how can you encourage her to share your brand story?  Following are three tips from Fran. 

1.  Tap into Mom’s Highest Personal Value

Because of hereditary influences, sometimes referred to as genetic memory, Mom’s highest personal value is establishing and nurturing relationships.  The job of her ancient ancestors was to work together with other women in the tribe to raise children until they were old enough to procreate.  This required the skills of collaboration (with other women) and nurturing (the children).      

Moms seek connections and opportunities to collaborate while establishing and nurturing relationships.  Demonstrate that you understand this value through the brand stories you share.  A good brand example is Destination Maternity.  Recently on Facebook, the brand posted, "Being a mother means that your heart is no longer yours; it wanders wherever your children do.”  Does Destination Maternity post product and sale information?  Absolutely!  But it also reminds Moms that the brand understands what’s most important to them.

2.  Engage in Conversations

As Fran Lytle points out in her Brand Champs blog post, 3 Social Media Tips to Connect with Moms, “Social media is a conversation.  Moms have conversations to (a) Share information; (b) Develop connections; and (c) Nurture relationships.  To connect with and engage Moms, interact with them on social media.  If your brand is only posting brand-generated content and not relating to Moms’ lives, they’ll tune you out.  Motivate discussions by asking questions, joining conversations and creating opportunities for her to share.  Most importantly, listen!  Because of the way women’s brains are wired, they have a keen sense for identifying insincerity.”   

I asked Fran if she could share an example of a successful social initiative that tapped into mothers’ highest personal value and mothers’ conversational behavior.  She shared a Hasbro program.  Knowing that moms turn to other moms first for product recommendations, Hasbro engaged House Party last year to introduce the newest Nerf SuperSoakers and jumpstart the summer with hands-on block parties.

To drive brand engagement and sales, the brand created an immersive 8-week campaign with co-sponsor, Simply Cheetos.  It activated moms to celebrate the dads in their lives with a fun, memorable SuperSoaker party on Father's Day weekend.  Over 40,000 socially savvy moms vied for 5,500 host slots, ultimately driving millions of authentic earned media impressions as they shared their party photos and love for the brand with their social networks online and off.

3.  Be Empathetic

Moms are motivated by empathy. But keep in mind that empathy is not the same as sympathy. If you haven’t experienced something similar to what another person has gone through, you may be able to sympathize (intellectually understand), but not able to empathize (understand plus feel).  Moms are most likely to relate to a brand story where she sees experiences that she has experienced.  She’ll think, “That mom’s experience is like mine!  If your brand adds value to her life, maybe it’ll add value to mine.”

Listening to what mothers share is the best method for developing empathetic content.  Reach out to your mom social media followers, ask their opinions and respond to what you hear.  Accomplish this by asking them to participate in short surveys.  Increase participation by offering an incentive.  Fran indicates that a random drawing where three moms win a $50 Visa gift card is a motivating incentive for moms to complete a survey.  Seems like a small investment to tap into this powerful market. 

I enjoyed researching Mom behavior and how brands can develop engaging social media content by understanding and embracing the insights.  However, I still haven’t decided what to get Mom for Mother’s Day.  Luckily, I found an Infographic from Insights in Marketing, The 5 Mom Profiles & Gifts Ideas for Each. Check it out for gift suggestions based upon your mother's profile.  

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