Posted in Mom~Entum, Research

African-American Mommys Online & in Social Media Finally Getting Their Just Due


Mommy bloggers are all the rage. Right now the attention they’re receiving is a bit negative. In fact, they’re on the short end of the stick when it comes to discussions about the new FTC blogger payola rules. They must seem like easy targets to other bloggers (and even journalists) because of how heavily they’re marketed to. But, let’s be honest, they’ve got more purchasing power than any other consumer group and surely brands are looking for the most effective methods of reaching them. According to the Moms In Business Network, moms account for nearly $1.6 trillion in annual spending, and EMarketer forecasts that by 2012 moms will make up 39.6 million of the online audience.

But not all in marketing is created equal. Or is it?

It is estimated that African-American women control 62% of the buying power of African-American Consumer Market, which equals nearly $790 billion. (See Target Market News and Selig Center for Econmoic Growth at The University of Georgia for actual numbers.) Yet, this demo is not as heavily marketed to.

When you look at (and for) the African-American mommy market online. It would seem that it was almost invisible. But I guess that’s an easy mistake to make if you’re not looking for it or don’t know exactly where to look. They’re out there, Kevin Brockenbrough VP/Associate Director, Account Planning, Burrell Advertising, told me, they’re just not marketed as well.

Just to show you how easily a mistake can be made when it comes to understanding the presence of African-American moms online, I’ll take you on a walk through a recent mistake I made. A couple of weeks ago on what was my first day as SVP, Social Media for the Advertising Research Foundation, BrandWeek called me to talk about Pepsi targeting African-American moms through its Pepsiweinspire network. To be honest, when I first saw the site about a week or two prior, I didn’t even realize it was a network or that its target was specifically African-American moms. Yet one thing I did know, or thought I knew at the time, was that when it came to social networks specifically targeted to African-American moms, there were none. I knew there were African-American mom blogs and groups, but a network, I’d never heard of one and I’ve been covering the African-American space for a long time as both a journalist and historian of sorts. But just as soon as the article went up, I heard from Burrell and some African-American mommy networks too.

“Of the leaders in the digital space for multicultural we take the social networking concept very seriously for women of color deeply,” says Don Moore, President of Burrell Digital. “We very much believe in social media. We believe in the power of women of color and we’re looking for ways to partner with bloggers and social media of quality. We think they’ve been overlooked.”

Though I’ve been a speaker at BlogHer for many years, a member of the Blogger Business Advisory Board, and have assisted with helping them bring new voices to their events, particularly women of color bloggers–the numbers of African-American women in attendance has always paled in comparison to the white women there. Events like BloggingWhileBrown and this weekend’s Blogalicious are doing much to paint a new picture of what the blogosphere looks like.

And as for the African-American mommy networks out there, I apologize for not recognizing you. I now know that there’s the Black Moms Club, with nearly 3,000 members. And there’s also Mocha Moms and Mommy Too!, among others.

Mocha Moms has been around since 1997 and it offers actual support group meetings and events for moms in addition to online information and support. When it comes to working with advertisers, Dee-Dee Jackson, National President, Mocha Moms, Inc. says, “We only want relationships with those that believe in and support our mission and platforms. Our grassroots efforts have already caught the attention of many national media outlets and speakers. We are committed and effective in our community service efforts.”

“Reaching black moms online used to be incredibly difficult,” says Jennifer James, Editor, Mommy Too! Magazine,  “But now since so many of us are bloggers, Pepsi recognized that we’re also a valuable demographic with sizable audiences too, whereas the perception used to be that black moms simply don’t blog. We always have. People just didn’t care to look. I believe a valuable connect between brand and consumer can be met in this case.” (James, as well as Brockenbrough from Burrell, was among the first few folks to contact me about the BrandWeek article.)

James started Mommy Too! in 2003, at a time when she says there were maybe only five sites for black moms. She saw an immediate need to create a site that represented black motherhood positively, disseminated useful info to black moms, and their families, and offered them a means of connecting with one another. “Black mothers face unique challenges such as low birth-weight babies and larger numbers of infant mortality. These issues aren’t addressed in mainstream parenting publications and Web sites so I decided to address these issues head-on,” says James.

Though these communities existed online, and offline in some cases, it took Pepsi to bring this conversation to the fore. “Pepsi, is one of the first brands to specifically target black mom bloggers, so in that respect I believe the “We Inspire” campaign will be well received,” says James.

“But in order for campaigns to really work they have to feel genuine. Mom bloggers, in particular, are constantly inundated with brand messages and therefore our radars are really keen on campaigns that don’t feel authentic or are created simply to generate buzz among us,” adds James. “Once influencers in the mom blogging community deem a campaign authentic and valuable the buzz typically snowballs on blogs and in social media. At that point, advertisers, sponsors, and community can work together seamlessly as long as transparency and disclosure are paramount.”

And as for whether the playing field is equal when it comes to marketing dollars going into the African-American mom community, look no further than this weekend’s Blogalicious event, practically each panel is sponsored by a brand and even BlogHer is there. I see the cloak coming off already.



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