A Two-Way Dialogue Can Lead to New Insights

Babycenter's Tina Sharkey Explains How She Discovered Two Social Mom Groups Bigger Than Mommy Bloggers

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Tina Sharkey
Tina Sharkey
With the insane amount of data out there, it's tempting to skip the human element altogether and rely solely on statistics. But performance metrics alone can't tell you what motivates your audience to start a blog, share a video or post about their breakfast on Facebook. And it can't tell you the exact point when first-time moms realize their new little bundle of joy means a 54% increase in laundry, leaving them running to the appliance store. These are the types of insights that result from a consistent two-way dialogue with an audience over a long period of time.

True, actionable insights allow you to do three things: 1. understand the hearts and minds of your consumers; 2. pinpoint the key inflection points when they're talking about your brand; and 3. activate them to amplify your message by appealing to what motivates them to share.

When you can get to this level of specificity, you're certain to learn a few new details about your audience that could completely change the way you communicate with them.

While pulling together our "21st Century Mom Report" last year, we learned that in the past three years, the number of moms who use social media regularly has increased by nearly 600%. That's a fantastic data point. But, to get to the real insight, we needed to dig deeper and ask why. What are these moms doing? Why are they sharing? How are they different from each other? And then, what does it all mean for our users, our clients, and our business?

To get these answers, we conducted a segmentation study and learned that moms who use social media regularly don't all use it in the same way, nor do they wield the same amount of influence. We found that 18% of social moms account for 78% of the influence. The 80/20 rule never fails!

But for BabyCenter and many of our clients, the biggest a-ha is that mom bloggers, whom we know are powerful influencers, aren't the only fish in the sea. Our study uncovered two larger segments of social moms who are also very active and influential, namely "field experts" and "lifecasters." This discovery opens up a host of opportunities for our clients to explore.

Field experts are young but experienced stay-at-home moms who use social media to share advice, usually focused on a specific area or challenge of parenting (i.e. raising twins, breastfeeding or caring for a special-needs child). Because of their specialized knowledge, large networks of moms depend on them for expertise, support and in-depth product reviews. Marketers with relevant products or services should take advantage of field experts' expertise by providing them information and products to encourage conversation within their networks.

Lifecasters are millennial moms who are always connected and communicating. They share everything via social media, mixing play-by-play updates with useful tips about where to find the best stroller or perfect pair of black pants on sale. Although they produce tons of seemingly lighter content, their extensive networks depend on them for relevant advice and product recommendations on a wide variety of topics. To engage them, marketers should use social tactics such as voting or creating product wishlists to generate buzz and brand mentions.

Whether you're reaching moms, dog lovers or baseball fans, the idea is still the same: Digging deeper into your data to find out what really makes your audience tick enables you to communicate in a specific and personal way that will activate them to spread the love for your brand. Understanding these nuances will help you move from data to insight -- and insight to action.

Tina Sharkey is the chairman of BabyCenter.
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