Is Something Rotten In The State of Twitter Moms?
At a party at BlogWorld, I spoke to a guy who was trying to help his client (a clothing company) get a foothold in the social media arena. One of the ways he was considering doing this was through hiring TwitterMoms, a site that publicizes itself as “the influential moms network,” to promote his client’s company. Once the guy I was talking to found out I was a mommyblogger, he wanted to know what I thought about Twitter Moms, and whether or not I thought it would be worth an investment.
I told him that I couldn’t really say anything good about it from a blogger’s perspective for reasons that are not unique to Twitter Moms as a network, e.g.:
- they ask a lot for not a lot of payback;
- there are many people doing work but only a few people getting the lion’s share of the reward;
- as a community member, I have not seen it demonstrated that the network gives a ton back to the community.
But I told him that these were not things unique to Twitter Moms, and that I had never personally participated in anything, I couldn’t really speak from my own experience.
I had no metrics on how effective their campaigns were for the advertisers. But even without looking into specifics, I wouldn’t have recommended a program like Twitter Moms to my readers and, given that, I didn’t see how it could possibly behoove a brand to partner with them. My general theory was this: in social media, it has been my observation that you get the most bang for your buck from partnerships where everybody walks away from things with a good feeling. Bloggers like to promote things they feel good about, and if they don’t feel good about a network, they probably won’t feel good about a brand that partners with it.
I don’t know if the guy ended up hiring TwitterMoms or not.
What do bloggers think about Twitter Moms?
Some controversy on the blogger side of Twitter Moms was brought to my attention recently, and honestly, even though I have suspected that I should write something on the Twitter Moms site/program for a while, I’ve hesitated to do so for a few reasons. Twitter Moms promotions or contests (why this nomenclature is controversial is still unclear to me) do not appeal to me, personally, and they are not something that I would recommend to people trying to make it in the business of blogging, but I do not consider my own opinion to be the only one that counts on that front.
That said, after reading more about the Twitter Moms model, I have to say the model is fairly funky for the bloggers participating. I’m not sure I’m willing to say that it’s . . . nefarious, as the linked post seems to suggest, but rather just that it, like many of these kinds of programs, is just a really, really bad deal. For instance:
- You’re working for gift cards with values in the double-digits;
- Which, OK, that’s fine if you’re willing to do that, but the thing is that you are not guaranteed to get a gift card after you do the work;
- Even if you do the work, and you turn it in on time, you might not ever get the gift card because your work isn’t good enough or doesn’t meet the standards of the sponsor, and there’s no way of knowing this ahead of time, because in effect this is a “job” for which you have not really applied or been prescreened;
- In other words, if you’re a great, fast writer, with a healthy network and a decent looking blog, you’re golden here, because you look good to the advertisers and you can probably wrack up a bunch of gift cards really quickly, but what about poor schmoe in the corner, with the crappy spelling and the ugly sidebars? The one with no followers? She‘s not getting any gift cards! But she keeps writing her posts about toilet paper anyway, hoping for one of those $50 Amazon gift cards . . . she unwraps her posts each day from days old wax paper, hoping maybe today will be her day, only to go home again, empty handed and with a heavy heart. What about her? What about her dreams? and
- Right, now I’m back to the fact that we are working for a chance at getting a gift card with a face value in the double digits, and — no judgment — even if you plan to sell them on eBay, I’m just not seeing this as a great long term strategy for business growth.
In this case, I think a “contest” is actually better than what Twitter Mom promotions are for bloggers. I’m not sure we have a word yet for what they really are.
What about advertisers?
From the advertisers’ side, here are the less-than-rave reviews about Twitter Moms as a means of promoting a product. First, in order to promote the power of the TwitterMom network, agents emphasize how many Twitter Moms there are in the network (total) instead of how many are actually likely to participate in any one promotion. For instance, I think I am a Twitter Mom, technically speaking — I joined a few years ago and have never participated in any of the promotions, but if this is correct this means that ad slots are being sold with my membership included in the number of people that are suggested will promote a product. To give you an idea of the disparity in numbers, the Twitter Mom network currently has 28,000 members, and this promotion had 72 participants.
Second, the actual promotion that the advertiser sponsors ends up being a promotion of bloggers’ posts or a Twitter party, rather than a strict promotion of a product that you would get in a regular ad campaign. There’s nothing technically wrong with this, but there are several levels removed from the product and no guarantee that any of the blog posts written on a product will actually get read, much less that they will cover the product in the way that the sponsor desires. And in the case of a Twitter party, things are even more dire: as I’ve written before, people hate Twitter parties, it pisses people off and makes them unfollow, except in rare cases where people have built up a ton of trust capital that they are willing to expend on something. And in the case of Twitter Moms, that is not something that is happening on a regular basis.
Lastly, the price to run a Twitter Mom campaign is high, even by advertising standards. Supposedly a Twitter Mom campaign can cost 10K or more per promotion. Allegedly, the proceeds are then split between agents and Megan Calhoun, the owner of Twitter Moms. Obviously some of that money will need to be spent on buying the gift cards to pay(?) the writers(?)/contest winners(?). In a typical contest that advertises 50 winners of $50 Amazon gift cards, that would suggest that $2500 of that money is being spent on gift card “rewards.” The payoff is huge for Calhoun, particularly in contrast to what the people doing the actual writing are getting. But now that I think about it, there are definitely gigs around the blogosphere that pay far, far less.
As of 2011, TwitterMoms is to be rebranded as SocialMoms due to a trademark violation. You can read about this move here.
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