BlogHer Business Day Two: Social Media Outreach Break-out Session #3

BlogHer Original Post

We Don't Know What to Do with You

The elephant in the room is how marketers are blowing it with women outside the young, white mom demographic. This issue bubbled to the top during BlogHer 07's State of the Momosphere panel. When a couple of MommyBloggers of color voiced their dismay at feeling alternately pandered to and ignored by companies who are currently crawling the blogosphere, a marketer in the room actually uttered the now-famous words that comprise the title of this session.

We have Jory Des Jardins, the moderator of that Momosphere session back to moderate again. And we have one of the bloggers who stood up to be counted back at BlogHer '07 on hand to elaborate on her perception of marketing and advertising in the blogosphere, Stefania Pomponi Butler from CityMama and Kimchi Mamas.

The differences Stefania sees between how she is approached on those two blogs that identifies her ethnicity right in the blog name and one that does part of the story. Kimberly Coleman joins the discussion with her own perspective on what tends to go right, and what opportunities tend to get missed. Finally, Laura Martinez is a journalist, editor and AdAge blogger who specializes in advertising and marketing, with a focus on reaching the Hispanic market. She joins them to talk about how marketers traditionally have carved up the diversity pie.

With the blogosphere being more racially diverse than the Internet as a whole (according to Pew), we'll be asking the same question asked in Friday morning's keynote: Do the old rules apply in the blogosphere?

Jory: Women are the purchasers. We know this. Women online purchase more than women who are not online. Bloggers purchase 30% more online than other women. Blogosphere is the most culturally diverse group online. 60% of bloggers are white. 74% of Internet users are white. 84% of marketers think multicultural marketing is important, but they're not organized to handle multicultural marketers. Why is that?

A: Multicultural marketing is seen as a separate siloed department, not part of the standard department.

Laura: I think it is treated as a separate thing or an afterthought. When there's a crisis, they tend to cut that marketing first. Also there's pressure to have a multicultural force, even though companies don't know what that means. I wish people wouldn't hire people because they're a woman, or because they're Latina. There are a lot of misperceptions about what multicultural is all about.

Jory: Where are the missed opportunities? Where are marketers getting it wrong?

Stefania: With KimchiMamas, it's a huge missed opportunity. Korean families tend to be very family focused, and while our content is very cultural, it's also only talking about family issues.

Jory: Would you rather be singled out because you're Korean?

Stefania: It would be nice to be included, to be on the list, though I don't want to get pitches for just cabbages and chili pepper.

Jory: Kimberly, you're not trying to be an African-American momblogger, but just as a mommyblogger.

Kimberly: African-American is put into the nanny category or the career woman category. Parents of preschoolers have so much more in common with others at that life stage than just other black women. If you would've asked me to identify myself before I had a kid. Christian, then black, then woman. Now, Christian, mother, black, woman. Every other blog post I don't say "oh, I'm Christian." It's who I am. And I'm also black. The parenting aspects of African-Americans aren't focused on by marketing other than clothing. Yes, we dress our kids cute, but we care about other things, too. We like strollers. We like children's programming or educational resources.

Laura: One out of four babies born in this country is going to be Hispanic very soon. I believe most Latino moms aren't as connected as other minorities might be. That's a huge opportunity that is going to grow very soon and marketers should get thinking about that.

Kimberly: Before we talked about this session, I never thought about blacks in social media. I was just trying to raise my kids. A lot of my friends aren't as willing to give out their personal information, so they're a little cautious of social media. There are a huge amount of blogs by people of color, there's a black weblog award, and there's a Blogging While Brown summit coming up. Black bloggers are starting to set up their own social networks like More black performers and entertainers are going to social media, and we think that'll grow.

Stefania: When we started KimchiMamas, there were no other Korean mommy sites. There was a huge response. Some of us are only half Korean. Some had married into Korean families. We like providing a place for these things to happen. I don't know very many Korean-Italians in my day-to-day life, but one Google search will bring them to me.

Laura: An executive who runs a multicultural division of Comcast told me Latinos went from the burro to the jet. Once someone connects, they are 90% more likely to go straight to the broadband. They are watching videos. The Hispanic overindexes on usage of mobile technologies by far. Latino blogs talk a lot about Latino issues, marketing immigration, politics. It hasn't evolved to the point of cooking, art criticism, and movies. There's a huge opportunity there.

Jory: Do marketers fear multicultural bloggers?

Stefania: The average PR flak right out of college is not reading Kimchi Mamas.

Kimberly: I wouldn't say fear, I'd say there's a lack of awareness as to whether or not this fits in the marketing mix. At the end of the day, it's business.

Jory: How do you multiculturalize your blog?

Kimberly: I focus on a niche: urban parents of preschoolers. I decided to stay home, and I wanted to expand my relationshiop with moms. I don't feel like I have to say "I'm black" to be a black blogger. If you look at my blog, you see my little black kids. Just because I focus on my kids doesn't mean I put aside my blackness. And I get pitched daily.

Q: I think people want to be sure they have all their bases covered before they delve into multicultural issues (PR person).

Laura: There was an ad about Mexicans and vodka that pushed the envelope. In the U.S., there was a lot of dissent from nonHispanic Americans. It ended up in crisis communication.

Jory: You said you are an inconvenient Mexican. What do you mean by that?

Laura: I got a call from a big focus group company wanting to talk to Mexican women living in New York. I needed the money, so I was perfect. Every single question was a stereotype, and I failed every single question, and the woman said you're not the Mexican we're looking for. I blogged it, and marketers agreed that focus groups are probably not the way to go with the Latina or Asian or African-American markets. Don't pigeon-hole us.

Jory: What are these overlooked nuanced verticals?

Laura: Language is one in my community. English-only Hispanics tend to be younger, more educated and more acculturated. I do a blog in Spanish that targets Latina moms who speak only Spanish. The response has been really poor. I don't know why.

Q: March of Dimes has a Spanish blog that is quite popular. How do things look different in English?

(everyone agreed no different)

Jory: Do campaigns fail because they are done for the mainstream then just put in another language?

Laura: It's not enough to get a Latina mom to talk about the effort and say it in Spanish. In Latin America, we're not used to efforts like that. I would've appreciated it more to have it explained better rather than just saying it in Spanish.

Stefania: I actually didn't get a pitch that was targeted toward DIVERSITY! MINORITIES! Are you sitting up and taking notice now? What are you trying to do to reach out?

Kimberly: Lifestyle and class -- there are a lot of affluent African-Americans and middle class African-Americans. There are a lot more African-American SAHMs and those who are working part-time. These categories are not being addressed by marketing.

Laura: People in Espanol is the Spanish-language version of People magazine. They have a yearly 50 most beautiful Latinas. They've been doing this for a few years. This year for the first time, they asked Latinas on the Internet to pick the 51st most beautiful Latina. There were a few requirements. They put up a social media site asking people to pick. In a week they had 8k submissions and it became too big to handle. People had 5k or 6k votes in one day. They thought of it on the Spanish side because they know young Latinos are really into the social networking sites.

Laura: Who are the advertisers on your sites?

Kimberly: I don't accept advertising, but I do have sponsors. I do giveaways and we have events. I know my blog members every few months, because we have events. Method is one of the sponsors, Cranium. I say, can I have this, and in exchange I'll give you this. I can do it because I have a great demographic.

Stefania: KimchiMamas was one of the first sites that was in the BlogHer ad network. We're out there. We're visible. No pitches.

Laura: People tend to talk about budgets - do I put my multicultural dollars into online or multicultural, etc.?

Kimberly: People really give to us out of their marketing budgets. Companies contact me for sponsorships, but once I work with a company that has an agency, then the agency person gets to know me and they get in contact with me. Sometimes I reach out to them.

Jory: Is reaching out to them a necessary key to building the relationship?

Kimberly: I'm an information junkie, so if I see something I think my moms would like, I reach out to them. A lot of it is about who you know and who knows that person -- if you do well with one person, then the word spreads in that niche.

Jory: Are you providing information for marketers?

Kimberly: If I see something and I like it and I think the moms in my group would like it, I send them an e-mail, I explain who I am and I tell them that we do giveaways and events. In exchange, I'll give you recognition on my site and in my newsletters. I feel comfortable doing that because I use quotes when I'm saying their copy and my own words when I'm doing my own review.

Stefania: We haven't really reached out. On the way here, I was thinking that it's not that I want to receive 30 pitches a day. Our focus is very community-oriented. We don't really ask.

Jory: Is there anything you're really resistent to?

Kimberly: If I think a NY parent of a preschooler would like it, then I'll review it. I'm not going to waste people'e time.

Stefania: I can't think of anything I would reject. We're part of the ad network, and so far, so good.

Laura: I don't want advertisers. I think I have bashed every single company out there.

Jory: Do you think the Latina market is open to advertising in your respective communities?

Kimberly: My moms like that they get stuff. The problem is if you're being deceitful about it and try to throw in someone's name without acknowledging that you got something for it.

Stefania: Asians in the media are just starting to become visible. Where are the Asian Huxtables? We may not as a culture be pushing hard enough for visibility, and that may translate over into advertisers.

Laura: Very small companies advertise in Latino blogs. It's very small at this stage.

Q: Does it help minority bloggers to be part of an ad network?

Stefania: We were one of the first blogs to join that network. It doesn't actually help to get other pitches.

Elisa: Politicians tend to show "workers" which could be mixed-gender, and every other woman that they showed was a mom. It always bugged me, a career woman and childless by choice. Why is it powerful to see a reflection of yourself?

Kimberly: Everyone needs to feel validated.  I'm a black SAHM.  I'm usually one of the only ones at any of the kid activities that I go to.  We just need to figure out how to live in that space and bring others along.

Stefania:  By doing what we're doing, we're trying to change that a little.

Jory:  How do you define success for your blogs?

Stefania: For KimchiMamas, every time someone says they finally have a place to talk about what it's like to be part of a Korean family, that's success.




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