No one would argue that the rules of marketing-to-moms have certainly changed.  Thanks to the development of social media tools and mobile applications, today’s mom consumers expect brands to communicate and connect with them in entirely new ways.  Marketing messages have moved beyond TV screens and banner ads on websites and are seemingly taking on lives of their own with the use of YouTube videos, Facebook pages and even Twitter.  Yes, Twitter.  The latest in the flurry of new online developments, this “micro-blogging” service allows users to send text-based updates (also known as ‘tweets’) to anyone that is interested in reading it.

Everyday millions of people—many of them moms–jump on Twitter to let the world know what they are doing, what they are thinking or what they are watching.  “Tweets” go from the ordinary activities of the day (“Just finished eating a bagel and ready to get the kids to school”) to callouts for assistance (“Recently moved to Chicago.  Does anyone know of a good private school?”) to interesting and often thought-provoking questions (“Just read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers.  What do others think about his ideas behind success?”).  “It’s like a personal IM that goes out to everyone,” says Barbara Jones, founder of the One2One Network and avid Twitter user.  Jones, along with imc2’s Kristi Maynor, Tim Rumpler and Malinda McFarlane, will be part of the Pre-Conference Workshop on women and social media during the 2009 M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference, April 29 & 30, Chicago Cultural Center.

While its social applications are obvious, can Twitter actually help companies effectively connect their brand with today’s mom consumers? Jones thinks it can.   “It’s a combination of things that makes Twitter so appealing to women,” says Jones.  “Twitter gives women the opportunity to ‘pop in and out’ of conversations which really works for their busy multi-tasking lives.  In addition, they can send a message or question out and get almost immediate feedback from whoever happens to be paying attention at the time.”  For brands looking to reach moms, adding Twitter to the marketing plan is like “fishing in a pond full of fish,” says Jones.

Twitter is easy to use and even those new to the online community can quickly catch-up with its lingo and rules (or lack thereof).  Still, brands are learning how to use this new medium as a way to reach out to women and moms, engage in their conversations and ultimately earn (and keep) their business.  “When you ask a room full of brand executives how many are using Twitter only about 5 people will raise their hands,” says Jones.  “This is happening right under their noses—it is a community of influential, proactive consumers.”  While Twitter will never replace all of your current marketing-to-mom tools, it can certainly help solidify your brands positioning with female consumers.  Here a few ways Twitter can help:

Build a Network: Once you have a Twitter account and start sending out messages, you will begin to accumulate followers.  These are the people that are interested in what you have to say.  More than likely, you’ll be interested in hearing what they have to say as well and can begin following them.  Who should you be following?  Search for those experts in your industry who often have wise things to say and are seemingly in-the-know about the latest trends and information (such as Kelley Skoloda and Stacy DeBroff in the marketing-to-mom world—both are on Twitter) and look over the people they are following as well.  You can also do a search for a specific topic such as “eco-friendly moms” to see who might be talking about it.  A quick look over a user’s profile will allow you to see if they are someone you want to follow.  Watch the conversations to see if certain topics keep coming up or a specific brand is continually mentioned.  But, remember that Twitter is not a passive marketing strategy which is one of the reasons women love it.  Following is not enough, you must work towards engaging your follower through asking questions or polls, offering information about sales and giveaways or responding to their “tweets” in a meaningful way.

Tell them About Yourself: “Women love information,” says Jones.  “When it comes to websites they will often gravitate towards the ‘About Us’ page.”  Use your profile as a way to give consumers a snapshot of who you are as a company and/or executive.  In addition, “tweet” about interesting articles you have read that may be of interest to your audience of followers and share your insight and expertise when appropriate.  But, in your quest to become the “go to” person, don’t forget to be honest and transparent.  Moms will see through the sales pitch in an instant.

Build Traffic to Your Site/Blog: Just added new content to your site or updated your blog?  Send a quick “tweet” to let moms know and include the URL which can link them directly back to your site.  Since every ‘tweet’ is 140 characters or less, use services such as Tiny URL (http://www.tiny.cc) or tr.im (http://tr.im) to shorten your URL and track the traffic.

Customer Service: Probably one of the best uses for Twitter is using it as a way to assist your current or even prospective customers.  Using a Twitter-focused service such as TweetGrid (http://www.tweetgrid.com), brands can do a search of their name to see if anyone is talking about them.  “If a woman has had a bad experience with a brand, she is going to talk about it to her Twitter community,” says Jones who suggests sending the customer a quick ‘tweet’ to find out how you can help.  “While they may be freaked out at first, they will really appreciate the response.”  And so will her entire Twitter community.

Monitor the Competition: Just as you can search for your own brand name, you can search for the names of your competitors as well.  In addition to seeing what contests or campaigns may be working (or not working) with moms, you will also find out things such as who may be hiring new sales people or looking to diversify their retail lines.

“The great thing about Twitter is that there really isn’t any set rules,” says Jones.  “Brands can use it the way that works best for them.  Not everyone needs to be on a quest to have thousands of people following them in order to find success.”

Social media is all the buzz at M2W this year—including an M2W® Tweet-Up where brand leaders and marketing-to-women executives will have the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with their Twitter community.  Visit the website for complete details including an agenda and schedule of speakers.

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