Is Social Media The New Mothers’ Group?

Is Social Media The New Mothers’ Group?

Guest post by Meg Akabas

I recently ventured into the world of Twitter with the encouragement of friends, colleagues, and my kids who convinced me it was an important medium to help link me to people who might benefit from my new iphone app ParentSmart. I was told Twitter is the way to find people who want my parenting expertise.

A few weeks into my Twitter journey, I’ve seen a whole new community of parents and discovered that while one might assume parents, especially those of young children, might be too darn busy for social media, moms and dads alike are thriving online.

As a parenting educator, I wanted to understand why so many parents are gravitating towards social media. I examined the content and found four main areas of attraction for parents on both Facebook and Twitter:

1. Community

Taking care of a newborn or young child can be an isolating endeavor. No longer! Parents need not rely solely on meeting other new parents at the playground or through mothers groups to stay connected. They can immediately tap into a community of parents on Facebook by joining groups, on Twitter by following other parents or parenting experts, and on any one of the thousands of mommy blogs by joining and participating in discussions. Social media provides an accessible forum for discussion with other moms and dads about public policy concerning families. This is the stuff we used to talk about at our weekly mothers group while our babies crawled around on the floor and spit-up on our shoulders.

2. Product Recommendations

When I was popping out babies (four of them), in order to get a full picture of what was available in stores or to compare products, I had to load the stroller/baby carrier/bags/etc. and visit the baby supply or toy store. Now, parents can quickly compare and review all possible infant seat models AND get recommendations from other parents through social media channels. Twitter parties and give-aways abound as a way for marketers to reach an audience eager for products and services that make life easier. On, recommendations are linked to thoughtful reviews and product details fly fast and furious from their twitter feed.

In addition, product recall information hits social media sites quickly, giving new parents piece of mind that they are aware of any safety hazards that arise.

3. Health Information

Linking with other families or professionals who can share tips on almost any health issue saves worry and time.  It’s one thing to look up symptoms in one’s dog-eared copy of Dr. Spock, but quite another to get the benefit of hundreds of other parents first-hand experience with curing a nasty diaper rash. When my son recently ran into trouble trying to take his first un-chewable pill without gagging, a swift online connection with parents who had faced this problem resulted in a perfect solution…feed him the pill in a spoonful of applesauce or pudding; it worked like a charm.

4. Parenting Advice and Inspiration 

Because babies don’t come with a “how to” guide, one is constantly trying to figure things out. When I was a new parent, I read lots of books and relied on guidance from my own parents. Social media provides much easier access to a wealth of parenting advice, and it has completely crumbled the barrier of shame or embarrassment that formerly plagued parents who thought they were the only ones struggling. Sorting through so much advice, much of it conflicting, can be difficult, but mothers and fathers are finding experts or other parents whose strategies ring true for them, and they are developing a trust in those sources.

In addition, life as a parent of a baby can be extremely tiring and often feels tedious. Now, parents are just a smartphone away from ideas for activities, recipes, positive thoughts and humor. Social media enables moms and dads to tap into the larger community, helping them to ”know better,” “do better” and “feel better” in their parenting role, which represents an opportunity for those with products or messages aimed at helping them achieve those goals. This is good news for parents, good news for me — the parenting educator — and excellent news for anyone who wants to reach this eternal market.

I just hope that all this connecting through social media isn’t distracting parents from interacting and being present with their children! (For my thoughts on that issue, click here).


Meg Akabas is a mother of four, a parenting educator, and the founder of Parenting Solutions. Meg specializes in working with parents of children up to age 10 both individually and in workshops. She helps parents tackle non-medical issues such as communication, discipline, learning, sibling rivalry, separation, and sleep problems. Download her ParentSmart app on itunes and follow her on twitter.

A New Year and 6 Ways you can Get Involved in Social Media Week New York

With Social Media Week New York just five weeks away, we wanted to remind you that there is still plenty of time to get involved and play an integral role in the February conference.  Here are six specific ways you can get involved to help kick things off:

1) Host or curate a session

Join past hosts including New York Times, WIRED, MoMA, IDEO, Time Inc., or, alternatively, submit a session idea to anyone of the five content hubs, including Science & Technology at Google, Business, Media & Communications at JWT, People and Society at The Paley Center for Media, Art & Culture at Hearst Corporation and Music, Gaming & Sports at the Red Bull Space.  Events are typically two hours in length and range from traditional panel discussions, interactive workshops, panels, presentations, interviews, debates etc.  To register, simply click on the link below.  Once your session is approved, we add it to the schedule and promote through all of our media channels.

Register your event here.

2) Share your ideas with the world and register to speak

With more than 150 events planned for Social Media Week New York, there are plenty of opportunities for you to share your ideas and connect with our audience of more than 5,000 hyper-social influencers.

Past Social Media Week speakers have included Dennis Crowley, Co-founder & CEO, foursquare; Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, WIREDSir Ken Robinson, Author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything; Chris Hughes, Co-founder of Facebook; Courtney Holt, President, MySpace Music; Dave Stewart,  Musician & Entrepreneur, Eurythmics; Seth Sternberg, CEO, Meebo; Dick Glover, President & CEO, Funny-or-Die; ?uest Love, Band member, The Roots; Alec Ross, Senior Adviser, Innovation in the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and Tye Montague, Former President of JWT.

Register to speak here

3) Sponsor a Content Hub

Across the five Content Hubs, we have a number of compelling ways for brands to connect with our audience of hyper-social influencers.  Hub sponsorship includes branding and signage, event curation, speaking and presenting opportunities, product and/or service integration and a week-long opportunity to engage in conversation with more than 2,000 Hub attendees.  Hub sessions are all live streamed and packaged and distributed online.

For more information and for a full sponsorship prospectus, please email Toby Daniels.

4) Sponsor an event or hub session

This option is ideal if your brand is interested in sponsoring a single session at one of the Hubs, or one of the events taking place elsewhere in the city.  Event sponsorship includes signage, presence at the event, participation in the curation of the content, speaking opportunities.  Select events are live streamed and packaged and distributed online.

For more information and for a full sponsorship prospectus, please email Toby Daniels.

5) Host a party

At night, Social Media Week New York lights up with parties taking place throughout the city.  Kicking things off in style this year, we’re excited to be hosting the opening reception at the New York Public Library, with things drawing to a close at the Closing Party on the Friday night at a soon-to-be-named location.  If your company is interested in hosting something during the week, then we’d love to support you.

Register your party here

6) Join our network of bloggers & provide coverage

Social Media Week is building a growing network of bloggers and journalists who regularly contribute to both the global and local sites. As part of our editorial coverage we provide in-depth analysis and profiles on our partners, sponsors, speakers and other important contributors.  If you are interested in contributing, we’d love to hear from you.

Register to join the editorial team here

Don’t forget, if you want real-time updates, please follow @smwnyc for New York specific information and @socialmediaweek for global updates.  Also, join us over on Facebook, where we host additional content, discussions and attendee polls.