Hell Hath No Fury Like a Mom with a Blog

Max GladwellEleven ways that moms are leveraging social media to pursue the mom agenda.

It’s a self-evident truth that moms know best. Until recently, though, this knowledge was largely confined to the family unit. With the spread of social media such as blogs and social networks, the walls of motherly wisdom are coming down. Concurrently, the sphere of motherly influence is expanding, most notably to board rooms and chambers of congress. This isn’t to say that moms don’t already wield influence in these areas. Speaker Pelosi is, indeed, a grandmother. But of all the demographic groups gaining power through the social web, from techies and teens to musicians and green activists, we’d argue that none is more formidable than moms. Marketers, politicians, and CEOs take note: networked moms have become a force to be reckoned with, and they continue to gain strength.

Anyone who’s ever feared or respected their mothers (that means you) knows what we’re talking about. Indeed, when you step back and consider the makings of this phenomenon, it’s nothing short of awe inspiring. The technology of social media has extended the power and reach of the individual to a point where it’s possible for anyone to spark a groundswell of action and impact, fueled by network effects and viral distribution. It is the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings and causes a hurricane on the other side of the planet. Only this butterfly is highly motivated with a tremendous vested interest in the health and wellbeing of the next generation. And they number in the tens of millions in the U.S. alone.

For the past several decades, Oprah has been the voice for so many American moms. From the serious to the mundane, she covers issues that matter to women and holds tremendous sway with her viewers. We’ve seen firsthand how companies are nearly capsized with demand when their product becomes one of Oprah’s favorite things. But this is a waning, one-way channel. It’s Media 1.0, where companies produce the infotainment and we consume it. By and large, if it wasn’t important to Oprah, it wasn’t important to her audience. Media 2.0, on the other hand, is about creation and participation. According to MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, some 40% of moms in the U.S. are already on MySpace, “using the site for the same reason everyone else is: to socialize.” Social media is about initiating and joining two-way conversations that matter to the individual and finding others for whom the same topics or issues matter. What matters most to moms? Their children, of course.

AllergyKids.comThat’s what set Robyn O’Brien of AllergyKids.com on her current mission. O’Brien is a mother of four, and her kids have serious food allergies. This was puzzling for her because neither she nor her husband has them. She did some research and unearthed startling evidence that pointed to neglect and outright conspiracy on the parts of the U.S. government and food industry with regard to “the recent introduction and engineering of allergens, proteins, food additives and dyes into our food supply.”

O’Brien promptly launched AllergyKids.com on Mother’s Day 2006, complete with a blog. Her mission: to help parents protect their children from food allergies. Since then, it’s become much more than that. With a bit of media savvy and some luck, O’Brien caught the attention of Robert Kennedy Jr. and made an appearance on his Ring of Fire radio show. By way of Prince Charles, who is a critic of GM (genetically modified) foods, this lead to a feature story in The New York Times, which lead to coverage by CNN, CBS, and a book deal with Random House. She is being described as the Erin Brockovich of food and is even collaborating with Ms. Brockovich herself whose brother, O’Brien says, died of a food-allergic reaction in his 30s.

O’Brien’s fight places multinational agri-business giants like Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland squarely in her sights, alongside their alleged government co-conspirators, the EPA and USDA. Fortunately, she’s not alone. The social web is a support system for moms on a mission as well as a resource for those who want to contribute to a cause or get some advice. Following are 10 more blogs and tools that are part of the nexus of social media, green living…and motherhood.

Blog Her1. BlogHer: This is an aggregated network of women bloggers, most of whom also have their own blogs. In April, comScore calculated 104,000 unique visitors to the main site. BlogHer also manages an ad network with more than 1,400 related blogs. “BlogHer’s mission is to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community and economic empowerment.” There is a “Mommy and Family” section of the site as well as an extensive mom blogroll. It is an excellent general resource, but it also serves to connect readers with the blogs that speak to their specific interests.

Eco Childs Play2. Eco Child’s Play: ECP is part of the Green Options blog network, of which this blog is also a part. The focus is on “green parenting for healthy, non-toxic homes.” It was founded by Jennifer Lance, who lives with her family “on 160 acres off the grid (for 15 years!) in a home built with [her] own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) and trees from [her] land.” Started as a resource for healthy toys, it’s expanded to include a full range of green-living family topics. With a broad stable of contributors, there is something to be found for all shades of green mom, including the activist.

Cafe Mom3. CafeMom: This is essentially MomSpace, a fully-featured social network with two million unique visitors in the month of April according to comScore and growing fast. “CafeMom is focused on creating a great site for moms that is somewhere they can come to get advice, feel supported, make friends or just relax.” There is a group called Green Organic Natural Simple Living with more than 1,200 members and many smaller groups organized around healthy-green topics. If you already use MySpace or Facebook, there’s no reason not to also have profiles in purpose-driven networks like this.

Sparkplugging4. Twitter Moms: Though Sparkplugging.com is not a mom-specific blog, it is co-written by Wendy Piersall, who is both a mom and a Twitter fanatic. Her Twitter handle is eMom, and she’s compiled a growing list of Twittering moms. If you comment on her post or send a Tweet, she’ll add you to the list (assuming you’re a mom). As a resource, Twitter can provide immediate advice as well as a way to vent and celebrate the trials of motherhood.

Green and Clean Mom5. Green & Clean Mom: This is how “being green can be sassy, sexy, & fun.” Despite its playful page design, G&CM is serious about the subject matter, featuring a photo of the author’s kids, citing them as “the reason I’m on a mission.” But it’s far from fanatical. Posts on climate change, toxic car seats, and an SUV confessional are currently on the front page. You can also join the G&CM social network, which is hosted on the Ning platform, and follow G&CM on Twitter.

TeensyGreen6. TeensyGreen: We found TeensyGreen through Twitter. Like many, it grew from an epiphany of sorts. Says founder Stefani, “I couldn’t help feel like there was another way to be able to entertain my kids without all the plastic, the fuzzy, the things they played with for a little while and ended up at the bottom of a basket.” The blog’s focus, then, is highly product driven, and the tone is very much “do what you can” as opposed to “do or die”.

Suburban Bliss7. Suburban Bliss: This is the cheeky mom’s blog, penned by the very talented Melissa Summers, who is both a blogger and a writer. SB is not green or socially aware but rather a healthy dose of unfiltered reality…as you can gather from the pacifier-in-a-martini-glass logo and tongue-in-cheek title. Summers was made famous (or infamous) for stating that it’s OK to have a glass of wine during a playdate. According to her bio, she “loves her kids, because they are clearly quite loveable. She doesn’t necessarily love parenting. Oh and the amount of talking it requires. And the public humiliation. Also, the guilt. But otherwise? Suburban Bliss.”

Moms Speak Up8. Moms Speak Up: This is a forum for maternal activism, a “collaborative blog of writers from various backgrounds… about the environment, dangerous imports, health care, food safety, media and marketing, education, politics and many other hot topics of concern.” The founders are “fed up with the ‘business as usual’ attitude of politicians & greedy corporations.” It is open to contributions and places green living squarely at the center of its mission.

MOMocrats9. MOMocrats: These moms are “raising the next generation of blue” while trying to put a Democrat back in the White House in 2009. One might find it surprising to know that John Edwards was their original pick for the nominee. So being a mom doesn’t automatically get you a pass. As of this writing, they are split. No matter who gets it, he or she will be wise to check in with MOMocrats from time to time to see what’s on their mind.

Healthy Child, Healthy World10. Healthy Child, Healthy World: This nonprofit organization, once known as the Children’s Health and Environmental Coalition, is “dedicated to protecting the health and well being of children from harmful environmental exposures.” It is also supported by some of the most outspoken celebrity moms including Laura Dern, Gwenyth Paltrow, Olivia Newton-John, Amy Brenneman, and Meryl Streep. The Healthy Child, Healthy World book was released last month and features Robyn O’Brien’s story from AllergyKids.com.

Bonus: Here are five more worth exploring.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess

Green Mom Finds

Mothers Click

Mom Junction

Maya’s Mom

To continue this conversation, please leave comments with your thoughts. If you’re a mom blogger or social networker, let us know and leave a link to your site or profile. Let us know how you’re using social media to further the mom agenda or just to meet other likeminded moms.

  1. Wendy Piersall

    Great list, Max – thanks for mentioning Sparkplugging! That Twittering Moms list went crazy out of control for a while there – who knew there were so many moms on Twitter?! 🙂

  2. Missy


    “Hell hath no fury like a WOMAN blogger”. Just a tweak on your title. Looks better to me, now.

    Social media is what newsgroups where like 5 years ago. Except with the advent of web 4.0 tools like Twitter, Pownce, Tumblr, and LinkedIn it has become all about networking, vocalizing, and sharing.

    Probably sharing more than anything else. Most of the new media tools and sites all incorporate a “SHARING” function.

    I love how a good blogger can use her blog, to get VIP messages across to the masses. Sweeeeet!

  3. Max Gladwell

    Missy: I agree! I was trying to get at the particular fury of a mom, who sees the world crumbling around her and what that means for her children. It’s now possible for her to truly have an impact while still being a mom. Time was, a mom would have to dedicate an inordinate amount of time and effort to lobbying or organizing to actually make a difference. With social media they can do it during nap time or on their iPhone (in between taking pictures) while hosting a playdate.

    I’m sure those same motherly instincts apply to non-moms, as well.

    Are we at Web 4.0 already?

  4. Jill Buck, Founder of the Go Green Initiative

    Max…you really nailed it! (:

    My organization, the Go Green Initiative, comes from, and has been promulgated, from the hearts of moms who are anxious to protect their children from environmental harm and ensure a healthy future for them.

    I wrote the Go Green Initiative on my kitchen table in the summer of 2002. Thanks to the Internet, we are now the largest environmental education program in the world, operating in 49 U.S. states, 10 countries, and on 4 continents!!! We did this without a budget, an office…nothing but the support and hard work of moms on a mission! (:

    Thank you for giving moms their props!

  5. Rita Wilhelm

    And keep in mind that moms/women make most buying decisions.

    Women in general are very social. When it comes to a viral message, consider the fact that these moms are the mavens, and the connectors that Malcom Gladwell talks about in his book The Tipping Point.

  6. Stefani Newman

    Thanks so much for including teensygreen in this wonderful article, Max! I do have to say I’ve been focusing on writing about many more social and eco organizations and initiatives, rather than highlighting the flood of green products out there. While of course being green includes trying to be as sustainable as possible with “stuff”, it’s way more important to get moms, dads, and kids involved with issues that affect everyone out there!

    See you on Twitter!

  7. jonbiel@mtdn.com

    Found out about this blog from your Twitter page – aren’t I getting technical! Mom’s are an immensely influential sector and they are imperative to listen to. Thanks for the compilation – we have actually been generating a list and you’ve added to it.

  8. Lisa Frack

    Great plug for all of us! Please be sure to check out Activistas – we’re in Oregon and we’re making some serious headway with a lot of off- and on-blog advocacy. Let’s get that mamagenda into law, folks! Best, Lisa

  9. Izzy

    I’m unbelievably psyched (and honored) to have two of my collaborative blogs (Moms Speak Up and Green Mom Finds) listed here in such fabutastic company.

    I know a lot of the other bloggers mentioned and they really do rock.

    Thank you for putting this together and recognizing the power of the mom!

  10. Liz

    Fantastic list! As a woman – and mom – with a blog you’ve mentioned so many of my favorites.

    Shameless self-promotion alert: I’d love you to check out CoolMomPicks.com which is not a green blog per se, but has been supportive of organic options for parents, sustainability, fair trade items, indie companies and toys that aren’t mass produced from the get-go. In fact our safer toy guide last year (http://coolmompicks.com/safertoy07)
    helped lead the way for parents through the lead paint scare of last Christmas and the retailers we featured could hardly keep our recommendations in stock. Let’s hear it for the power of moms with blogs!

  11. Allyson

    This is a great post. I LOVE the fact that Moms are uniting everywhere. I can actually feel the power!

    Thanks for writing this. The world needs to understand the power of a Mom on a mission!

  12. Christine

    Great article, Max. Good to have some eyes out there recognizing the efforts of the many women who are out there advancing the conversations on green living, politics and society’s perception of mothers.

  13. ilinap

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I am new to blogging and decided to pursue it as a means to vent, connect, and explore. It’s a great way to be a voyeur into other’s parenting styles, social perspectives, and creative energy.

    When my second son was born I went through a difficult time. In retrospect I probably was dealing with depression that was ignored just because basic survival was all we could muster. I felt alone and would have embraced the kind of community that I’ve found in my few months blogging. The people, not just parents, I encounter are witty, sharp, candid, and inspiring.

    I’m also a self-employed marketing consultant so it is fascinating to see how the blogosphere affects purchase decisions and the power of word of mouth. Women make over 80% of buying decisions, so the bloggers are a force to be reckoned with!

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