Wednesday, May 16

Segmenting Publics: Can Online Moms Be Segmented?

MWW published an interesting, albeit curious, survey on the behavior of moms online. According to the mid-sized agency, moms can be broken into five types as illustrated by the nifty graphic (which links to the the agency's infographic). The study alludes to the idea that not all moms are created equal.

It's very, very dangerous territory to tread; I even thought twice before sharing it. But then I thought I might offer up why over-segmentation sometimes backfires. Before I do, here are the five types of digital moms they identified:

• Mobilizers. The youngest segment (average age 33) is hyper-connected, driven by the desire to connect with friends, and interested in pop culture. They are easily influenced by celebrities and prefer mobile devices as their primary tool for staying connected.

• Urban Originals. The smallest, most influential segment of digital moms (average age 35) lives in mostly urban areas, view themselves as influencers, and frequently interact on social networks. They also create 90 percent of the content generated by moms and are the biggest influencers.

• Practical Adopters. The working moms segment (average age 45) uses digital technology to harmonize their professional and personal lives and manage their families. They are too busy to be on the cutting edge. They look to urban originals and mobilizers to keep up on trends.

• Casual Connectors. The lowest average income segment (average age 47) uses digital technology to connect with their close circle of family and friends (particularly their children) and are influenced by the preceding groups. They prefer simple technology and few have adopted smart phones.

• Wallflowers. This segment of digital moms (average age 34) prefers to browse and consume content rather than create it. More than half are full-time homemakers, and are visual and entertainment focused. These moms are highly interested in tablets, read what others share, and enjoy sites like Pinterest.

My advice? It's an interesting attempt, but never confuse online behavior with demographics. 

I've worked with lots of moms online for the better part of a decade. I tend to agree with another study that suggests moms know best. Not some of them or certain segments, but all of them all the time.

Beyond the case studies I mentioned in the moms know best brief, I've also seen them at work on very large-scale projects that range from the cancellation of the television series Jericho and shaping of Days Of Our Lives to social good campaigns like Human Rights and March of Dimes (and scores of others).

And in observing or working with all them (including the demographics captured by MWW), I've noticed only one thing is certain. When faced with an issue they care passionately about (or their friends feel passionately about), moms will jump these so-called spheres faster than you can blink.

Further, the concept of micro-targeting along these lines is also fraught with peril and misses opportunities. You never really know when a wallflower might become the rally point or pass it to her long-time friend who happens to be a quasi-celebrity. In fact, it was one of these under-the-radar moms that connected the Bloggers United: Human Rights campaign to Amnesty International because she was only one degree of separation away.

If you want to create a micro-targeting effort, don't consider supposed behavior styles as the model to follow. What you really want to do is look at their areas of interest, which is how most people are motivated online. Don't waste time chasing influencers because they don't exist. Nurture relationships with like-minded people. Otherwise, you might as well start assigning them klout scores.
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