Wheelbarrows, Customer-Led Growth and H.J. Heinz

We’ve been told The Motherhood’s office in Sharpsburg, PA sits on land that was once part of the H.J. Heinz family farm.

In the years we’ve been in this building, I’ve also heard many other stories about Sharpsburg’s most famous son. This is the one that’s most stuck with me (as told by Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine):

Sharpsburg’s residents tended gardens, and the Heinz family’s garden was sufficiently fecund to feed their children (soon to be eight) and provide extra for selling. In 1852, at the age of eight, first-born son H.J. began peddling the surplus in baskets door-to-door in the neighborhood. Two years later his parents gave him his own three-quarters of an acre and he began using a wheelbarrow to deliver produce. By the age of twelve, he had enlarged his tract to three-and-a-half acres and purchased a horse and cart to sell to customers.

Imagine that young Henry John (and how YOUNG he was!) farming and bottling, mostly horseradish, and going door-to-door selling from a wheelbarrow, right here, in our neighborhood.

What was H.J. thinking as he visited the neighbors, building the foundation of what became one of the world’s most well-known brands and biggest corporations?

In 1904, the house where H.J. Heinz founded his company was floated down the Allegheny River from Sharpsburg to Pittsburgh. Photo credit: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/businessnews/2013/02/15/history-of-heinz-it-all-began-with-his-mom-s-garden/201302150279

Of course, it comes back to his mother.

According to this article, H.J.’s mother, Anna, would tell him, “Always remember to place yourself in the other person’s shoes.”

Putting himself in the customer’s shoes, one of the things H.J. must have learned going door-to-door was that families – who were for the most part growing and preparing food themselves – demanded any food they bought from somewhere else had to be up to the families’ highest standards. From Explore PA History:

To convince prospective customers that his horseradish was pure and wholesome – just like homemade – Heinz used clear bottles, instead of the traditional green, to show customers that his was “unadulterated” horseradish that contained no leaves, grated turnip, sawdust, small chunks of wood, or other foreign substances that unscrupulous manufacturers often added. Consumers quickly recognized the quality of his product and soon sales of Heinz’s expanded line of horseradish, pickles, sauerkraut, and vinegar were brisk.

Young H.J. was obviously on to something. He listened to his customers and had a relationship with them, he innovated accordingly, based on what he heard from his customers, and he implemented those innovations, even expanding on them — and then repeated the process again and again.

Photo credit: https://artmap.com/wattis/exhibition/americana-pennsylvania-2011

Customer-led growth is a buzz word now, but it’s proven to be critical for any successful brand. H.J. Heinz planted the roots for not only customer-led growth, but also for what’s best in how brands and organizations use social media to connect and communicate with their customers.

What are some other lessons from H.J. Heinz on customer listening and relationship building that we can apply in the age of social media?

Build Trust by Being Transparent

Just as he aimed to be transparent in selling his own product in clear bottles, H.J. was a driving force in passing the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, a consumer protection law that aimed to prevent the sale or labeling of harmful foods and medicines – and an act that many other food manufacturers of the time opposed. This commitment to product safety and purity helped garner trust among his customers, and it boosted sales for his brand (source).

Transparency is a requisite for any successful brand. It applies to all aspects of a business – from leadership communicating with employees, to ensuring ethical business practices (like properly disclosing partnerships) and communicating successes or failures in an honest way to your stakeholders. In this day and age of interconnectivity and social media, it’s immediately apparent when brands are lacking transparency.

Show and Tell: Communicating Your Value

In the late 1800s, Heinz offered factory tours to demonstrate just how safe and clean his manufacturing process was. The tours highlighted how well he treated his employees through comfortable working conditions and instructing managers to listen to employee concerns. Visitors were also given samples of his products and a pickle pin on the tours. This was such a successful tactic that other companies soon started following suit (source).

H.J. was quoted as saying: “To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.” It’s commonplace for brands to demonstrate the benefits of a product or service. But doing it exceptionally well – communicating your value in a strategic way that breaks through the clutter – is what drives brand loyalty and spurs positive word of mouth.

Photo credit: http://explorepahistory.com/displayimage.php?imgId=1-2-125C

The quote above, “Heart Power is Better than Horsepower,” is the principle on which H.J. founded his business, and defined how he treated his employees (source).

While there is a need to create efficiency and a role for automation in nearly all industries, without that human touch, so much is lost. That human element is critical to process and respond thoughtfully to the concerns of your customers, or your employees.

Listening to Customers

H.J. not only applied his mother’s advice of placing yourself in the other person’s shoes to ensure fair treatment for his employees, but for his customers as well.

Listening is becoming increasingly important, as consumers are quicker than ever to share their unfiltered experiences via social media. Brands that listen – and respond (whether that’s actually responding or using those insights to shape future practices) – to their customers’ concerns reap short- and long-term benefits.

In fact, customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand (source). When companies engage and respond to customer requests over social media, those customers spend 20-40 percent more money with the company than other customers do (source).

Today I watched a boy skateboard around our building’s parking lot and wondered what might happen if H.J. Heinz had been that boy today. Imagine what he’d build with the help of social media, imagine what he would do with the power to connect “one-on-one” with his customers, but at scale. He’d no doubt build something that changed everything, this time with a smartphone instead of a wheelbarrow, because he carried with him fundamental lessons from his mom — that empathy, understanding, listening and placing yourself in the other person’s shoes are at the heart of all true success.

Top photo credit: http://historicpittsburgh.org/collection/hj-heinz-company-photographs?page=8

In Celebration of Single Parents Everywhere

Photo credit: Football, Food & Motherhood

March 21 is #SingleParentsDay. Join us and Angel Soft in celebrating these amazing parents!

Top photo credit: Football, Food & Motherhood

Did you know that every day, more than 12 million moms and dads are raising their kids as single parents? Eighty-four percent of those single-parent households are single mother families, and 16 percent are single father families. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Whether it’s the result of an unexpected pregnancy, death or divorce, or if the path to single parenthood is by choice, single parents assume an incredible amount of responsibility in raising their kids, fulfilling the role of two parents. They’re often solely responsible for the well-being and upbringing of these children, and — in the process of juggling their own careers, finances, childcare, homework and more — are often stigmatized and face misconceptions about single parenting.

That’s why we’re working with Angel Soft to recognize these incredible everyday heroes. Take a look at their heartwarming tribute to single parents here:

Together with Angel Soft, we’ve worked to recognized a group of influencers who are truly doing it all as single parents or understand the significance of the role as they were raised by a single parent. Here are some of life lessons they’ve learned:

Shanaka, A Blender Mom: “There were some people that actually told me as a child that I was doomed in life because I came from a broken home. I proudly declared my house was not broken and my Mom was all I needed. Divorced family kids or kids raised by one parent aren’t as messed up as some seem to think. I think I function in society just as well as those who come from a ‘traditional’ family. I know that my single mom raised me all right on her own and that’s all that matters. She had no child support from my bio dad. She was great at hiding the tired eyes of being both mom and dad for me. My childhood is proof that you can thrive with just one parent. She didn’t set out to be a single parent, she just wanted to be the best parent for me and that’s exactly what she was and is.

Sharon, Discover Explore Learn: “For every rough day, there are many more fantastic ones. Life with kids, whether you’re parenting alone or with a partner, is full of challenges, as well as joy and laughter. Children are inspiring, and they truly make life worth living. The hard days, which are few and far between, are easily forgotten when you focus on all the good times.”

Nicole, Pretty Opinionated: “I think as single parents, we try really hard to be both the best mom AND the best dad a kid could ever have. We spread ourselves super thin, overcompensate, send mixed signals to our kids and end up feeling like we have split personalities at times. Here’s the thing: you’re never going to take the place of the absent parent, and that’s okay.”

Jessica, A Southern Mother: “Helping out a single parent and honoring them on National Single Parent’s Day is simple. You could encourage a single parent by volunteering an afternoon of childcare, helping with errands, host a play date, or even something as simple as a cooking dinner. Many single parents who don’t have family living close by are grateful for any help or assistance that they can get.”

Maria, Sammy Makes Six: “As hard as being a single parent was, I would not trade a single second of it. Those years are the ones that shaped me into the person that I am today, those are the years where I found out my worth as a person … even though we struggled at first, we never stopped living. We had our yearly trips to Disney, we were always out on weekends, and I was able to spoil them later for what they lacked those first years. I was not, still am not, the perfect parent — but I have always tried my best. My oldest girls are now all over the age of 21, we made it! When I see a young single mom or dad, I think back to my days in their position and wish I could tell them that it’s going to be ok, I want to tell them that they are doing a great job. I don’t think single parents hear that enough.”

Are you or do you have a single parent in your life? Be sure to recognize how amazing they are on #SingleParentsDay!

Social Media Week NYC Takeaways | Using Data to Inform Social Media Content

This post on data-driven social content is the second of two blog posts in The Motherhood’s recap of Social Media Week NYC. Click here to read the first post, covering the evolution of influencer marketing and video.

We recently had the opportunity to virtually attend Social Media Week NYC 2017 (#SMWNYC), where social media experts shared industry news, trends, best practices and insights. When it comes to producing engaging and effective social content, many speakers at Social Media Week NYC shared their formulas for success. A common theme among them? They incorporate data-driven social content into their programming. Here are some of our favorite highlights:

Define and follow success: Michelle Kempner, Buzzfeed’s VP of Operations, noted that Buzzfeed’s video producers follow successes and don’t lament over videos that didn’t work. They examine the performance of their videos after 24 hours, which determines their video plan for the week. When evaluating the performance of their content, producers focus on shares specifically, since that action indicates the user taking a purposeful, extra step.

Invest in content strategy: Ensuring you have a team dedicated to producing data-driven social content and determining when and where that content will live on the customer journey is critical to success. Percolate issued a report in which they surveyed senior marketers about how they spend their money, and in 2016, they saw a six percent uptick in content spend, and on average, high-performing brands invested even more in content than their peers. According to Noah Brier, the CEO of Percolate, 70 percent of brands expect to increase their social content budget, which is critical since there is a demand for more high-quality content.

Empathy reigns: Jason Carmel, Chief Data Officer of POSSIBLE, reiterated the value of using data to inform content before pushing it live. In order to build relationships with target audiences, human-centered data is key. With this data, brands can become empathetic to their audiences and can extract what they’re thinking and feeling, which in turn, allows brands to better connect with them.

What’s old is new: Brit Morin, CEO and Founder of Brit + Co, explained that her team examines what’s trending on various platforms and creates content to capitalize on those trends and determine which direction to go next. Morin said that because much of her site’s content is evergreen, they have data-driven social content for the next several years. Brit + Co.’s top-performing posts are from 2013, so they don’t always need to create new content – rather, they think about how and when to re-socialize that information, based on the data on when that content historically trends.

Consideration, not (necessarily) transactions: Evan Neufeld, Vice President of Intelligence at L2, stated that currently, one in four American adults block ads, but by the end of 2017, that will rise to one in three. Neufeld explained that video and social media are leading the way in digital media spending worldwide, and that it’s less about social commerce transactions than it is social media having a key role in the discovery and consideration process (a topic we’ve discussed, as well!).


Data-driven social content insights from Social Media Week NYC

Take a look at our other recap of Social Media Week NYC here, where we share insights on influencer marketing and video. Were you at the event? Tell us your biggest takeaways in the comments!

Skin Care Solutions: #GONOLO with The Motherhood & Simple Sugars!

If you have sensitive skin, dry skin, psoriasis or eczema, or if you are just looking for ways to streamline your skincare routine with one great solution, keep reading.

Try Simple Sugars, an all-natural skincare line specially formulated for people with sensitive skin.

When The Motherhood heard about a skincare line that could replace lotion and cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize in one easy step, we were excited to give it a try. Within a couple of weeks, we were all hooked on Simple Sugars and have gone “no-lo” (that’s no lotion, folks)! Full disclosure: In addition to being customers and fans of the brand, we are currently working with Simple Sugars to coordinate an influencer campaign.

So what is Simple Sugars? It’s an all-natural skincare line specially formulated for people with sensitive skin. This very convenient, super-effective skincare solution is made with nothing but the finest, purest, natural ingredients. They happen to smell amazing, too! Even better — Simple Sugars facial scrubs, body scrubs and foot scrubs are handmade right here in Pittsburgh (home of The Motherhood’s headquarters) by Lani Lazzari, who – shortly after graduating from high school – appeared on the hit show Shark Tank and secured an investment from billionaire Mark Cuban.

We recently shared the delight of Simple Sugars with a group of influencers in our network, and they are loving the products. Here are some of their thoughts:

Try Simple Sugars, an all-natural skincare line specially formulated for people with sensitive skin.

“These natural scrubs gently exfoliate and moisturize, in fact I was able to skip body lotion after using the body scrub! These products are gentle enough for daily use, even on sensitive skin like mine. I used my facial scrub each morning on clean skin, and loved the effect it had. My skin cleared up, it looked brighter, and I found that my other products (primer, etc.) applied more evenly.”
– Carly, Lipgloss and Crayons

Try Simple Sugars, an all-natural skincare line specially formulated for people with sensitive skin.

“When Simple Sugars contacted me and asked if I knew anyone who could benefit from an all-natural skincare line that could tackle dry, damaged skin in one step, without using lotion – boy, was I ready. I was a little skeptical, I admit. After all, I’d been trying for years. The results from Simple Sugars blew my mind.”
– Kenda, MomSkoop!

Try Simple Sugars, an all-natural skincare line specially formulated for people with sensitive skin.

“My skin is brighter, smoother, and I feel more confident. My makeup applies smoother because of the gentle exfoliation. You guys, I don’t know if I could ever not have these products in my life. I never apply lotion out of the shower now and my alligator skin is gone! I like to enjoy my scrub while I’m conditioning my hair. Like I said, I’m all about saving time right now.”
– Andrea, Glam Hungry Mom

Try Simple Sugars, an all-natural skincare line specially formulated for people with sensitive skin.

“My son tried the Coconut Body Scrub the other night. After his shower, the first thing he did was come downstairs and say ‘feel my arms, I’m so smooth!’ Even better? No irritation! I highly recommend buying a flip-top lid (sold on Simple Sugars’ website) for scrubs that you plan to use in the shower. Makes it so much easier to open and get what you need. I also recommend putting a shower’s worth in a small cup (like those little cups you put ketchup in when you go to a restaurant) and giving that to your child.”
– Nicole, Pretty Opinionated

Try Simple Sugars, an all-natural skincare line specially formulated for people with sensitive skin.

“I was shocked to see these results just after three days of using the Simple Sugars strawberry scrub! These photos have not been touched up, lightened or darkened. I’ve never been so excited to share a product with you guys. I know so many mothers’ that have to deal with their children’s eczema. Simple Sugars is the truth! I’m amazed at the quick results.”
– Trina, Baby Shopaholic

Want to learn more? Join us on Thursday, March 16 at 8 p.m. on the Simple Sugars Facebook page for a LIVE broadcast with founder Lani Lazzari! She’ll be talking all about her skincare line and answering questions from participants, and you might even have a chance to win a jar of Simple Sugars to try for yourself.

And don’t forget to check out the rest of our team who joined the #GONOLO revolution (and learn how you can get a rare, exclusive discount on your order through April 15, 2017):
Becky, My Sparkling Life
Chrystal, Happy Mothering
Kelly, Live. Love. Texas.
Kristin, Take Time For Style
Stacey, theSIMPLEmoms

Social Media Week NYC Takeaways | The Evolution of Influencer Marketing and Video

Last week, The Motherhood’s team had the opportunity to virtually attend Social Media Week NYC 2017 (#SMWNYC), where social media experts shared industry news, trends, best practices and insights. Here, we recap some of the most talked-about topics during the event: influencer marketing and video.

How Influencer Marketing is Evolving

It’s no surprise that we firmly believe in the effectiveness of influencer marketing – a billion-dollar industry in the U.S. that is estimated to climb to $5-10 billion by 2020. The evolution of this discipline was a much-discussed topic at Social Media Week NYC.

Maximizing Spend with Micro-influencers: While many marketers continue to prioritize reach, savvy brands and agencies have begun to recognize the significant impact that micro-influencers (those with smaller reach but greater audience trust) have on engagement – and engagement with the right audience, too.

We believe greatly in the power of working with micro-influencers at scale, and we were thrilled to see this approach reinforced at Social Media Week NYC. Giordano Contestabile, CEO, Bloglovin’, shared an interesting case study that compared the performance of 25 micro-influencers versus one top-tier influencer. The two groups had the same overall reach, but the group of 25 micro-influencers produced double the number of likes and comments on their sponsored content compared to the one top-tier influencer.

Defining Measurement/ROI: Many speakers noted the challenge of capturing the efficacy of influencer marketing in existing industry terms. While there are formulas to translate influencer marketing metrics into familiar forms of measurement for other forms of media, it’s up to industry leaders to help articulate and define the value proposition of influencers. Measurement even varies by social platform. Nikhil Sethi, Co-Founder and CEO of Adaptly, shared that what “counts” as a view is even different across platforms.

Takeaways from Social Media Week NYC

Experimenting with Engagement: Ken Blom, Buzzfeed’s Director of Branded Content Distribution, explained that for so long, social networks have been oriented in a “north-south” (up-and-down) manner. Now, with the introduction of Instagram’s galleries, there is an attempt to stop users in their feeds to swipe in an “east-west” or left-to-right manner.

Investing in Pay-for-Play: As social media platforms’ algorithms change and organic content becomes less visible, brands and influencers are putting more dollars behind their content in order to compete for views. Meg Shedding, Director of Product Marketing for Fullscreen, illustrated this shift clearly:

Takeaways from Social Media Week NYC

Looking into the Future of Video

Across every major social platform, video consumption continues to rise. In fact, Cisco predicts that by 2019, video content will be the driving factor behind 85 percent of search traffic in the U.S. A number of speakers at #SMWNYC shared interesting insights on the prevalence of video:

  • 600 million people use Instagram monthly, and the consumption of video on mobile has jumped from 15 percent in 2013 to 50 percent in 2016 (Jeff Taylor, Instagram’s Regional Product Marketing Manager).
  • Consumers spend 45 minutes a day viewing video on smartphones (Nikhil Sethi, Co-Founder and CEO of Adaptly).
  • Any time Brit + Co embeds a 30-second video near a product on their site, they see 300 percent more conversion on that product or service (Brit Morin, CEO and Founder, Brit + Co).
  • Social is going head-to-head with TV for ad dollars:
    • Snapchat reached 41 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S., compared to just six percent by the average TV channel, and 60 percent of people prefer online video platforms to live TV (Nikhil Sethi, Co-Founder and CEO of Adaptly).
    • YouTube has surpassed one billion hours viewed per day. TV viewership has flat lined; digital video has become the primary use case for anything that moves for advertisers. (Ian Schafer, Founder and Chairman, Deep Focus).

Industry leaders shared their thoughts on some changes coming to video technology, too. According to Ian Schafer, YouTube has plans to roll out unskippable pre-roll ads, and Facebook will soon introduce mid-roll ads, ensuring that advertisers fully reach their intended audience.

On the flip side, Brit Morin explained that her company is creating an adjuster-controlled technology that will allow a user to slow down or speed up a vertical video on mobile so the user can better control the experience to suit his or her needs.

Stay tuned for more insights from Social Media Week NYC that we’ll share next week!

A #BeBoldForChange Profile for International Women’s Day: Chaton Turner

Today is International Women’s Day 2017 and the theme this year is #BeBoldForChange — to forge a better working world and work toward a more inclusive, gender equal world. In honor of IWD17, we’d like to share with you an inspiring woman and influencer we’ve known, worked with and admired for many years, and someone who represents all those things. She is bold and works for a better world, every single day: Chaton Turner.

Chaton, an attorney for one of Pittsburgh’s largest organizations, who has published her blog, Chaton’s World, for 10 years, has dedicated her life to issues affecting gender equity, workplace fairness and women’s rights. Over the years, I’ve had conversations with Chaton that stayed with me long afterward. She thinks in ways that are broad in scope, thorough and big picture, but laser focused on the specifics of the issues she cares passionately about, and always with an eye on how she can be most helpful.

Chaton is driven to share with her community what she has to say. I asked her where she thought that came from, and Chaton told me about her grandmother.

International Women's Day Quote

Growing up, Chaton’s grandmother was sought after by community organizations and local churches because nobody else came close to being able to mobilize for a cause, a charity event or even sell tickets to a fundraiser like her. Watching the impact of her grandmother’s civic involvement, and how much her grandmother’s dedication made a difference, taught Chaton that even as an individual, you can significantly impact your community and the world around you.

Becoming an attorney gave Chaton the added confidence that what she had to say had value.

And then, becoming a mother crystallized for Chaton the issues affecting women that she fights for to this day.

Chaton told me that, as an employment lawyer, she understood workplace issues such as pay equity, paid leave and workplace flexibility from a policy standpoint, but once she became a mom, she lived those issues in a way that was wholly tangible and real. She also immediately realized that being a corporate lawyer, the benefits she received were not common for most women.

So Chaton took action, writing and speaking about paid leave, workplace fairness and other key issues women and girls face, and joining local organizations that dedicate themselves to equity and women’s rights. In her role as a board member of the Women and Girls Foundation, Chaton is working with the organization on the PA Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, a campaign for paid family and medical leave in Pennsylvania. You can sign up to get involved here.

One of the things that struck me most from our remarkable conversations is the thoughtfulness and care Chaton puts into every idea, message or challenge she voices. Chaton said, “In my job, I focus on conflict resolution and my goal is to make every situation better, if possible. What I’ve learned in resolving conflicts is the outcome is what matters most. It is not ego or pride, it’s the outcome. So, that’s always my approach, even for my blog. I’m thoughtful about what I post or share, to nurture a healthy conversation and positive outcome around the issues being discussed.”

I kept thinking to myself: the world needs viewpoints and approaches like Chaton’s now more than ever. In the online community of mothers, built over the last decade, we need each other — and Chaton’s dedication to this “neighborhood,” not unlike her grandmother’s, makes us all better informed and hopefully, more willing to #BeBoldForChange.

After we finished our last call, Chaton sent me a note with a final thought. As we celebrate IWD17, I’d like to share Chaton’s beautiful words with you. Thank you, Chaton (and your grandma), for living #BeBoldForChange and inspiring us all to make a difference for women and girls in our community and in our world.

Spotlight Blogger: Kayla Aimee Writes

Kayla Aimee

At The Motherhood, we find the power of stories and words to be invaluable. That’s one of the many reasons that we love Kayla Aimee of Kayla Aimee Writes, our March Spotlight Blogger! As a published author, mom, speaker and top influencer, she has a beautiful way of sharing her stories and perspective that engages her readers time after time.

Take a look at our interview with her below and see for yourself!

What do you feel is the #1 trend in influencer marketing in 2017? 
Social stories, such as Facebook Live, seem to be gaining good traction and are a fun and engaging way to interact with your audience. Plus, I know they are effective because I just cannot stop watching those darn pearl parties!

What content do you feel your readers find most valuable?
My goal with every piece of writing is to engage my readers by providing something that is encouraging or equipping for them. So it meets a need for them by either providing them with an uplifting, hope and humor-filled read or by giving them the confidence to tackle a problem area in their life. My most popular pieces of content are largely those that provide solutions.

What are your thoughts on working with a brand on multiple occasions (vs. one-off programs)? 
This is actually my preference! I am a girl who shops with brand loyalty, so I prefer that to carry through on my campaigns since it is more authentic to my daily life.

I also think it helps build trust in an online era where you sometimes see people promote products back-to-back that are in direct competition with one another. When my readers see my own long-term relationship with a brand, they have more assurance that my recommendations are genuine and preference-based, rather than monetarily driven.

What are your thoughts on programs measured by initial click-through rates? 
I’m not a huge fan of them because I’ve seen how they can be manipulated, so I don’t think it’s a completely accurate measurement. In addition, I think that what a good campaign benefits from is exposure to a new audience from a trusted source.

This is another reason that long-term programs are preferable because I think people are more apt to click after seeing something more than once. Sort of like how my baby book says that you have to offer your baby the same food seven different times before they like it. Unrelated: someone please come test this theory out on my ten-month-old, who mostly just insists on throwing all of his food on the floor.

What is your favorite space to engage with your readers?
I miss the days when the comments section of a blog post was all abuzz! Right now the majority of my blog community conversation happens on Facebook, but my favorite is actually my email list. I love the more intimate format of writing weekly letters, and I really enjoy it when readers reply back to my newsletter!

Tell us why you blog. 
My blog has really evolved over the years from its inception as an online journal and currently serves first and foremost as a platform for me to serve readers in support of my traditional publishing efforts. My first book, Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected, released last year and my second book will come out in 2018. My blog is a wonderful way to introduce potential readers to my writing and allow me to connect with readers on a more personal level. Publishers expect authors to have an established platform these days, so I focus on using my blog to develop my writing skills and complement the marketing for my book. Blogging is seeing a life-long dream of being a writer come to fruition.

The secondary focus of my blog is to help provide monetarily so that I can pursue writing as a career while staying home with my children. I love the flexibility it provides while allowing me to stretch myself creatively.

What’s your greatest challenge when working with brands?
Convincing them to drop traditional marketing language in favor of a narrative that is true to my voice.

Favorite program you’ve done with The Motherhood?
I loved working on the March of Dimes campaign because it was a cause close to my heart as my daughter was born at 25 weeks. I loved being able to partner with The Motherhood and the March of Dimes to spread more social awareness and amplify a message that I feel so passionate about.

But my very favorite program was the OshKosh B’Gosh Forever Summer campaign. OshKosh is one of our go-to brands for kids’ clothing, so it was a great fit, and the creativity of the campaign was really fantastic. We put a GoPro camera on my three-year-old to make a video of summertime from her perspective and it was such a fun, unique concept to get to execute. I really loved capturing that vision.

What are your thoughts on Snapchat?
My little sister is constantly sending me snaps that crack me up, but other than that, I am just not at all into Snapchat. I think it’s easy for bloggers to get spread too thin by trying to master every social platform, so I have scaled back and decided to focus my efforts more heavily on the platforms in which I have the most engagement and that I enjoy. While I’ve seen Snapchat done very well by other people … it’s an area that I’ve consciously decided not to invest in for now.

Where do you see the most engagement with your content?
Pinterest is still one of my top referrers, and posts that are designed to be pin-friendly still generate a lot of traffic and re-pins across the platform. I invest heavily in re-sharing high-performing pins seasonally. After that, Facebook is still the best place for conversation happening around my content and where I spend most of my time chatting with readers.

What’s the #1 question you’re asked by brands, and what’s your answer?
It’s usually “How big is your audience?” which is unfortunate because while I am blessed to have a fairly large readership, I think the more important question is “WHO is your audience?”

What are brands doing right when working with bloggers?
In recent years I’ve noticed there is more of a conversation happening between brands and bloggers that allows for more of an individualized collaboration rather than a standard set of campaign requirements across the board. I love this approach and think it is a win-win for not only brands and bloggers but for the audience they are serving.

What should brands start doing (better) when working with influencers?
Creating a sponsored post is more than just the analytics of audience engagement. For me, the enjoyment is in the creative process but executing that well is time-consuming! It involves not only conceptualizing but constructing a unique narrative, styling a well-shot photo shoot, and creating supporting social media spots. I prefer to work with brands that negotiate a program based on what I can create for them as opposed to audience size metrics.

Additionally, certain topics lend themselves better to different social platforms, so I appreciate being able to focus on what will perform well, such as a targeted Pinterest campaign, rather than being conscripted into sharing something on every social platform when I know it won’t translate as well on Twitter as it would on Instagram.

I love working with brands that give me a lot of creative autonomy to design something with my audience in mind. I’m always wanting to serve my readers well, and I think it’s important for brands to remember that the reason people like to read certain blogs is for their voice and authenticity, so imposing specific marketing language actually doesn’t translate well.

You can learn more about Kayla Aimee by visiting her blog, or check her out on Facebook or Instagram!

More about The Motherhood’s Spotlight Blogger Series

Each month, our internal team convenes and discusses our latest programs, stellar partnerships and top influencers. It’s not about numbers, but rather, the quality, authentic content they’re delivering consistently. It’s about reliability, professionalism and partnership. We discuss our nominations for the month and ultimately decide on just one blogger to feature.

Check out our previous featured influencers here, and stop by in April for the next Spotlight Blogger!

Kayla Aimee

This Is Us and Why We Want to Hold Hands

This Is Us

On Tuesday nights my family and I pile onto the couch to watch This Is Us, and millions of others do too.

(Thank you to Brittnee, who, the day after the pilot aired, said “You HAVE to watch this show!” That’s WOM, at its best. Added bonus: It’s set in THE BURGH!)

Not since the heyday of American Idol have the Munroes gathered together with this level of dedication and regularity to watch scheduled, non-Netflix, “community event” television. Mandy Moore, the “mom” on This Is Us, sees that too and talked about the phenomenon in the New York Times. “This Is Us was gaining real steam after a couple of unusual things happened: There were raves from people who usually watch ‘the cool show on Amazon,’ not over-the-air TV.”

When NBC had Must See TV seriously EVERYONE watched the Thursday night line up, and the next day at work, or wherever we were, we talked about it (I see you, Gen X-ers).

Image: NBC

Image: NBC

This Is Us is starting to feel like that, but now we have the joy of social media. Yes, a lot of talk online and off is about Jack (sidenote: usually pronounced with a sigh, “Jaaaack” – can you blame us?):

THIS IS US — “Kyle” Episode 103 — Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack — (Photo by: Vivian Zink/NBC)

But the conversation is also around how much people love the show, how much it makes them cry or how they identify with the characters. This comment on the This Is Us Facebook page pretty much sums it up.

“This show speaks to ‘us’ as a family, as humans, on sooooo many levels. We are so amazed by what the cast and crew do each and every week. WOW! Thank you – with huge gratitude!!! Love, Love, LOVE.”

Dan Fogelman, creator of This Is Us, shares an interesting theory about why This Is Us is connecting with the audience saying, “They’re looking to hold hands with a TV show, and something about the show has done that.”

Mandy Moore also pointed out, “The uncertainty is in the air, and nobody knows what to expect in the next couple months, coming weeks and year ahead.” But the show gives us a cathartic moment to experience together.

Together. The fact is, This Is Us tackles everyday challenges, struggles, pain, joy, love, caring and connection, and is the number one breakout hit on network TV. We, the audience, are showing up every Tuesday at the same time to watch it. Why?

What can we pull from that?

  • More than ever, community matters. Neighboring, kindness and connection matter. This Is Us covers topics of common ground and is a reminder we all have things in our lives we’re working on or dealing with and compassion is what we need.

  • The show clearly is built on a philosophy of authenticity and relatability – from the heart. It feels, from a viewer standpoint, like the writers and cast are there fully. This magic is only possible when culturally relevant, often moving themes (especially when the theme or message goes beyond a “category”), like celebrating what makes us each unique or embracing family, whatever form it takes are addressed and lifted up in thoroughly real, authentic – and even uncomfortable – ways.
  • We are the product of our experiences and the people around us. Elizabeth Berger, co-executive producer and writer of This Is Us, said in an interview, “We really liked the idea that life throws you curve balls, and what you do with those curve balls ultimately determines the life that you live.” Isn’t that what we all want for ourselves and our kids, and what we all are most proud of: How we got through – stronger and wiser, and the people who were – and are – there for us through the good and the bad?

  • Ultimately, and I’ve always believed this to be true, life-affirming moments, experiences and unexpected reminders make the world go around and we need them as much as possible, most especially today. Those instances of affirmation reinforce to us why we are here and that we have love, community, support and each other.

This, for me, is what This Is Us is all about:

What’s Happening in Social Media News This Week

social media news

Each week, The Motherhood team pores over industry news, noting what’s new, trending and on the way out. Take a look at what we have been reading recently:

Enough About Millennials! You Can Use Influencer Marketing To Target Older Audiences, Too

Take note, brands: Older generations are online and on social media. In fact, baby boomers are19 percent more likely to share content than other generations.

Seventy-one percent of adults who are digitally active use Facebook, and usage among seniors continues to increase, according to Pew Research Center’s findings. Facebook usage breaks down by age range as follows:

  • Adults 30 to 49 years old: 73%
  • Adults 50 to 64 years old: 63%
  • Adults 65 and older: 56%

Takeaway: Don’t limit your influencer marketing campaigns to millennials and younger crowds. 


The Secret Sauce for Top-Tweeted Ads: Easy to Understand, with a Smile

Nielsen examined the relationship between engagement metrics and the most- and least-tweeted ads that aired during last year’s Super Bowl and found that top-tweeted ads were easier to process, had strong memory activation during final branding and generated more smiles overall. Viewers were also able to recall the top-tweeted ads more and were more likely to link them correctly to the brand than the least-tweeted ads after the game.

In contrast, low-tweeted ads showed a pattern consistent with confusion early on, suggesting the ads were more complex to process and had fewer intuitive moments.

Takeaway: When it comes to social posts, keep things simple for better message penetration.


New Report Links Social Media Engagement to Consumer Spending

New research shows that there is a correlation between high engagement on social media posts and consumer spending. The study looked at several large retailers’ social media engagement data, then cross-referenced it to in-store purchases. The data indicated that social media posts with the highest level of engagement (e.g., likes, comments and shares) had the greatest impact on consumer spending, as retailers that published highly engaging posts on social media reaped the benefits of more in-store sales.

Takeaway: Examine ways to increase social media engagement to ultimately drive sales. 


YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Periscope?

YouTube recently expanded its live video capabilities, and the platform is now paying influencers with more than 10,000 followers a portion of the ad revenue they generate. With almost every large social network providing live streaming now, what is the difference and which one is best for your brand? The linked USA Today article weighs the pros and cons of the various live video offerings available.

Takeaway: Do the research to discover where your target audience is already active and know which capabilities your brand wants in a video – before you hit “live.”


Facebook is Making its Biggest Push Yet to Grab Ad Dollars from TV

Facebook recently announced a new app for smart TVs. The app will serve as a destination for all Facebook videos – similar to the video tab at the bottom of the main app – and will combine videos shared by friends or pages you follow, top live videos from around the world and videos the app recommends based on your interests. Facebook users will be able to save videos from their regular Facebook app to watch when they’re sitting in front of their TV later.

Takeaway: Social media platforms are well on their way to competing for television ad dollars. 


Why Snapchat Misses the Influencer Mark (For Now)

Although it is improving, Snapchat still leaves something to be desired in the influencer marketing space. The platform’s policy is, “Everyone is an influencer,” allowing social stars to use it like everyday users. While other platforms, like YouTube and Instagram, monetize influencers for creating and producing content within their platforms, there is currently no similar setup within Snapchat. Influencers are unable to see their follower count and aren’t as easy to discover as they are on other platforms.

Takeaway: Be on the lookout for Snapchat to begin to make changes to allow increased opportunities for influencers. 


Which social media updates caught your attention this week?

Influencer Marketing: Make the Leap from Tactic to Brand Strategy

influencer brand strategy

Ten years ago, Facebook was just entering mainstream consciousness, and Twitter was a brand-new platform. Instagram and Pinterest were years away from conception, and most brands hadn’t yet grasped the potential of social media as a marketing tool and influencers as brand ambassadors.

In the grand scheme of the advertising and marketing world, influencer marketing is still the new kid in town. While more brands than ever before are recognizing the need to include it in the marketing mix – 86 percent of marketers used influencer marketing in 2016, and 94 percent found it effective – most are still using it on a tactical basis rather than truly integrating it into brand strategy.

We anticipate that will change over time, and brands who are early adopters of a comprehensive, long-term influencer marketing strategy will have an advantage over their competition in online share of voice and sentiment.

Influential moms in particular are a trusted source for consumers seeking information on brands, products and trends. They have developed thriving communities of mom readers and followers who trust their opinions and visit their blogs and social channels regularly. Tapping into this audience matters because:

  • Women own the Internet. They make 85 percent of all consumer purchases and use social media at a rate of 600 percent more than men.
  • It helps the bottom line. Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing channel for customer acquisition, with businesses making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, on average.

At The Motherhood, we typically recommend evaluating results from an influencer marketing campaign over the long term, knowing that only 10 percent of consumers make a purchase within 24 hours of learning about a new product or service, and the lifespan of an average blog post is almost 24 times as long as the standard 30-day reporting metric of unique monthly views. It helps to choose platforms relevant to the brand and topics, and set benchmarks for success in advance of beginning a campaign, too.

A recent research report noted that, while 71 percent of brand marketers rate influencer marketing as “strategic” or “highly strategic,” half report small budgets in comparison to the rest of the marketing mix – indicating that influence is “still practiced at the tactical level and thus it’s difficult to prove as a strategic priority.”

The report also points out that using influencer marketing as a one-off tactic rather than a broader, year-long strategy is incongruous with the customer experience: “Customer journeys are ‘always on,’ while campaigns come and go.” It recommends, “Make influencer relations a priority now. If you continue to approach influencer marketing as usual, you are readying to be left behind, losing control of your brand and the ability to compete in a world where customers are in control.”

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