Google Plus Grandma: How Smart Moms Survive In The Information Jungle by Laura Simpson
Laura Simpson is SVP, Global Director of McCann Truth Central at McCann Erickson and the author of this piece which first appeared on Engage: Moms published by Mediapost.
Once upon a time we lived in a world of village parenting where matriarchal knowledge was limited to immediate family and neighbors. We now live in a world of community parenting where the matriarchal knowledge base is limitless and moms are part of multiple online and offline groups. From parenting books and magazines to community forums, TV Shows, celebrities, doctors and Facebook you might say that modern mom has truly inherited the “momopedia…”
The upside to this new information-rich era is that mom has a multitude of ways to answer the age old questions… “Am I normal?” and “Is my child normal?” For many mothers, the quest for answers begins by simply typing her most pressing query into Google. In our recent “Truth About Moms” research, the mothers in Italy referred to Google as “The Oracle!”
But this deluge of information has not come without challenges. In fact, over half (58%) agree globally that when it comes to making good parenting decisions, there is too much conflicting information out there. This sentiment is highest in the developing markets: 70% in China, 69% in Brazil and 66% in India.
Moms are responding to this by developing their curation skills and learning how to expertly blend new world and old world sources. They take traditional advice from their mothers or grandmothers and filter it via technology until the best solution is reached. As a Brazilian mother said; “When my first daughter was born I remember that her belly button fell off and I told my grandmother about it. She asked me, ‘Did you bury it?’ I had already thrown it out, so I went to the Internet.” Forty-nine percent of moms chose their mom or other female family member as one of the two best sources for providing advice and info they really trust. This is even higher in the U.S. (61%) and UK (59%).
Mom is becoming adept at using different sources for different solutions. For example, the top-rated source for child-friendly activities is community sites like Café Mom, the top-rated source for recommendations for child friendly products is friends and relatives, and the top-rated source for child education is parenting books and magazines.
Moms also use online communities to find the answers to embarrassing questions or seek information on taboo subjects like post-natal depression. Interestingly, she has the unique opportunity to find her “mom twin” online. In her real life friendship circle she may not know a mother with a child of exactly the same age experiencing the same challenges (a specific allergy, for example), but she can find the woman who reflects her own precise situation online and ask her for advice and tips.
On the flip side, she will also find women online who have a completely different parenting ethos and approach to her own. The problem with so many readily-available facts is that everyone is an expert on parenting and everyone feels qualified to criticize everyone else’s approach to parenting. In our groups we noted a degree of judgment between moms and wondered if this was being exacerbated by the explosion of parenting information sources and online communities. In our quantitative survey we saw that the top sources of debate amongst moms were non-working vs. working mom, what to feed your kids and schooling.
So how does mom survive in this new information jungle? Smart moms believe that as well as honing your curation skills, you need to look inside and rely on your own mom compass; 73% believe that a good mom always relies on her own instincts.
Brands that succeed will not only bolster a mom’s confidence but also strengthen her inner compass and avoid adding to the clutter of information. In a world of infinite facts, truths and opinions, brands must recognize that moms are not seeking the right answer; they are simply seeking the answer that’s right for her and her child.
Laura Simpson is SVP, Global Director of McCann Truth Central at McCann Erickson.