Study: Moms make, trust in-person recommendations more than social media

CHICAGO — So who's more influential: the Facebook mom, or the mom chatting up other moms at the school drop-off? 

According to "The Mom Next Door: How and Why Moms Make Recommendations," a new study released Tuesday at the M2Moms conference in Chicago by the 360PR MomSquad and Mom It Forward, 83% of moms make recommendations about brands in person compared with 53% of moms who make recommendations via social media. The majority of moms (59%) rated in-person recommendations at the top of the scale for trustworthiness, while only 14% of moms rated recommendations via social media as "most trustworthy."

The 360PR MomSquad is a national network of influencer-moms and is a service of 360 Public Relations. Mom It Forward is a social media community and worldwide network dedicated to enhancing the lives of women, their families and the communities in which they live.

According to the study, nearly three-quarters of moms (71%) make recommendations about brands, products and services to other moms at least monthly, with 50% making recommendations about brands daily. "We call these moms the recommender-moms, and it's clear they're looking to connect offline, though social media plays a role, too," explained Laura Tomasetti, CEO at 360PR. "Brands need to get to know the mom recommenders in their sphere and balance online activity with high-touch opportunities to engage these uber-influencers."

Gen Y paving the way online

While the study demonstrates the power of in-person, it also found that online social networks are important microphones for Gen Y moms. As compared with Gen X moms, Gen Y moms of infants to 3-year-olds are more comfortable relying on recommendations from moms in their online social networks. They're the heaviest users of newer social platforms, such as Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.

"Social media has an important role to play, especially with younger moms," stated Jyl Johnson Pattee, CEO of Mom It Forward. "Fifty-eight percent of moms use social media for more than one hour daily, with Gen Y moms indexing the highest. Interestingly, Facebook and Twitter are popular across the board, with no generational differences among moms."

The power of the mom next door

The study amplifies the role of "the mom next door" in brand marketing today, finding that 93% of moms are influenced by other moms' recommendations. Moms surveyed said they interact with other moms most often at day care/school drop-off (58%), at a friend's house (54%) or other off-line get-together, such as meeting for coffee, working out or shopping (48%). Moms of older kids (9 years of age and older) indexed higher for at-work conversations with other moms, while moms of younger children (infants to 3 years of age) indexed higher for conversations online.

While special offers continue to be the top motivator of mom recommendations (61%), more than half of moms said they make recommendations because it's fun (54%) and gives them a sense of pride (51%). Moms said they rely on online reviews, including those by bloggers they read regularly, particularly for bigger purchases.

The Mom Next Door research by 360PR and Mom It Forward included interviews with more than 1,000 moms via a quantitative Web-based survey of 964 U.S. moms of children 12 years of age and younger conducted in August 2012 by Lindberg International, and a series of live events with 95 moms conducted September to October 2012, including in-home events in six regionally diverse markets and one online event.

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