What’s Your Mommy Brand?

Erin 032714I’d like to invite you to take a few minutes today to think about brands. What are some brands you know and trust?

As I look around my daughter’s playroom, I see brands like Lego, Step2, Fisher Price, and Melissa & Doug. These are just some of the brands that help my daughter learn and grow. Over the last week, I’ve been wearing the brand of my alma mater as we made our way to the Sweet 16 in the Men’s NCAA Basketball tournament (GO STATE!). I also work for one the most recognized brands in the U.S., a brand that not only resonates with consumers, but also has a strong presence of history and philanthropy right here in Kansas City.

What brands have won (or lost) your loyalty? I never used Shutterfly until I had a baby – but 4 free $20 gift cards and several beautiful photo books later, they won me as a consumer for life. I haven’t printed photos in years, but I’ve started creating Shutterfly photo books to chronicle my family’s life. They offer 40-50% off sales on a regular basis, so I create and save my books until a sale comes and score a great deal on every purchase. In contrast, a brand that has lost my loyalty is Hello Kitty. I always thought of Hello Kitty products as a little breath of fresh air next to the lineup of Disney princess paraphernalia, but after I learned of their product partnership with Playboy, Hello Kitty is forever crossed off the list of brands I would consider purchasing for my children.

We are surrounded by brands every day. We consider and debate brands all the time. Most of us probably could not live without many of the brands around us. But let me ask you this: How often have you given thought to your own brand?  Your personal brand? Your mommy brand?

If you are a mom who participates in the social media realm (even just on occasion), then you have probably come across a hot topic these days: the aptly-named “Mommy Wars.” Our news feeds are seemingly inundated with articles and campaigns (like this, this, this, and this entire section on Huffington Post) analyzing, debating, and calling for a stop to these “wars.” I, for one, could not agree more!

My first encounter with “mommy wars” in social media actually happened before my daughter was born. My husband and I had decided that we wanted our daughter to go to an in-home daycare and were in the middle of our search. After a long week of interviews that turned up no viable options, I posted the following Facebook status: “Can anyone recommend an in-home daycare provider in the Shawnee or Lenexa area?”

The flurry of comments that followed my post was overwhelming — and not at all what I asked for. Moms were questioning my logic for wanting an in-home day care vs. a day care center, people were posting opinions about the merits and demerits of each option, moms were bashing other moms for their opinions on the care choices they made for their kids … I watched as people that I am friends with — people that I thought I knew and generally trusted — got into an all-out verbal brawl with one another in a post asking a simple question about day care referrals. One mom even private-messaged me to apologize … and in her message, went on to further illustrate her point of view about why in-home is a poor choice and why a day care center would be a better option for my daughter. I was shocked.

Ongoing research shows that we say things through social media that we wouldn’t dare say in real life. From what I have seen, it’s sad but true. That’s why the day of the great day care debate on my Facebook page was the day I decided never to be “that mom” in my interactions with other moms on social media. In fact, I think we could end the “mommy wars” if we could all embrace, develop and live out our answer to one simple question: What’s my mommy brand?

Do you want to be known as the mean mom? The mom who constantly pushes her personal agenda? The over-opinionated, loud-mouth mom? (Ouch). I don’t, and that’s why I’ve made a commitment to live by some simple principles in my interactions with other moms in social media. Here are a few:

– I am not a know-it-all. I repeat this to myself before I post something online … my experiences are not the only experiences. My perspective is not the only perspective. The way I did something is not the “right way,” even if it worked for me. Say it with me now: “I am not a know-it-all.”

– Be an advocate for your passions, but do it in the right places and with a tone of encouragement — not judgment. I’m a passionate breastfeeding advocate, so I have “liked” related pages on Facebook and follow blogs such as Kellymom to seek support and to encourage other moms. If another mom asks a question on the page (or if someone I’m friends with asks a question on Facebook), I might chime in with my perspective if I have experience with the topic at hand, but I strive to be encouraging and to keep my response on-topic. Which brings me to my next principle …

– Only reply to a post if you have a personal experience to share. It drives me crazy when someone asks a question and people reply saying “a friend of mine had that same issue.” My perspective is that “a friend of mine” is a way for people to try and give their two cents on a topic that they personally have no experience with. I also think some people hide behind “a friend of mine” because they don’t want to be called out as the “bad guy” who said something rude or offensive. If I don’t have personal experience with the topic at hand, I don’t post.

– Keep in mind that some things are intended to be humorous. As a mom, I sometimes take myself and my title way too seriously. That’s why I have joined pages and blogs such as Baby Sideburns to add some humor to my day and to help me lighten up. I also love some of my friends’ status updates about the crazy things their kids do or say. Do I always agree with every joke and post? No. If the page or person becomes offensive to me, I keep my comments to myself and simply “unlike” or “unfriend” or block their posts from showing in my news feed. Simple as that.

– Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. I don’t understand why people seem to disregard the Golden Rule in social media. I would never approach a mom in the grocery store and make a negative comment on her parenting skills to her face – so why do people do it in social media? If you wouldn’t say what you’re about to post to someone in person, don’t say it in social media.

– If your child could read what you wrote, would you be proud of it? We all get angry. We all get upset. Mama bear can come out and show her claws at any time. But if your child read what you wrote and asked you what you meant, would you be able to explain it to them and teach them a positive lesson from it?

Whether it’s to support a mama-friend I’ve never met as thousands from around the world gather together to support and pray for her sweet son, or to help raise money for a cause that I so dearly believe in as I, along with many mamas, struggle to have confidence and pride in my post-pregnancy body, I believe that social media has the power to change the world — and the lives of individuals — for good. In fact, this is the very reason I signed up to be part of the contributor team here at KCMB!

In my interactions with other moms in social media, I strive to live out this mission by the way I represent myself through my personal mommy brand. I hope you’ll make the commitment today to do the same.

Hi, friends! I’m Erin and I've called Kansas City home for over nine years. I am the girl who always thought I’d have kids by the time I turned twenty-five and swore I’d never meet my husband in a bar. I moved to KC right after college and lived it up for several years as a single, working woman for a wee little greeting card company here in town. Not only did I not have kids according to my self-imposed timeline, I ended up meeting my now-husband Eric at O'Dowd's on the Plaza! I have lived all over the metro and have explored the city as a single gal, a married woman, and now as a mama to my daughter, Lilly (born October 2012) and Baby #2 (due June 2015). This city has something for everyone—artists, musicians, farmers, athletes, technologists, families, innovators, and more—which is why I love it! I now live in western Shawnee, KS where my husband and I tend to a 500 square foot vegetable garden, host barbecues on our deck, cheer for the Chiefs, and pray for the day when Glacé or BRGR open locations that are closer than thirty minutes away.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Amen. I posted a, what I thought, was funny story about my 2 year old. A woman whom i have met only once, but who knows nothing about me or my family felt it necessary to comment and berate me for what I said. Had she known me AT ALL, she would have known the context in which the post was written. Needless to say, I unfriended her immediately, and have carefully cultivated my “friends” list since. This mommy gig is far too difficult to have people in our lives who make us feel bad about how we parent, or the choices we make. There are a million and one ways to do things, and a million and one products to use….which is fantastic as there are more than a million and one mommies.

  2. I have all but abandoned Facebook, but am finding much inspiration on Pinterest and even Google+. There’s a surprising amount of content being shared on Google’s network, but none of my “mommy friends” really seem that in to it. Very few rude individuals there unlike on Facebook!

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