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The author

Abi Liddle

Client Services Director

Netmums, the perhaps lesser known parenting website than the similarly named MumsNet, has reported that less than three weeks after launching their Parent Blogging Network, they’ve had more than 550 bloggers sign up and more than 7,000 posts viewed. This is a great response and more than 65% over those that signed up did so in the first four days. The interesting thing will be to see whether this take up continues. Parent or ‘mummy’ blogging is huge in the US, but its rise on this side of the Atlantic was echoed last month with the Cybermummy event.

Despite its cringe worthy name, the Cybermummy second annual conference was a sell out and attracted many parents looking to share tips and information, network and connect with this growing community. It was also a forum for brands to court these influencers, with brands such as P&G, Pampers and Boots, along with HP and Three appearing as sponsors. And whilst you’d expect the first three to be there, HP and Three’s presence is perhaps proof that companies understand the potential this audience has online. Giving brands the opportunity to connect with parents was apparently one of the motives behind the Netmums blogging network, facilitating bloggers to give direct feedback on products or be approached for paid product reviews.  Their rationale behind this is that often brands can be accused of getting it wrong. For example, not realising how easily parents are annoyed when asked to review products that are for the wrong aged children. This network groups these different demographics really well and make it easy for brands to get that targeting correct as well as ensuring that their members are reimbursed for their interaction. Plus, with four million visitors and one million members monthly, it’s a large and varied platform for both brands and bloggers alike. Netmums are giving any parent the opportunity to blog – and I can see why the uptake would be enthusiastic. Finding coherent information that’s relevant to you and the life stage of your child(ren) can be challenging especially given that parenting or children are such broad topics.  There’s plenty of competitive parents who want a platform in order to show off across cyberspace just how advanced their offspring is, but there’s also people with a huge range of experience on subjects as varied as childcare, life, money, disability, activism and holidays and an audience with the appetite to consume this information. In addition, it’s also directly targeting women (although men are in no way excluded), in an arguably male-dominated blogosphere, giving them a supportive environment to find a voice. This may seem a little patronising, but parenthood can be pretty isolating and connecting online is so practical if you’re at home in the day wondering how to cope with your kids or seeking the company of grown ups – there are huge numbers of forums to be joined, but blogging obviously answers a different need and hasn’t been so accessible for this mainstream community until recently. MumsNet also launched a blogging platform around the same time, although it differs with their heavy promotion of featured bloggers including David Milliband, Aggie Mackenzie and Kathryn Flett. It seems a little less welcoming in that bloggers need to apply to join the network, but those that are accepted are also offered financial incentives to interact with brands. Whilst the sites share similar names, their outlook is very different and it seems in keeping that NetMums, a site concerned with local resources, support and advice, in communities both actual and virtual, offers such a wide scope to blogging. Whereas MumsNet, with its higher profile and association with ‘big names’ and campaigns offers a less accessible version. What will be most interesting is whether the growth of these online communities continues and how it evolves beyond these sites. Please leave your comments either below or on Twitter - @Augustish