This blog post started as an entry in the daily updates blog post I have been keeping since Facebook took down Emma Kwanisca's account for the fourth time in January, 2012.
Are you a Soccer Mom? Even if you aren't, or don't identify with that label, we've all heard about the influence of "Soccer Moms." The term came into wide public use in the US Presidential election in 1996 and it's been with us ever since. Politicians target us. We have power - we can swing elections. We can make or break causes. And we are a valuable target market for advertisers, who refer to us as the "influential mom demographic."
According to Entrepreneur, there are 75 million moms in the US, and those moms influence 85 per cent of consumer purchases. That is $2.1 trillion per year in spending decisions MADE BY MOMS. How many of those moms are on Facebook? eMarketing says 23 million moms in the US who have children under 18 are active on Facebook. And moms with children at home are more likely to use social media than the average user.
We're prolific social media users, and advertisers know this. Advertisers also know we have influence, and clout. They take great care to reach us in ways that result in positive brand associations.
Mark Middleton, CEO of Bolder Media Group and HuffPo columnist, has predicted in 2012 we won't be talking about the political and social clout of "Soccer Moms" anymore, we'll be referring to "Facebook Moms." Middleton says:
"Why will 2012 be the year of the Facebook Mom? Because there are lots of them and they know how to leverage social media. They know how to scale their influence in ways Soccer Moms and NASCAR Dads didn't. ... One new study from the NPD Group reveals that 79% of all U.S. moms with children under the age of 18 are active on social media. Another new survey conducted for a greeting card company finds that women over 40 have up to four times as many Facebook friends as their children."...
Facebook offers moms up to advertisers. Facebook convinces advertisers their dollars are well-spent on the social network because they can access us precisely through Facebook's targeting system. This is what company COO Sheryl Sandberg said about Facebook and its appeal to advertisers:
"Marketers have always been looking for that person who’s not just going to buy but spread the word to their friends."
But before they spend precious advertising dollars on Facebook, businesses want to be sure Facebook can control its network and will do what it says it is going to do.
Our experience is Facebook doesn't have control of its network.Facebook encourages new moms to put photos up of their brand-new babies breastfeeding. There are 4 million babies born every year in the US and almost all of those moms put babies to breast after birth. Facebook wants women and families to share those joyous moments. That's what Facebook does - that's the core of Facebook - "we want everyone to be social," says Sheryl Sandberg. "our mission is to help people to connect and stay connected."
What do the advertisers think of that?
Facebook says they want us to share when we are nurturing our real children with our real breasts. They apologize when our breastfeeding images get taken down in error by their employees, over, and over, and over again.
What is Facebook doing when it allows its employees to side with the seamy underside of society, the bullies, the harassers?
It's time to get Facebook to take us seriously. If Facebook won't fix this problem, we can appeal to advertisers with the message that we expect them to have a relationship with us that is built on mutual respect. Our brains don't shut down the moment we start breastfeeding.
What happens when Facebook Moms don't like something? How many people on average hear about what we don't like? Right now we've got Facebook in our spotlight. Hundreds of us turned out at protests at Facebook offices around the world earlier this month. Tens of thousands of us talked about those protests. We posted breastfeeding images on our pages, we changed our status photos. We have a big reach - just the FB! Stop Harassing... page alone, with its 6500 likers, has a potential reach of 1.7 million. How big was the reach of the Hey Facebook! Breastfeeding is not Obscene Official petition site, with its 258,000 supporters (before it was taken down by Facebook!)? The Guardian, one of the biggest online newspapers in the world, took on Facebook with its challenge to readers to put Facebook's policy to the test, declaring:
"A society that is not prepared to accept the odd flash of nipple is a society that is not prepared to accept breastfeeding."
Facebook Moms are a powerful force. Advertisers know this. American Express social media expert Leslie Berland told the Financial Times in January,
"Now, companies have almost no choice but to be on Facebook, on alert for mentions of their products and the potentially viral spread of a comment about them. “The people own your brand now,” says Leslie Berland, head of social media at American Express, the card issuer. “They define the conversation and the way your company and brand are being viewed. It’s critical to be part of that conversation.”
So, Facebook advertisers: if Facebook Moms own your brand, and define the conversation about how your brand and your company are viewed ... don't you want to be viewed as the company that sticks up for breastfeeding and tells Facebook to fix this problem, and fix it now? Do you want to cozy up to a social network that harasses, intimidates, and bullies breastfeeding moms? As I wrote on my update page on this whole saga, Facebook was forced make a change for UK advertisers Vodafone and First Direct, who pulled their ads when they started appearing on pro-nazi websites.
On Wednesday, Feb. 29th, Facebook is hosting a gala event for high-powered Madison Avenue advertising and marketing execs in New York. Facebook Moms will be holding a protest. Facebook Moms are paying attention to you, Facebook advertisers. Are you paying attention to us?