It was the typical six-year old birthday party at McDonald’s. A gaggle of kids who first sit down politely and order food – maybe. But the colorful play structures reached out with giant arms, tugging at them. Adults couldn’t hear it, but there was a voice whispering in each ear at the same time. “Hey you. You in the blue shirt. Come on over. Climb. Jump. Throw stuff.” And that’s how the roughhousing began. But kids don’t always know where the lines end and trouble begins. Soon enough they were jumping off in all the wrong places and more. That was the scene when a child at the party fell and opened up his head. Blood gushing everywhere. But thanks to moms with medical expertise things turned out okay.
This is just one of the stories shared on cafemom.com, a social networking site for mothers. But CafeMom isn’t just any social networking site. It is by some accounts the most popular site for mothers. It is said to have high “engagement metrics,” passing iVillage and Martha Stewart along the way. Moms go there to “connect with other moms based on shared interests to make friends, share advice and find support.” Moms can also find groups such as, “pregnancy,” or “raising boys,” an indication that each condition may require a unique skill set.
But for every gash-in-the-head mom story, there’s something much bigger at work here. CafeMom is a marketing business, leveraging its social-networking popularity to cut deals with corporations that sell everything from baby clothes to cereal, to smart phones. It was co-founded by Michael Sanchez, “out of respect and admiration for moms,” and Andrew Shue – yes that Andrew Shue, from Melrose Place. Increasingly, corporations who wish to reach the mom demographic are turning to CafeMom as part of their marketing mix. They offer discounts, coupons and even free stuff to engage moms. To paraphrase – if moms are engaged, everybody’s engaged.
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