At an exclusive Gorkana media briefing with the UK’s largest parenting blogging network, BritMums, this week, co-founders Susanna Scott and Jennifer Howze shed light on the growing strength of its 8,000-strong “influencers”, why everyone should go onto Pinterest, how brands can partner with the network and why dad bloggers are seen as the “rockstars” of BritMums.
“Our audience? They’re influencers”, says BritMums co-founder Susanna Scott, who, in eight years, has built up the UK’s largest collection of parenting lifestyle bloggers and digital influencers alongside co-founder Jennifer Howze.
Founded in 2008, BritMums aims to fuel the country’s influential social content. Its 8,000-strong network represents more than 15,000 blogs, which cover a variety of topics, including home and design, reviews, parenting tips and school-run networks.
As well as the blogging network, BritMums has successfully expanded into events. It runs BritMums Live, the UK’s biggest annual real world blogger and social media conference and Brilliance in Blogging, an annual social media awards programme.
Susanna Scott, co-founder, editor and MD of BritMums, launched the social network after a career in marketing. She wanted to “create a space” for parent bloggers to network and share ideas and opportunities.
Eight years since launching, both Scott and Howze find BritMums blogs much more professional, with more social and mobile activity. “It’s an exciting time”, Howze explains. “Content is constantly improving. You now get the millennial mums, as well as the more established older parents, all contributing.”
Great talk on how parent blogging has evolved from @AModernMother @jhowze. Location wasn't too shabby either @britishmuseum #gorkanabritmums
— RedDoorUnlimited (@RedDoorComms) May 4, 2016
BritMums’ core aims have stayed the same. It’s a space for mums and dads to find their voices. “It still brings niches of people together who have the same interests to talk about”, Scott says.
Howze describes the BritMums community as being “bound together” by the shared experiences of being a parent. And it’s not just about babies. It’s about children of all ages, as well as other issues, experiences and dilemmas that parents go through.
What’s more, BritMums are influencers. The community is not just blogging anymore. They’re vlogging, they’re on social, they’re identifying the latest trends, they want to monetize what they offer and they’re looking to partner with brands which can connect with their mindset.
"The parenting bloggers we like to feature have a distinct voice, they may be controversial, but they're always fresh" #GorkanaBritMums
— Gorkana (@Gorkana) May 4, 2016
In an exclusive breakfast briefing, chaired by Philip Smith, head of news and content at Gorkana, at The British Museum, Scott and Howze identified six key things they thought PRs needed to know about the UK’s largest collection of parenting influencers.
Dad bloggers are seen as the “rock stars” of the BritMums community
More fathers are blogging, Howze. Some have since gone on to take on brand ambassadorship roles since joining the network. Because it’s a smaller niche, it’s easier for them to distinguish themselves. If anyone is thinking of starting a dad-blog, now is the time – especially if they consider themselves “hip daddy bloggers with beards”.
"The growth of the hipster dad blogger" – @BritMums @Gorkana #gorkanabritmums
— Rochester PR Group (@RochesterPR) May 4, 2016
Best content? Pulling heartstrings and offering tips
Personal stories that are done in a fresh way always prove popular. Everyone has read those “heart rending” stories in mainstream media, but BritMums provides a community of support for those willing to share their stories.
"The most popular content in terms of blog posts are stories that pull on the heartstrings." #GorkanaBritMums
— Golley Slater PR (@GolleySlaterPR) May 4, 2016
Also, “everyone loves top tips,” Scott reminds us. The team worked in partnership with British Gas a while back to come up with 37 things children are most curious about. Four years later, it’s still one of the most-read pieces of content on BritMums.
If you’re not on Pinterest, you need to be
Different social networks work for different content. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are still strong bases for conversation, but both Scott and Howze see search and inspiration as the next big thing in social. Scott says it is one of the biggest drivers of referral traffic for bloggers in the US and is becoming increasingly influential in the UK.
"if you're not on Pinterest you need to join now!" – the next big thing from @BritMums @Gorkana briefing #gorkanabritmums
— The Brighter PR Team (@BrighterPR) May 4, 2016
The community is looking to partner with brands
The team has “tried and tested models” of how to get bloggers engaged, and have worked on more than 300 projects with brands. A large supermarket chain approached BritMums a couple of years back to help promote its new pricing models. A month in advance of an upcoming bank holiday, the team mobilised 400 bloggers to go into the stores over that weekend and then write about their experiences. From that, 500 separate pieces of content were created.
"A great brand partnership is encouraging influencers to experience something and to have a real conversation around it" #gorkanabritmums
— Gorkana (@Gorkana) May 4, 2016
Remember, bloggers are not journalists
Unlike journalists, bloggers do not receive a salary for what they do, yet they write content, produce photos, create video, edit and publish their work. Many brands and PRs say they will not pay bloggers, Howze says, but she thinks this should be reconsidered. Also, sending a press release to a blogger as you would to a journalist isn’t going to cut it. They don’t do the same thing.
"Bloggers are editors, publishers and brand owners. Don't fall into the trap of treating them like journalists" @BritMums #gorkanabritmums
— Rochester PR Group (@RochesterPR) May 4, 2016
There’s still time to get involved with BritMums Live 2016
BritMums Live, now in its fifth year, takes place 25 June in London. It’s an event that Jennifer describes as bringing the BritMums community together – “the one time of year when “online best friends” can finally meet.
While the event speaks to bloggers as parents, it speaks to the community as “social influencers” – They are there to connect with brands and there’s still time (just) to get signed up for this year’s event.
More than 130 people from the Gorkana community turned out for the briefing, describing it as “inspiring”, “insightful” and “worth getting out of bed for”. (Oh, and they loved the venue):
Fantastic briefing from @BritMums this morning – very insightful into how they work with bloggers #gorkanabritmums pic.twitter.com/Ejy5BWww16
— Fetch Friends (@fetchfriends) May 4, 2016
Lots of insightful nuggets this morning with at #GorkanaBritMums. Thanks @gorkana @amodernmother @jhowze! https://t.co/FDOccK9OaK
— Splendid Comms (@SplendidComms) May 4, 2016
#GorkanaBritMums briefing at #TheBritishMuseum this AM – definitely worth getting out of bed for @jhowze @AModernMother Really insightful!
— Ceris Harrison (@ceris_h) May 4, 2016
Blue sky and the British Museum for an inspiring talk with @BritMums and @Gorkana #gorkanabritmums pic.twitter.com/KZU26iNhnP
— Elena Ferrario (@ElenEcht) May 4, 2016
Enjoying the @Gorkana @BritMums breakfast this morning at @britishmuseum: "In this niche you constantly have to innovate" #gorkanabritmums
— KPPR (@kpprtweets) May 4, 2016
An insightful morning with @BritMums #GorkanaBritMums pic.twitter.com/48vd7PLZpo
— Hillgate (@HillgatePR) May 4, 2016
Great start to a beautiful day with the @BritMums briefing this morning at the British Museum #gorkanabritmums
— Babyville (@babyville) May 4, 2016
We had a great time at #GorkanaBritMums breakfast briefing this morning! #BritishMuseum was a beautiful location!
— Margaret Street (@MargaretStPR) May 4, 2016
Thank you @Gorkana & @BritMums for an inspiring morning at the @britishmuseum #GorkanaBritMums
— PerowneCharlesComms (@verypcc) May 4, 2016