When you acknowledge that special Mom this Mother's Day you might want to change it up a little and introduce her to a network where she can socialize with others that share common interests and who face similar challenges. No matter what her age or where she resides, there are many social networks and online communities that address the needs of first-time Moms to those that juggle career and family.
With so many options to choose from, online moms can spend quality time with old friends while making introducing themselves to new ones. And with networks that don't close shop, Moms are able to communicate and access information pertaining to any topic, 24/7.
(Note: after reviewing this TOP TEN list, take a moment to vote for your favorite site at the end of this blog).
1- MoxieMom (originally known as MommyBuzz) In 2006,Moxie Moms LLC, an organization of Moms dedicated to making it easier to be a Mom, aborted MommyBuzz.com. The focus, however has remained the same - creating an opportunity for all busy Moms who want to connect with other Moms, stay in touch with friends and acquaintances, and get involved with groups of Moms who share a common interest.
It's no secret that Moms have their hands full. Due to work or other daily pressures, often there is not enough time to physically go out to meet other Moms. This network addresses that issue by allowing for connections with others whether it's baby's naptime, late night or at the office.
- Sending and receiving messages and IM chat in real-time
- Joining clubs
- Sharing personal photos
- Keeping a journal /blog: either for private use or to share with others
- Reading expert blogs from others.
2- Baby Center - Originally known as Maya's Mom, this network was one of the first social networks for mothers, launched in 2006. Owned by J&J, BabyCenter continues to shift from an e-commerce site into the Web 2.0 media realm, as its back-end software is utilized across its network of global websites.
Group Talks reveal forums on various topics, and Top Groups shows you the most popular ones. Once you register, you can import your online address book from a number of popular Web sites such as AOL and Gmail, and you can cross-reference to see if any of your friends online and off are already members. Best described as a question and answer service for parents, or as founder Ann Crady described it when she launched Maya's Mom, it's a cross between “Yahoo Answers and Facebook“.
3- Mom Bloggers Club - The name says it all - an online community for mothers who blog. Moms who start out at a more general-purpose social networking site like Facebook - but find themselves having a need to focus on blogging can step up their game here.
Not only will you connect with other Moms who share your passion, but you'll also get tips and guidance as to how to become a better blogger, embed videos on your blog, and learn about syndication and finding new channels to distribute your published work as a hobby or for pay. (To review a list of top "Mommy" blogs, check my previous post, "Top Ten Mommy Blogs.")
4- MomJunction - This is a polished, well-designed and somewhat corporate-looking social network. The benefits of joining are highlighted on the site and a 'Today's Buzz' column provides readers with popular topics that account for a wide variety of issues. 'Five great ways to use MomJunction' will instruct you step by step.
Moms can create groups that reflect their lives (friends, family, neighbors, school parents, organization members, etc.) and interact and communicate using Ripple technology to share selectively between their groups. Ripple is the equivalent of real life word-of-mouth communication, using the scale and speed of the Internet. It allows Moms to connect with groups -- share their experiences, knowledge and tips with friends and their friends - reaching out to potentially millions of Moms and their collective experiences.
5- WorkItMom - This is an all-purpose site described as 'helping working moms juggle life.' And they follow through with a professional appearance and a clickable "How to Use Work It, Mom!" for first-timers. WorkItMom includes articles and interviews, along with a contest page which acknowledges that "working moms can always use a bit of recognition (as well as some great swag!)" If you work and want to talk with other women who also balance career and home, this is the place for you.
The "De-stress" tab is a respite for Moms to carve out some time for themselves, read about other Mom's sanity savers and then vent as to what's bothering Mom in their polls. Giveaways are posted on their "Shop" tab where Moms can win silk scarves and other luxury or practical items by sending in comments about various products.
6- CafeMom - This is an ad-supported social networking website specifically targeted at mothers and offering member-generated content such as profiles, journals, groups, photos, and polls. The site launched in December 2006 and within one year became the most trafficked website for women (by page views) on the Internet, according to comScore. CafeMom has been known to receive as many as 3.1 million unique visitors a month, accounting for over 140 million page views.
On March 30, 2010, CafeMom announced the launch of The Stir, a new blog for moms featuring original content covering topics such as celebrity gossip, parenting dilemmas (and solutions), current events, and home decorating. Based in New York City, the company has about 65 employees. CafeMom is owned by privately held CMI Marketing, founded by Andrew Shue and Michael Sanchez.
7- MothersClick - A little more complex for first-timers, Mothersclick combines group-focused and question-based formats on their home page. The site's big appeal lies under the 'Groups' tab; type in your zip code to see "The World's First Geo-Mapping System for Mothers' Groups" powered by Google. It'll locate groups in your area with red clickable 'pins' describing each group. Other options include Activities, Classifieds, Reviews, Recipes, Blogs and Photos.
MothersClick is not intended to replace the "human touch" of Moms gathering together in person. To the contrary, they use technology to simplify the lives of mothers by providing greater value for the time spent online. For example, one of the main advantages of their system is the ability for mothers to communicate with others outside of their group, regardless of geography.
8- Minti - Another excellent site for someone new to online social networking, Minti.com features a 'First Visit?' button linked to a video or slideshow tour showing you how it all works. Unlike some other sites, you don't have to register to access the wealth of parenting information available. Minti's strength is its question-based format, allowing users to ask about anything and everything. And answers provided by other parents are then rated by users as to their value and effectiveness.
The content is created by members in the form of articles. The articles are tagged, rated and commented on by the community to encourage the integrity and relevancy of the information created. Topics range from pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, babies, early childhood, schooling, tweens, teenage years and beyond.
9- GotKidsNetwork - In addition to being a Mom's social network, this is a network built by parents for parents. At this site, Mom's can share, discuss, message and chats about the things most important in their lives. Services and features like connecting with babysitters, planning events and buying and selling toys and kids stuff provides extra assistance for today's busy Moms, Dads, and even grandparents.
The interesting feature of this Family 2.0 site is that it incorporates 'degrees away' from your contacts like LinkedIn, you can list events in your local area like Meetup. The site also lists classifieds, a service to find babysitters and nannies as well as messaging between members, bulletin boards and forums.
It appears that GotKidsNetwork is finding a niche in the business-end of family management. A real plus as life gets busier and busier.
10- Hot Moms Club - This social network is not what you think. According to the founders' being a 'Hot Mom' is based on confidence and emanating inner beauty. According to the founders : "You are not the best Mom unless you are the best YOU." A Hot Mom is a woman who is empowered. Being a Hot Mom is an attitude and a lifestyle, it doesn't matter what age you are, what race, shape or size, EVERY mom can be a Hot Mom! The HMC team welcomes you to join their club.
The network was started in 2005 by two frustrated Moms on a mission to redefine the traditional image of motherhood. According to their promo, there has "never been a hotter time to be a mom than now" and the Hot Moms Club feels they have been at the pulse of this movement. As of April 21, 2010, the site is still in beta, so they could use the feedback from mothers the world over as to how to create an even more effective network experience.
So why don't you surprise that special Mom in your life this Mother's Day with a link to this blog, so she can decide which social network(s) or online community makes the most sense to her. Social Networking has become such a large part of our lives, I am sure she would appreciate learning about ways she can connect and interact with other Moms around the globe.
Let us know what you think of this year's Top Ten Mom Networks by voting in our POLL. (note: you can vote for more than one) And if we omitted your favorite, please provide us with that feedback in the comment section. Happy Mother's Day!