Erin (right) and Kristin Brandt at the 2012 Manic Mommies Escape in Savannah, Ga. (yes, they’re in a pink Camaro).
After the birth of her second son in 2004, Erin left her full-time PR job in public television to start her own publicity consultancy. At the time, podcasts and blogs were just emerging, and she predicted they would become wildly popular. What she didn’t anticipate was just how important “mommy blogs” would become to brands looking to connect with mothers too busy to consume traditional media. In 2005, she and her then-neighbor Kristin Brandt launched “Manic Mommies” as a weekly podcast for moms juggling careers, children, husbands, and housework. What started on a whim one Saturday morning has quickly become a wildly popular online destination for women looking for helpful tips, parenting advice and support. The podcast and the annual weekend “Escape” for listeners is sponsored by Chevrolet. Erin now lives in upstate New York with her husband and sons who are 9 and 11. She works in higher education and records the podcast with Kristin each week.
Mommy blogs, heavenly disconnection, and on raising good digital citizens
What was your first experience with social media?
“My first experience with social media really was podcasting. I recorded my first podcast before I wrote my first blog post. Once I got the podcast recorded and people reached out to say they enjoyed listening, I realized what a powerful tool the Internet was, especially for connecting like-minded moms from all over the world. I heard from listeners living all over the world—China, Japan, France, and in Africa, to name just a few places. Many moms reached out to say they appreciated our frank and honest talk about the challenges of returning to work after baby, finding quality day care, trying to breastfeed, etc. Once we got the podcast figured out, we started blogging which led to several paid blogging gigs over the years. For almost three years I wrote on parenting topics for RealSimple.com and I enjoyed that very much. But I always had a hard time dealing with negative or mean-spirited comments.”
What do you like about social media?
“I love that social media allows anyone to be a publisher or content provider. It also has provided a means for me to stay in touch with people I know I would have lost touch with otherwise. I appreciate that I can get information that’s tailored to my interests 24/7.”
What do you dislike about social media?
“The list of what I don’t like is actually longer. I don’t like that children are growing up with social media. They have a skewed sense of privacy and I find it so hard to set limits. My 11-year-old is constantly asking for some app that a friend is using and it gets exhausting saying no. On top of the usual demands of parenting, we now must become well-versed in every new app or gadget that comes along, even if we personally have no desire to use them. Ever heard of Snapchat? Moms, you need to know about this one! My husband would prefer I just take away all electronics, and believe me I have days when I want to, but I also recognize this is the world we live in and it’s my job to teach my kids how to be good digital citizens. I also don’t like the rants on social media. There are people (mostly former work colleagues or business acquaintances ) who continue to surprise me with some of the things they post. You think you know someone and then you come across something that makes you wonder which is the more genuine person: the one from real life or the one on Facebook?”
What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?
“I think it would be heavenly.”
If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?
“Handle. With. Care.”
Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?
“I’m a big fan of the ladies behind Cool Mom Picks. I think they have built a unique and solid brand and I am always getting good tidbits from them.” Cool Mom Picks
I want to thank Erin for taking the time to talk with me about her opinions on, and experience with, social media.
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