I was contacted this week by a journalist working on an article on the evolution of soccer moms. In her research, the reporter came across my HuffPost piece in which I coined the term Facebook Moms and made this prediction: The new most powerful voting block in America will soon be called Facebook Moms. Facebook Moms will replace Mama Grizzlies, who replaced NASCAR Dads, who replaced Soccer Moms.
The reporter was intrigued and requested a quote for her article. I thought her request was reason enough to expand upon the prediction now that we are into the 2012 election cycle.
Facebook Moms have the potential to become one of the most powerful political forces of all time because of the growing impact of social media. Social media has quickly evolved from an interesting game into a transformational force. It's the muscle that makes this new reality so powerful -- we now trust "people like me" more than any expert, doctor, journalist, advertising campaign or elected official.
Moms (the ultimate social advocates) now understand that most experts and all spokespersons, celebrities and advertisers have a conflict (usually financial) that diminishes, destroys or distorts the value of their opinion. Social media enables moms to connect directly with "people like me" to exchange opinions, observations and evaluations without the tainted filter of corporate, government or institutional involvement.
The desire to both receive and disburse the unvarnished truth has led a large number of mothers to start their own blogs. A recent report from Scarborough Research estimates that 14 percent of American mothers (more than 4 million women) have read or contributed to a blog in the past 30 days. And here's where it gets really interesting. 76 percent of mommy bloggers say they "always" vote in presidential elections. And talk about the ultimate swing vote -- 29 percent of mom bloggers identify themselves as Democrats, 25 percent as Republicans, 29 percent as Independents and 17 percent choose none of these labels to describe themselves.
Facebook Moms and Twitter Moms are the new soccer moms because this is where their blogs are promoted, their ideas are shared and their connections are made; first with friends and then friends of friends and then groups of "people like me." This virtual connection is far more powerful and influential than the connection soccer moms made on the sidelines because it scales in a way that is unprecedented. New research from eMarketer shows that 23 million U.S. mothers with children under the age of 18 actively use Facebook.
The perfect example of how a few tweets can grow into a major force is the Occupy Wall Street movement. This is a fragmented, leaderless movement that began very slowly and was fueled nearly exclusively by social media. It reportedly began with a single blog post on Adbusters.org on July 13.
The post was liked and shared on Facebook and tweeted and retweeted on Twitter. A grassroots connection was created between "people like me" that eventually included those with large followings and true national voices. When enough of these major influencers are aligned behind a specific cause, they have the capacity to quickly move public opinion.
Facebook and Twitter add an entirely new dimension to networking and moms have proven to be the best networkers of all. Get Facebook and Twitter moms on your side, behind your issue or spreading your agenda and you can change the world.
That said, one has to be increasingly aware of wolves in sheep's clothing. Or, more accurately, marketers in mom's clothing. The power of connection on Facebook and Twitter is so great that advertisers, politicians and special interest groups are becoming very savvy in their efforts to manipulate and leverage the opinions of "people like me." Not all who appear to be "people like me" are actually like you. Professional influencers are infiltrating social groups in an effort to advance the opinions they are paid to espouse.
And, of course, the practice of purchasing editorial endorsement is pervasive in the blogging world. While any blogger worth his or her domain will openly disclose any material connection between an advertiser and a post, many bloggers are not that ethical.
Despite the many opportunities for abuse, social media is now the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to influencing mass opinion. And Facebook and Twitter are the 800-pound gorillas of social media.
Barack Obama leveraged social media in an unprecedented and highly effective manner in the 2008 election. Since then, the techniques and strategies used to employ social media have only become more sophisticated. It's now a powerful tool in the hands of many who know how to wield it. If you want to get elected in 2012, you must win the support of and then facilitate the social media efforts of Facebook Moms and Twitter Moms.
Follow Marc Middleton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarcMiddleton