Competition between parents: online edition
A generation ago, competition between parents was very much an in-person thing. Your neighbor blocked your path while you were unloading your groceries so she could bring you up to speed on her wonder-child's latest achievements. And the moms at playgroup competed somewhat civilly for bragging rights to whatever title was up for grabs that week: first mother with a baby in the group to sleep through the night, first mother with a baby in the group to crawl, first mother in the group to get pregnant again, intentionally....
These days, much of the down-and-dirty competition between parents has shifted to the online world. If you've ever stumbled upon an online flame war about sleep training methods or breast versus bottle you know exactly what I'm talking about. Opinions get traded back and forth, the conflict starts to escalate, and parents who wouldn't dream of behaving like The Trailer Park Boys' black-sheep relatives in real life start pulling the kinds of shenanigans that can cause hardened parenting community moderators to resign on the spot. And all this because someone has to win a particular parenting war.
Competition can be equally fierce amongst that select group of parent bloggers who treat blogging as a serious pass-time or a business. While the vast majority of bloggers blog because they enjoy it, because it's cheaper than therapy, or because they want to keep far-flung relatives up to date about their lives, some bloggers blog because they hope to attract a significant audience, to turn their blogging activity into some sort of business venture, or both. That's when things can get very competitive in the parenting blogosphere—so competitive that a company has just released a tool that will allow parent bloggers to track how they are doing relative to the competition.
Mike Ferrara, the Vice-President of BIA Information Network, the company which has recently launched the ParentPower Index and Desktop Application, which ranks parent blogs, notes that parent bloggers who rank highly may attract blog advertising and speaking invitations. "Some parent bloggers have a business motive. Some may be competitive. Some may believe they are just darn good bloggers and should be recognized for it. Some may not care at all."
Parent bloggers who are inclined to track rankings and to monitor related stats will find plenty of numbers to track via ParentPower. The index factors in existing rankings and statistics from Technorati, Bloglines, Alexa, Google, Yahoo to calculate its own percentile positioning. It then produces a daily list of the top 200 parenting blogs.
So why would a company that is largely focused in the financial and media sector turn its sites on the world of parenting bloggers? Because there's money to be made, of course.
"Mommy blogs are very popular, but there are so many of them out there now that they are very hard to find," explains Toronto writer and blogging authority Jennifer Lawrence of Bliss Notes. There is good money in packaging the free or very cheap content provided by bloggers by adding a bit of value (such as a search engine, ranking tool, portal)."
Lawrence expects that ParentPower will do well with its model because it has tapped into "Tupperware 2.0"—a willing workforce of moms who are looking for flexible options not offered by corporate America. Competition can be a highly effective fuel to keep that mom-engine churning away. Lawrence explains: "By trying to establish themselves as the authority on mom blogs, they are inviting mommy bloggers to compete for higher rankings. This will mean more bloggers who want to rank well must produce more posts, with more links, and say things to generate more readers."
Lawrence, who is herself the mother of two young children, also notes that the lure of achieving a high ranking or an online blogging award can be significantly motivating to any parent: "Parenting is not the most ego-gratifying job on the planet."