There’s much to love about Heather the creator of Our Kids Mom. Heather met her husband as a 16 year old while working at the local mall’s burger joint. Her husband flipped burgers and Heather worked the cash register. The two are still happily married 24 years later. On her blog at OurKidsMom Heather provides engaging stories about her life in western Missouri. She is 3rd grade teacher turned stay at home mom with four children: Ethan (three years old) Emma (four years old), Joshua (fourteen years old) and Kaytlin (nineteen years old). She spends her free time (aka nap time) blogging about her children, sharing an occasional deal and writing about great products she’s had a chance to try. In this community spotlight we hear from Heather about how it makes her day to open an email from a reader who just won a product that they normally could not afford, and much more.

What inspired you to start your community?

I originally started OurKidsMom so that I had a place to post pictures and little tidbits about the kids for our extended family on the west coast. I didn’t start review blogging for nearly six months. One day I stumbled on a Facebook post from one of my favorite bloggers asking for a few more blogs to join a child themed giveaway hop. I answered her via private message and although I had never done anything like it, they graciously invited me to join them. That group of women encouraged me and gave me a few important pieces of advice that helped launch my relationship with brands.

Why is your community meaningful for you?

I have always been a word of mouth opinion sharer. Having the blog to post my opinion as well as photos to substantiate my thoughts has been an enjoyable experience for me. My readers have come to know that I can be brutally honest when need be but I always try to find the good points in everything as well.

What do your members value?

My members value detailed honesty. I do not and will not promote a product or company I cannot stand behind. My members also know that they can find me on a daily basis to chat on OurKidsMom’s Facebook wall.

What has been your experience engaging with brands in the past?

I have been communicating with brands and their reps on a daily basis for the past (almost) two years. I have been very aware of the storytelling I’ve done with Linqia and enjoy sharing the content.

What are your future goals for your community?

I intend to continue with sharing my thoughts through product reviews and sharing the love with giveaways. It truly makes my day to open an email from a reader who just won a product that they normally could not afford, but will genuinely enjoy. I used to enter giveaways on a daily basis and I clearly remember the excitement of a winning email and love that I can do that for my readers.

How do you feel Linqia can serve your needs?

Linqia allows me to share information about brands I believe in with a little kickback for my efforts. To date, my favorites have been Green Works and Dasani because of their efforts to clean and be green.

*You can learn more about Heather on her Facebook Page.

About the Opportunity for Communities:

At Linqia we are on a mission to increase the visibility of quality communities like yours among brands. Through Linqia brands engage with your community by providing you valuable content that’s appealing to your community members. We then recognize and reward you for doing so. If you’d like to register your community to the Linqia platform please fill out this simple form.


Did you know that 54% of women try on at least ten pairs of jeans to find even one pair that fits?

Shopping is an emotional activity for people—and shopping for that perfect pair of jeans can be a difficult task, especially for moms who want to feel comfortable in their clothes without losing their sense of style.

Levi’s took note that one jean size in no way fits all—especially for new moms—and came up with Curve ID, a way for women to build their own jeans according to their shape, a friendlier measurement to the traditional size metric.

What is Curve ID?

Meet Sarah James, a mother of two who has an engaged community who follow her blog Whoorl where she talks about everything from beauty, to food, to raising children, and more.

Sarah’s story is relevant for a few reasons.

One of them is the fact that Sarah is a mom blogger. More and more moms are building a life for themselves from their home office—where they can keep one eye on their children while pursuing their passion and earning income.

Brands like Levi’s know they need to earn trust with the Sarahs of the world through relevant individualized products, and messaging that’s pure and honest.

If you’re like me you DVR most of your favorite shows because you hate advertising. But, this piece of content that focuses on Sarah’s story I really enjoyed watching. In fact I’ve watched a few of these different Curve ID short stories.

“Content Marketing”

What Levi’s created is the opposite of what has been termed “content marketing” as defined by David Spark of Spark Media Solutions. Spark wrote in article “Why we should stop using the term ‘content marketing.”

Spark says, “There is no “marketing.” When you create content to inform and educate, you’re providing answers that may fulfill a step in the sales process, and you may be strengthening trust of your brand, but that’s true of all content…. The name ‘content marketing’ assumes a sales pitch within the content. If there was a sales pitch in the content it would be called ‘advertising.’”

Spark has a solid point. Brands need to inform, engage, entertain and inspire. All brands make themselves attractive to the community by listening and serving its community [based on the needs of the community].

When we say “community” we don’t just mean one general group. Just like the women who shop for jeans, a one size fits all approach will not work. There are hundreds of thousands of variations on community shape. Just as Levi’s did with Curve ID, content and approach should be curved according to the needs of that particular community.

“As I was rocking my daughter Tahlia to sleep, I felt an overwhelming sadness that brought me to tears. I thought of all the Haitian mothers who were in chaos and darkness,” said Janine Cuthbertson, founder of the Moms for Moms Communities after the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January of 2010.

A ten year Colorado resident, she once lived in Miami and worked with Haitian students.
She was one of many moms in her community who felt disconnected to what was happening abroad and frustrated that she could not immediately offer help to these Haitian families.

Janine decided to take action by organizing a local relief effort. She needed a way to organize with her local community, and leveraged a local email distribution list.

As she carried out relief effort she grew frustrated with the limitations of email. After the Haiti relief effort was over Janine was inspired to find a better way to accommodate communication across the mom community.

Eventually Janine launched the Carbondale Moms for Moms community. This central hub became the go to place for discussion, community awareness and family support.

Janine working with the community to organize a relief effort

Janine’s story shows the power of passionate communities. Janine–the community organizer–provides a truly local experience for her members.

Janine’s community is bursting with user-generated content by moms for moms. She is the guardian of the community and cares about the user experience of each member and the overall integrity of the site.

The original Carbondale Moms for Moms community made traction so fast Janine was inspired to create more communities, and now the Carbondale Moms for Moms community is one of 9 thriving communities. All of these communities are run by moms local to the area of the community.

Janine’s story is a familiar one.

Gatekeepers of communities all over the web don’t want to inundate their community members with advertising. They are concerned with protecting the group. The community must always be a safe space where people can openly congregate around their passion without the interruptions of advertising.

At Linqia we feel influential community organizers like Janine are the future of the web.

We believe brands can earn entree into these communities only through meaningful, authentic content and experiences.

Only then will brands engage communities like Janine’s in the far corners of the social web.

It’s well known that Social Networking Activity is growing enormously worldwide.

An interesting study provided by Datamonitor predicts within the next four years there will be 107 millions members of Social Networks in Europe – compared to a current total of 41,7 mio Europeans.

The European Ranking is:
No 1: UK is the leader with 6 million users growing up to 27,1 mio in 2012.
No 2: France follows with current 8,9 mio users increasing up to 21,3 mio in 2012.
No 3: Germany currently has 8,6 mio users growing up to 21,7 mio of users in 2012.
No 4: Spain has 2,9 Social Network users and is very likely to reach 7,3 mio within the next four years.

This enormous growth introduces significant opportunities for today’s marketers assuming that they have the right strategies in place. Marketers who would like to be successful need to know which kinds of advertising formats are effective within Social Networks.

The survey Community Effects 2008 has verified that sponsored music, viral videos and games are most accepted by community members. “A particularly promising strategy is a combination of decently communicated advertising messages, a high fun factor and the possibility to communicate indirectly with other users.”

More than every second questioned participant evaluates music-clips (59%) and video-campaigns (51%) as a throughout positive advertising medium. On the contrary, most community users reject classic contests (30 %) and implored Flash-Layers (31 %).

From the 1.7 billion people online, 4.4% of time is spent searching and 27.8% is spent in online communities. What’s astonishing about these figures, is that where people spend time online, with the exception of online communities, is decreasing rapidly. And yet, the billions of advertising dollars are injected into search.

Mark Zuckerberg put his finger on it. He recently said “Communities already exist. Instead, think about how you can help that community do what it wants to do.”

So what exactly does a community want to do? Simple. Every community wants to maximise the quality of experience of as many members as possible. This could be achieved through vibrant, active discussions, compelling and engaging content, sponsorships and partnerships with access to exclusive offerings, opportunities to get to know other members. The list goes on.

Recently at the Lift2010 conference in Geneva, 37 curious people gained insights into how brands can successfully participate in multiple online communities that may not necessarily be their own. This is virgin territory and whilst brands are sold on the concept, they lack the ‘how’.

The presentation and video explore:
• Evolution of online communities
• Approaches brands have taken to engage with online communities
• Opportunities and challenges brands face when engaging with online communities

Online Communities: How brands are edging their way into the heart of the conversation 

View more presentations from Maria Sipka.Lift10 brands and communities from netinfluenceChannel on Vimeo.Thanks to Nicolas Fermont from NetInfluence who whipped this video together in 10 minutes.