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New Dads Are Big-Time Social Media Users

Marketers targeting dads should reach out to them as parents first, dads second

While moms used to be the social network standard-bearer of the family, fathers—particularly first-time fathers—are engaging in the same types of social media activities that new moms enjoy, according to a February 2012 survey by Edelman and The Parenting Group. The study showed that 42% of new US dads who use social networks write family-related status updates on a daily basis. It further found that 56% of new dads post family photos at least a few times a week, while 21% post family-related videos.

The study defined “new” dads as those whose oldest child was age 2 or younger. The results were similar for the survey’s overall population of US dads with at least one child under the age of 12.

There was even one area in which dads were actually ahead of their female counterparts: Millennial dads have more online friends than millennial moms. These dads reported an average of 96 online friends, while moms averaged only 70.

The results don’t surprise Mark Wildman, vice president and group publisher of magazine and digital media company The Parenting Group. Pointing out that one out of six fathers are stay-at-home dads, he said that male parents today are more likely to view themselves in a broader way than they did in the past. “I don’t just view myself as a provider,” Wildman, the father of preschool twin girls and a younger boy, told eMarketer. “The nurturing, the cooking, the food buying—I am doing it in partnership with my wife.”

Indeed, even shopping activities like following brands on social networks, long considered the purview of the woman of the house, are being embraced by dads. A study by Arbitron and Edison Research found that, even over a year ago, in February 2011, US dads on social networks were catching up to moms, with 25% following a brand.

How should marketers reach these new dads on social networks? Present messages as a “mosaic,” Wildman said, drawing on his own experience with the Parenting.com site. “The parent should feel like whatever he [the dad] is doing, who he is and his method of parenting will resonate because the advertiser isn’t defining what the roles are in the family.”

Instead the advertiser should communicate “the essence of the brand in a thoughtful way that demonstrates that it’s an enabler of a lifestyle,” Wildman advised. “You can mention a brand, but it cannot dominate the conversation.”

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Check out today’s other articles, “Companies Incorporate Social Media Monitoring into Bottom Line” and “Smartphones Concentrated Among the Wealthy in China.”

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