A few years ago, two bloggers local to the Philadelphia area found each other. Colleen Padilla and Jo-Lynne Shane were both thrilled to discover another local blogger, and soon became good friends. Not too long after that they sent out a public invite for a dinner, and a dozen bloggers showed up.
The rest, as they say, is history, and now the Philly Social Media Moms are a powerful network that is highly sought after by both local and national public relations agencies and brands.
I asked Jo-Lynne about how the group started.
“We just started the google group so we had a place to keep in touch, and it grew. So there was no big inspiration or strategy. It was totally organic. WHICH, truly, is why I think it has been so awesome. Totally inclusive, and totally casual.”
Eventually a website was formed and today there are nearly 200 members, two Facebook groups, a series of scheduled workshops, and a strong, tight knit community that spends a fair amount of time together.
Now for the full disclosure: for the last two years, I’ve been a member of the Philly Social Media Moms. I’ve been amazed by its growth, and how having such a network of bloggers in place is great for local businesses and organizations wanting to work with mom bloggers.
As a group we’ve been to kid’s theater performances, local amusement parks, a local TV studio, attended a taping of Martha Stewart’s show, had members featured on the local news, and much more. Some of us have found clients, writing gigs, helped other members find work, and Colleen even recently wrote a book. But none of those things can compete with the incredible support we have from each other.
It’s rather amazing.
If you’ve considered starting something similar in your community, here a few simple things the Philly Social Media Moms have learned along the way.
Be completely inclusive. Don’t pick one style of blogger over another. In our group we have memoir bloggers, business owners, deal bloggers, coupon bloggers, fashion bloggers, and more. We have found that we ALL have something to offer each other.
Set up some basic ground rules. Jo-Lynne has managed to avoid things like having people become overly sales oriented or pushy in our group by providing a separate place for promotions verses support, and by making sure that the Philly Social Media Moms name isn’t used by group members for their own purposes.
Have regular events. While we all enjoy our online support, it’s being able to get together several times a year that offers the real value. Not only are we able to commiserate on all things blogging and social media, but we get to be moms together too. Worth its weight in gold.
If you’re thinking about launching a similar group, GOOD LUCK! What the Philly Social Media Moms has done is highly commendable, and having a powerful network like this to rely on is spectacular. Never underestimate the power of networking!