First Pandora, Now Toyota Solicits Mom Bloggers?

Where is the future of mom blogging headed? How will the consumers be able to differentiate between the "real" reviews and "paid reviews"?

Last week for Social Media Week 2011 in New York there was confusion about a panel of mom bloggers hosted by Pandora. Pandora, who just filed for IPO, is a fast growing online music streaming service and generally well respected in the industry but the panel gave the first glimpse of the possibility of mom bloggers being “pimped out.”

A tidal wave of backlash followed: are mom bloggers easily bribed? Will the powerful influence of mom bloggers be quickly discredited? Where is the line between partnership and sponsorship? All good questions to ask in an area that has seen uber growth in the last two years. What is the future of mom blogging?

Now before getting pummeled with criticism, I am in fact one of the largest supporters of mom networks. My startup, ConsumerBell, is building out features to help make product safety information easier to get and share. We work with mom networks on a daily basis and respect all the opportunities that have come from moms being real with one another and taking the courage to just put it out there on the interwebs. I love mom bloggers and if there is ever anything I can to be of support, just email me, consider it done. Yet, I worry that the backbone of mom blogging can be easily lost if there is any lack of transparency.

The internet is a big and powerful place. Branding and trust can take months if not years to build and taken away over night.

Shelly DeMotte Kramer, mom blogger and marketing expert, posted this note yesterday about a blogger that “went rogue” which she discovered via DearCrissy, a blog dedicated to moms as well. Since then Toyota has denied any involvement but there is definitely shadyness surrounding MommyNetworks which apparently hosted the offer that posting positive reviews about Toyota could get the bloggers Amazon gift cards.

The point here is that a majority of mom bloggers are changing the way commerce is done online, how social media reaches its audience, and quite frankly in a stunning fashion taking the traditional “woman’s place” and shifting in a way that creates businesses, balances family, and rocks traditional economy. Huge fan, but with all this power and how fast information travels on the web, mom bloggers need to be very careful.

What are your thoughts? Should moms be weary of corporate affiliation or can there truly be a balanced, mutually beneficial relationship?