New Parents Turn to Online Communities for Support

BY Rachel Cagle
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"New parenthood is exciting — but it can also be isolating," according to an article by Facebook IQ. "Questions sprout as soon as parents find out they’re expecting, but many wait to discuss their news with family and friends until after the first trimester. Once the word is out, expecting parents may be too tired or busy with baby prep to connect in person with their social circles. And after baby arrives? Forget about that book club or basketball game. Parents are in survival mode." That's why many parents turn to online communities.

The Importance of Online Communities for New Parents

New parents often struggle to land on their feet during the first few months to a year with their new child or children. They need help and advice. Online communities offer them both of these. And according to data from Facebook, "the average U.S. millennial in a parent group is in more than 3x as many Facebook groups as the average U.S. millennial group user who is not in a parent group."

According to AudienceSCAN, 46.4% of Parents of Newborns/​Toddlers are between the ages of 25 and 34.

But why turn to online communities instead of books or their loved ones and professionals? One of the main reasons is accessibility. Many new parents would feel guilty about calling someone in the middle of the night or early in the morning with a question about childcare. And it can be difficult to find an exact answer in a lengthy book. Online communities, on the other hand, are available to new parents all day every day and offer them the ability to ask specific questions to the group.

Another reason new parents love online communities is the connections they form with others. It's no secret that new parents don't get to go out much. And if their friends don't have kids of their own yet, it could be more difficult to connect with them about how life has been changing. Other parents in online communities can fill the connection void.

"Most expecting and new parents surveyed in the U.S. are part of an online group or community, and parenting and buy-​and-​sell groups are particularly popular," reports Facebook IQ. "Parenting groups offer advice and empathy; buy-​and-​sell and exchange groups provide parents a chance to save money or offload used items babies quickly outgrow."

AudienceSCAN reports that the majority of new parents are members of at least one social network. Approximately 82% participate on Facebook, 57.4% use YouTube and 51% are on Instagram. Additionally, 50.3% of this group has used a mobile device to purchase a product online within the last six months.

Both parents are equally likely to join online communities. However, both tend to be interested in different types. Mothers, for example are 1.7 times more likely than fathers to join parenting-​related online communities, while dads would rather join online buy-​and-​sell groups to find baby supplies and furniture for cheap.

"Facebook's survey showed that over time, parents increasingly said they were likely to use Facebook to get recommendations from family and friends for products and services. The percentage of parents who said they use Instagram on a daily basis and to get recommendations from family and friends for products and services held steady across the four groups studied."

"Shopping interests and patterns around online research evolve throughout the four stages of early parenthood, the survey showed," according to Facebook IQ. "Early on, expecting and new parents tend to turn to social media for information on parenting-​related topics and products. This could mean information on Lamaze classes or the most effective nausea remedies. Later, after the pregnancy passes certain milestones, they go into nesting mode, and turn to social media for information on baby-​related products and services such as toys and diaper delivery."

Social media is also a good way to advertise to new parents. According to AudienceSCAN, 62% of this group took action after seeing an ad on a social network within the past year. They're also 30% more likely than other adults to have taken action in the last 12 months after seeing an ad on a mobile smartphone app or after receiving an ad via text message. TV is also a good way to target the Parents of Newborns/​Toddlers, as 63.2% of them took action after seeing a TV commercial within the last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.