Siobhan Freegard on Building an MCN for Moms

/ Feb 16, 2015

Channel Mum Founder Siobhan Freegard 2-16-15

Siobhan Freegard started Netmums, a digital hub for mothers, when she was a new mom and realized there weren’t any websites out there specifically for mothers (as you can imagine, that was a while back–her kids are a lot older now). Thus, UK-based Freegard’s online community (“built by moms, for moms,” she explained) grew to its current state as an established forum, resource, and outlet for mothers. She decided it was time to “hand Netmums on to an experienced team who can manage and nurture it going forward.”

So Freegard needed a new project, one that came about in part due to an internet experience she had with a younger mom that showed the her the immense popularity of online video for millennials–including millennial moms. Hence the birth of Channel Mum, an MCN that follows in the footsteps of Netmums (“by moms, for moms”) but takes the form of videos on YouTube instead of written words.

Who were some of the mom creators who inspired you to do this?

In all honesty, it wasn’t a creator who inspired me. It was three separate things.  Firstly, watching my children following the big gaming vloggers, such as Pewdiepie and StampyLongHead, gave me a window into the world of YouTube creators, but I initially assumed it was all for kids. Then, I had a light bulb moment when I observed the difference in reactions from me (in my forties) and a younger mom friend (in her late twenties) when we were searching for a recipe together. I went to the text based results, and she went to the video results. My thoughts were, “I don’t have time to watch a video,” whereas hers were, “I don’t have time to read all those words.” It was my realization that the way we want our information has literally changed in less than a generation, from text to video.

And finally, when I went to do an audit of Mom-content on YouTube, I was both shocked and inspired by the chasm between the huge amount of content, creators, destinations, and networks in all the other sectors: food, beauty, music, sport, tech, and that created for or by moms.

There are some great mom creators, but (in the UK, anyway), they are very fragmented and there is no route for viewers to find them. The YouTube search engine doesn’t offer any confidence–try searching breastfeeding on YouTube, and you are drawn into a world of, at best, odd and at worst, thinly disguised x-rated content.

YouTube audiences have grown up and are having kids, and we need to fill this content gap for millennial moms.

Mothers on YouTube represent a different kind of creator from your average YouTube vlogger. What are the specific characteristics that make a mom creator worth watching?

When you become a mom, your priorities change. You become less focused on yourself and more on how you can do the best job you can as a mother. It is also a time when women can feel emotionally vulnerable, so most moms like advice and information that is delivered in a kind, friendly manner. Above all, we value honesty. There is no such thing as a perfect mother, and there is nothing more off-putting or unauthentic as someone pretending to be!

Sometimes, in the middle of the chaos, you just need to step back and laugh! There is a real sense of camaraderie and humor in the crazy world of parenting.

Will working with brands be a big part of Channel Mum?

Yes, a huge part of my background is working with brands that want to speak to moms. In the UK, it is well researched that moms make 85% of household buying decisions, and I suspect it isn’t too different in the US. Moms genuinely don’t mind talking to brands and listening to what they have to say–after all, we’re choosing which brands to buy–but moms also like to be listened to and collaborated with, so our brand partnership strategy will include all of those elements. The key is in the word “partnership.” It has to be a partnership between the brand, the creators, and the audience…and one that feels authentic.

How do you choose which emerging mum talent to work with, and what kind of tools do you provide them with?

As I mentioned, there are some great mom-focused creators, but not enough! So we are looking for 100 brand new creators during 2015, who will be selected by a panel of judges based on their idea for their channel and their raw talent in front of the camera.  By partnering these new mom vloggers with existing creators, we will nurture a whole new generation of creators. I see my role as a mentor for our creators, with the Channel Mum team behind them, too.

We will provide them with equipment, support, information, training, and access to experts. And of course we’ll be bringing brand partnership opportunities to the established creators, too.

Why Channel Mum? Do you think Channel Dad wouldn’t work as well?

I was asked this question so many times at NetMums and the answer is still the same! I am a mum, my team is made up of mums, and my audience is mums. I know moms! I think a dad could do a dad version, although in my experience men look for different information. They tend to look for more practical information, whereas women like to share emotions and experiences.

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