The benefits of CaféMom center on the fact that it targets moms and moms-to-be. CaféMom offers features similar to other social networking Web sites, but with target topics and site features that bring moms together. Moms can voice concerns, express joys, and vent frustrations in their questions, journal posts, and within discussion groups. Plus, with well-known sponsors supporting the site, the company behind CaféMom is perceived as providing established, reputable and safe online communities for moms.
Another benefit for CaféMom members, besides discussions of motherhood and family, is the online friendships and groups that reflect other common interests. For example, suppose you're an expectant mom trying to decide which car seat is best for your baby. You might start by visiting CaféMom looking for articles and product reviews. Then, you may join the site and post a question about a particular car seat that had mixed reviews, hoping to get comments from users about their personal experiences with it in a specific vehicle -- for example, a Toyota Prius. When another mom responds, you might follow up with a discussion about hybrid cars, carbon emissions, improving the environment or your cousin who works for Toyota. From there, you might discover a CaféMom discussion group about ways to conserve natural resources, or just make a new online friend to follow and socialize with at CaféMom. Some online friends even choose to become offline friends as well.
CEO Michael Sanchez identifies CaféMom competitors as the larger social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. These sites have some features for moms, but don't seem as safe or focused on what moms need. A Google search for online networks for moms shows millions of hits, ranging from small privately-run communities to mom-focused groups within larger social network sites. Some sites like TheMommiesNetwork.org, have purchased ads to make their site more prominent in these searches. Besides competing to be seen, though, the sites dont seem to be in direct competition, but instead they each offer a different user experience.
The downsides of CaféMom are similar to other social network Web sites, and sometimes more pronounced. While the site's privacy features and Terms of Service create some level of security, you still need to be cautious about your personal safety while online. Plus, as a mom, you need to be aware of any risks in posting photos and information about your kids. Because CaféMom members could provide false or anonymous information, that awareness extends to meeting your new online friends in an offline setting. For moms and moms-to-be, though, the benefits of finding friends and sharing advice typically far outweighs these risks.
For more about social networking sites and related topics, take a look at the links on the next page.