Viewpoint: Carrie Longton, co-founder, Mumsnet

  • Read our feature on why brands should be wary of the rise of consumer espionage, here
  • “To catch a thief, it takes a thief” find out why from an ex-hacker, here
  • Find out how brands should deal with online and social problems in our Q&A with Eric Roach chief executive at XYDO, here
  • Discover the attributes of a customer-obsessed company, here


Brands no longer carry out 80% of brand communication. Nowadays, if you find something good or bad, you tell the world. That’s social media for you. Everyone tells everybody everything, all the time.

Certainly in social media, there’s got to be a lot more authenticity and more transparency. In one click, you can be on a company’s website and you can find out all about it.

People also care about the ethics of a company and what they’re doing. We’ve got a whole Family Friendly Programme, which companies are signing up to, that concerns not just their external face, but what’s happening internally, what their policies are.

Those on Mumsnet are curious and want to know what’s going on with brands. Some people say: “Oh Mumsnet, they are quite clever and savvy” and it can be quite scary, but equally it’s very powerful. You get those early adopters on your side and they will do your marketing for you.

While we can still have relatively traditional advertising about whether a particular washing powder works or not, people want to know and experience that for themselves. They’re not going to necessarily just listen to companies telling them stuff.

Consumers are much more likely to listen to a message from each other in social media terms than they are from a brand.


We have a Mumsnet panel of 2,500 members. We recently helped Innocent drinks with the product and packaging of their Kids Juicy Drink. You’re so much more likely to tell people about it and buy it if you’ve been involved with the creation and the marketing too.

You’ve got to see all criticism as an opportunity. This is the TripAdvisor generation. They are used to criticism online. And if it’s sorted out, that miserable experience will become a positive one.

It’s the same on Mumsnet. Someone comes along and says to an electrical goods brand: “That vacuum cleaner’s button is in the wrong place, it will drive people nuts.” The company says: “Crikey, thanks so much, that’s such useful feedback. Would you like to come down and talk to our engineers? They’d love to hear from you. We’re really sorry you felt that way, perhaps we could do this/that.” Suddenly, the fact that someone’s engaged with you and listened to what you’ve said could turn a bad experience into a good one.

But if you’ve got a product that isn’t very good, that isn’t value for money, that isn’t good quality and you’re trying to get a cheap and quick endorsement, it isn’t going to work.



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