By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
At this point, I'm thinking, "Man, being a celebrity blogga-mama is where it's at: I'd get free samples of all my favorite stuff, counseling from strangers, big brands would want to pay me just to stay at home in my PJs and write about that time I money-shot my baby in the face with my own boob milk [for the record, that was the straw that made the camel switch to formula]. Sounds like all the good parts of celebrity without the creepy underbelly part."
And that's when Armstrong started talking about the creepy underbelly part: A hate site that had just been taken down that trashed her every blog post every single day for three years. Every time she posted something, they posted a hateful response. Just straight mean stuff like, "Your kid's ugly," and "You're a horrible mom." Armstrong had plans to meet up with a woman who'd been following her on Twitter. Just before she went out to meet the follower, she realized that the woman had been participating in this hate site and had said something about wanting to physically hurt her. So yeah, cancelled that coffee date.
Armstrong admits her blog is pretty polarizing—that's what made her popular in the first place. She stands out because she doesn't say that parenting is pretty and she drops the occasional F-bomb. But to hear that she had stalkers in the past and that there are moms out there who hate her was shocking. I mean, it's a mom blog, people. Was it the hi-res close-ups of an infant that made you go ape-shit? No, it was those damned letters to her daughter she's been writing for six years? Everybody knows her daughter can't even read! At least the crazies showing up is a sign that Armstrong is officially a legit celebrity.
But her influence doesn't just stop with her blog readers. What Armstrong says on Twitter is read by millions of people (probably including some crazies and some penile enhancer spammers). And advertisers are fully aware of her potential to persuade those millions.
Emily Voigt, director of public relations at Moroch Dallas, says, "What intrigues big brands about working with a mom blogger is that the partnership gets them direct access to the moms they've been trying to talk to for years. On the other hand, they have a fear of partnering with these mom bloggers because they hold so much influence over so many."
Armstrong did get some backlash for what she refers to as "The Maytag Incident." In August of last year, she was preparing for the arrival of her second child, and she figured buying a new washing machine was probably a good idea. (If you don't know, newborn baby humans dump a lot.) So, she buys the top-of-the-line Maytag and two weeks in, the thing breaks. She calls a repair guy, and after many weeks of broken washing machine, she calls corporate to complain. After talking to two different people there and getting nowhere, she finally had had enough:
"And here's where I say, 'Do you know what Twitter is? Because I have over a million followers on Twitter. If I say something about my terrible experience on Twitter, do you think someone will help me?' And [the woman from Maytag] says in the most condescending tone and hiss ever uttered, 'Yes, I know what Twitter is. And no, that will not matter.""
So Armstrong hung up the phone and wrote this tweet:
"So that you may not have to suffer like we have: DO NOT EVER BUY A MAYTAG. I repeat: OUR MAYTAG EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE."
And three minutes later she tweeted:
"Have I mentioned what a nightmare our experience was with Maytag? No? A TOTAL NIGHTMARE."
And six minutes later:
"That brand new washing machine from MAYTAG? That someone has been out to fix three times? STILL BROKEN. DO NOT BUY MAYTAG."
And another three minutes later:
"Oh, also. I have a newborn. So we do, what, three loads of laundry a day? Except, our brand new washing machine IS BROKEN. DO NOT BUY MAYTAG."
And then three minutes after that, her final post on the subject:
"RIP: OUR BRAND NEW MAYTAG WASHING MACHINE."
Her posts were re-tweeted countless times, and the S did indeed hit the F. Because of Armstrong's posts, a group of mom bloggers flipped their collective shit. But not at Maytag—at Armstrong. They were mad at her for using her power for her own personal gain. For using her voice to actually get something done. Really? These women had zero influence over big brands for so many years and expect one of their own to be silent when she finally has the power to stick it to The Man? That's like having X-ray vision and not using it to find out what Gary Coleman's packin'. And it's not like she was asking for a free washer. She was just asking Maytag to do their freaking job.
And they did do their job the very next day. Armstrong received a call from the execs at Whirlpool, Maytag's owner, and someone came out and fixed her washing machine. And she thanked them profusely. Even on the World Wide Web.