Building a village can be a challenge. The 4th Trimester is exhausting, and the many roles and responsibilities leave little time and energy to put into making new connections. Social media can be a valuable tool to meet families. Many groups share uplifting, positive messages. Here are a few tips for finding new parents, making connections online, and potentially creating a virtual online village of support.
Keyword Search: Finding a community online might start with tips from friends or your health care team. You can also explore sites like Facebook with a keyword search. Whichever social media platform you use, there are keywords that will help you find and connect with the people or organizations. Once you’ve typed in your keywords (example below), be sure you filter your search to only show you what you’re looking for (i.e., click to only see groups or pages). Online groups are focused on questions and answers and pages are for sharing articles and images.
Example: In the Facebook search bar, you can type “Mom Group”+”Insert your town” to see a list of mom groups nearby. You can filter your search to only show groups, rather than all pages or posts. Try a few different types of searches to see what different types of groups are out there – near you or nationally.
Location Search: Almost all social media platforms include a location-based feature that allows you to see what’s happening around you. This allows you to see events, learn about local organizations, and find family-friendly activities. Location-based searches also permit you to see who is around you as well. Facebook has an algorithm that indicates people you might know, events you might like, and organizations you might want to follow based on what you are searching for online. You can use the keyword search to find local events you might be interested.
Example: Using keyword search, Try typing something like “Mom Park Date”+”Insert your town.” You can filter your search to show you events. If you click that you are interested in an upcoming local event, you’ll start to see similar events suggested in your newsfeed. If you attend that event, or tag yourself into an event using Facebook, you can see who else is going and who else attended the event.
TIP: a good way to finding parent meet-ups is through Facebook groups. If you don’t see any listed, don’t be shy to ask the group for suggestions! Not on Facebook? It might be worth making an account so you can connect with others.
Hashtag Search: Whether you are using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or another social media app, a great way to find families in your area are through the use of hashtags. A hashtag is used to pull all messages into one conversation stream. Especially on Instagram and Twitter, finding new parents that are interested in similar activities can be done through hashtags.
Example: in the Instagram search bar, type in “NYCMoms” or “Insert your town + Parents” to see who has used that hashtag recently. This may take a few tries until you are familiar with popular hashtags for your area. Try using “#”+”your city”+”moms” (i.e., #DurhamMoms).
Tip: Try searching for your town as a hashtag. It will show all the public photos, so you can see some families in your town.
Joining Groups and Conversations: Many Facebook groups are private, so you’ll have to request to join. Sometimes the admins of the group will require you answer a couple of questions to show that you are local (example: listing two streets in your town). Once you’ve found a group, it can be nice to introduce yourself to the community. This allows others to reach out to you as well, to explore connecting around shared journeys. Typical introductions are a short post that mentions your name, age of your child, and any relevant information about you that you want the Facebook community to know. If you are in a private group, you’ll be able to see other people in the group and the conversations happening. Even though you are in a private group, it will show that you are a member of the group on your Facebook page, but only the people who are in the group will see your posts.
Tip: If you find a parent that you are interested in reaching out to, it is easy to send a message that just says, “Hello, I see we have babies around the same age, and I would love to connect with you. My name is INSERT. I am new to the Facebook group and hoping to meet others in our area.”
New App Connects Local Moms: There are some apps that connect local parents, like the new Peanut mobile app. The Peanuts app is a location-based app that will introduce you to other mothers in your area based off of your top interest, your kids’ age, and distance from one another. In the app, you can also ask questions to a community and plan meet ups using their forum feature. You can link your Facebook or Instagram accounts, so you and the moms you meet can follow each other and get to know each other a bit better on social media before you plan your meet up.
Do you know of a local app or social media group in your area? Tell us, and be sure to invite other new mothers you meet to join!
Resources to Explore: