If you’re an MBMom with a Facebook account and live in South Florida, chances are you’re part of the Facebook group: Mamarama. The closed group (as of press time) currently has 23,000+ members and is intended to serve, and I quote, as a “forum that connects local mothers.”
Members of the group ask questions from what products to buy for a newborn to where they should get their hair colored in Margate to the best general contractors in Deerfield Beach. Sometimes, children’s health questions are asked. It’s an open, no holds barred, ongoing discussion amongst local moms.
Mamarama also has a sister forum on Facebook for selling baby and kid gear, Mama Market, that has 21,000+ members. These are huge groups!
I became a member of both Mamarama and Mama Market myself a few months ago (after hearing about the group from some Boca mom friends) and I personally have been equally impressed and shocked by some of the content and subsequent reactions that have taken place in this forum, giving way to the group’s nickname: Mamadrama. (Ed note: I have since been removed from both groups.)
My whole parenting mentality is: As moms, we’re all in this together, but some of the things that have been posted? Whoa!
One of the main “dramas” that got my attention was that the founder of Mamarama was being accused of allegedly monetizing the Facebook group without disclosing that fact to members.
So, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to contact the founder and admin, Lauren Bell Leslie, for an EXCLUSIVE interview to find out the real story behind Mamarama.
Thank you, Lauren, for agreeing to this interview. So Mamarama…
Most would say that this mommy group is a helpful South Florida online community. Others have claimed that it has become a forum for moms to engage in interpersonal “drama.” When you started Mamarama, what was your intent?
The group was created 4 years ago for personal reasons. I am a mother of amazing boy/girl twins and I found myself calling my pediatrician for every question I had when they were born (which was about 3 times a day!)
My friends’ children were older at that point, and the moms I met I had no regular contact with because my children were too young for traditional “mommy and me” classes. One day, I had an idea to connect the moms I knew who had young kids in a Facebook group, so we could all interact and have a virtual space to exchange stories, seek advice and just vent about the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
And from there, Mamarama was born!
Lauren Bell Leslie
My intention from the beginning was to connect local mothers, so when we had a question we could speak with like minded women who lived in the same area and could relate to geographically and demographically.
The need was there, and the group grew organically. Mamarama has turned into the “go to” space to ask questions regarding things like local happenings, doctor recommendations, stroller recommendations and just about any question a 21st century mother has. The group is not a place for gossips (or nonsense).
Even though many would say that it has become just that?
Regarding “Mamadrama”, the nickname some of the members have called the group. There is a small amount of human nature that feeds off seeing conflict and aversion– that’s why Star Magazine is so popular.
The group is monitored closely, but due to the way Facebook is set up, posts can only be deleted once they are posted. Of course members are free to speak their minds regarding answering a question, but Mamarama cannot control people’s thoughts and feelings. Members are removed if they engage in foul language or behavior which is offensive.
Regarding the issue that piqued my personal curiosity: Monetizing Mamarama. Once your group started growing so much (and fast), did you decide then that you might want to turn it into a business?
I don’t monetize the group currently.
Mamarama is more of a public service initiative for me right now than a business. I won’t say that I haven’t personally promoted products myself in the past, but currently the group is just a group.
But, Mamarama is an LLC. Therefore, you must have business ambitions i.e. advertising for the group?
I will say this. Members are not allowed to advertise for the mere reason that there are over 23,000 members and if even 10% of the members were on the group for self gain and posted daily, there would be 1,500 posts clogging up members’ news-feeds. It’s not a place for self gain, in fact to the contrary, it’s a place where moms can help each other.
As far as the future of Mamarama, the name is trademarked, an LLC has been formed and Mamarama owns the domain www.mamarama.com. At this moment, it would not be prudent to disclose plans for the future.
How do you handle difficult personalities in Mamarama?
I’ll be honest- I can’t sit in front of a computer 24 hours a day, monitoring everything that is said in Mamarama. Members have tagged me in posts or messaged me if they think I need to moderate something specific and I do respond accordingly.
I also delete members if they’re being abusive to another member, or antagonistic. But, I won’t delete everyone who has an opinion, because that wouldn’t be fair or justified.
Like you said, you’re a mom yourself. Do you actively participate in Mamarama as a poster or moderator?
Mamarama is MY go to for questions I have about my children.
I post often, and am always pleasantly surprised with the real, raw feedback I receive from the other moms. Years ago, moms smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol and ate tuna from a can during pregnancy.
Pregnancy and raising children in the 21st century in a different ball game. There are suitable car seats, various bottles to choose from, bottle sterilizes, debates on crib bumpers, preschools, swim instructors, specialists to use, after school activities, and the list goes on and on.
We all want to make the best choices for our children and there is no manual for parenting, but especially in the local area. I am always thankful when I receive answers to inquiries I post. It warms my heart to see that ultimately we are just moms trying to help each other.
MBMoms- are you a member of Mamarama or Mama Market? Tell us how you use the Facebook groups in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: My interview with Lauren Bell Leslie was conducted via email and over the phone in July 2014. All personal images and the Mamarama logo were given to Modern Boca Mom from Ms. Leslie personally. Since then, Modern Boca Mom/Michelle Olson-Rogers has been removed from Mamarama by Ms. Leslie. Typical.