August 14/Seattle/PRNewswire -- American moms are hungrier than ever for digital and online recipes, according to a recent study called "Clicks & Cravings: Social Media & Mom." For example, 59% of online moms said they had searched for recipes or food preparation tips on the web or via social media while preparing a meal in the last 30 days.

For food and beverage brands, that translates to major product awareness and trial opportunities, especially since moms are some of the most engaged users of social media. On average, moms – not just active users – spend an average of 18.4 hours per month social networking online, according to the study.

The proprietary study was jointly developed and conducted by consumer research firm The Hartman Group and MSLGROUP Americas. It is the second wave of the broader, landmark study, "Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture."

Moms continue to be most responsible for their family's shopping (87%) and cooking (84%).

"Moms are motivated by meeting family needs, and social media is serving as a way for moms to crowdsource that vital information," said Steve Bryant, director of Food & Beverage, MSLGROUP Americas.

Moms once paged through food and women's magazines as their top sources for food information. Now, moms favor online sources. Almost half are more engaged online and one-third of moms are equally engaged online and in print.

Brand managers take note: Moms are more willing to communicate with brands via Facebook than women with no children (35% vs. 27%). Millennial Moms are even more game (44%).

"Why this openness? The number-one reason a mom will 'like' a food or beverage page on Facebook is to receive discounts or coupons," explained Bryant. "Don't misinterpret all of those 'likes' as love. You have to work for the love, and recipes emerged as the way brands can boost the intimacy-factor in social media engagement with consumers.

"Moms also said they want authenticity and transparency from brands. Deals won't do that for a brand," Bryant added.

The opportunity for recipes appears ripe.  A recently released NPD recipe usage report, "Recipes Are Cooking," found recipe use once a week or more increased from 37% of households in 2005 to 42% in 2011.

Like many American consumers, moms prefer to "crowdsource" food info and recipes rather than rely on their own moms. During the pre- and post-shop experience, they read and contribute to online review resources regularly: 42% read reviews from other users on sites such as Amazon and Yelp, and 23% contribute reviews themselves.

"With 29 million moms visiting social network sites monthly, their ratings and reviews can really boost or bust a product's reputation," advised Caryn Carmer, deputy director of Food & Beverage, MSLGROUP Americas. "This elevates the importance of listening and quickly responding in social media channels."

"We also saw that strongly positive or negative impressions are the ones that most likely prompt review writing, meaning that food and beverage marketers should aim beyond steady satisfaction to deliver more 'wow' experiences that excite reviewers."