To be a successful communicator on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more, it’s not just about the quantity of followers you collect—it’s about the impact you choose to have on them and the messages you deliver. For our first Social Media Moms Awards, we’ve chosen 20 working mothers (listed here in alpha order) who’ve harnessed the tremendous reach and influence of social media to send meaningful messages and support or launch causes that make our world a better place. We hope you’ll agree!
Founder of Black Girls Code
Followers: Black Girls Code Facebook 55.7K, Twitter 41.6K
Mom of 1
Just as her daughter discovered she was the only black girl at computer science camp and wasn’t getting the attention she deserved from instructors, Kimberly began work for a San Francisco startup and was shocked and disappointed at the low number of minorities represented at her job. She began the nonprofit Black Girls Code to empower young women of color ages 7 through 17 as potential technology builders and creators. Kimberly, who won an American Smithsonian Ingenuity Award in 2014, plans to expand Black Girls Code until it becomes “the Girl Scouts of coding,” as she told Smithsonian Magazine. American Express is helping fund the expansion through its #PassionProject initiative. Kimberly uses social media not only spread the word about Black Girls Code and promote IT diversity, but also to spread the word about job opportunities within her organization.
Christy Turlington Burns
Model, Social Entrepreneur, Founder of Every Mom Counts
Followers: Instagram, 365K+, Twitter 139K+, Facebook 79K+
Mom of 2
Modeling may be this beauty's bread and butter, but it’s Christy’s work promoting Every Mother Counts, her nonprofit dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother around the world, that earns her a social media award. "I had a complication after delivering my first child 12 years ago here in New York City," she told CNN. "I had a postpartum hemorrhage ... great birth experience but in the aftermath there are unexpected things that happen that you can't predict when and to whom it will happen.” Recently she launched a social media campaign and appeared at BlogHer ’15 to promote her four-part documentary on CNN, Giving Birth in America, to raise awareness about issues surrounding maternal health in the U.S. An important call to action, indeed.
Monica Marie Calderin
Founder of Childhood Unplugged
Followers: Instagram 63.6K
Mom of 3
Monica Marie, an accomplished photographer, founded the social media endeavor Childhood Unplugged, a monthly online exhibit featuring a collective of 10 photographers who share candid images of their kids at play away from devices to encourage a break from tech immersion. Her heavy charitable influence across social media inspires us, particularly toward raising awareness and funds for causes related to autism and cystic fibrosis. Monica’s website, a loving tribute to her children, also contains a blog called Life With Autism, beautiful photos and a highly personal account of life with her own autistic son.
Actor, UNHCR Ambassador to China
Followers: Weibo 78M+
Mom of 1
An actress, humanitarian and mother (think the Chinese Angelina), Yao has a huge social media influence in her native country and gets our props for using it tirelessly to help others. As Forbes wrote: “Chen used her stunning social media following—77.9 million Weibo followers and counting—to campaign against unspoken issues including China's smog problem, food contamination and government censorship.” She’s also held charity auctions and Weibo fund-raising campaigns to raise money to help those in her country affected by drought, to raise funds to feed disadvantaged children and to aid rural villagers with eye diseases.
Vice-Chair of the Clinton Foundation, Author
Followers: Twitter 982K+, Facebook 878K+
Mom of 1 (and 1 on the way)
Chelsea makes our list for her social media-driven philanthropic work for the Clinton Foundation, advocating to advance the rights of girls and women and promote various health improvement programs. She’s also inspiring tweens and teens with #ItsYourWorld—a hashtag call-to-action linked to her book of the same name. Written to inform kids at a crucial age about many of the issues facing our world today—issues that will fall to them to fix—she empowers kids with straight-up information about how they can make a difference and encourages them to share their success stories via social media.
Founder, Blink Now
Followers: Facebook, 28K+
Honorary Mom of 51
Named CNN’s Hero of the Year this past November, Maggie, a young millennial in her late 20s, earns our props for her inspirational story of mobilizing others via social media to help starving children in Western Nepal. After graduating high school, she set off for an epic backpacking trip around the world and found herself in Nepal, where she met a barely surviving 6-year-old girl selling stones to raise money for food. Maggie was moved to make a difference. She used her own savings to buy land and build a clean, safe home for children in that community, called the Kopila Valley Children’s Home. She now presides over that home with more than 50 children who call her “mom,” managing a team of caregivers to educate, feed and keep the children safe. Though she didn’t give birth to these children, and lacks the massive numbers of followers some of our awardees have, her story is an inspirational use of social media for us all.
A flashback from Christmas evening when the older kids saw their new instruments from Santa. We couldn’t have asked for a better reaction.
Sarah Sophie Flicker
Feminist, Activist, Performer
Followers: Instagram 24K+
Mom of 3
An eclectic cabaret performer with a political bent, Sarah Sophie balances raising three young kids, performing with her group, The Citizen’s Band, and her work as an impassioned activist—particularly with Daily Show founder Lizz Winstead’s reproductive rights organization, Lady Parts Justice. She uses social media tirelessly to raise awareness and funds for causes like these. Her poignant feminist blog, At Once, with bestie Nicole Okumu, is well worth checking out for its rich, empowering content at, as the tag says, “the intersection of feminism and motherhood.” Sarah Sophie makes it easy to see how they are one and the same.
Writer, Producer, Feminist
Followers: Twitter 83K+, Instagram 35K+
Mom of 2
Jenni is a very vocal social media presence who promotes GIRLS, her raw, humorous HBO series with Lena Dunham. But what especially caught our attention is that she and Lena have launched Lenny Letter, a thoughtful, super-smart feminist e-newsletter that presents elevated content (think poetry, short stories, articles about complex female health issues) encouraging millennials to look beyond the selfie toward creating a more female-friendly world—all expertly executed and engaged through use of social media.
Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess)
Followers: Twitter, 457K+, Facebook 148K+, Instagram 39K+
Mom of 1
Jenny’s savvy use of social media, mainly the hilarious stream-of-consciousness quips she broadcasts via Twitter, launched her career as a best-selling author. Readers are riveted by her cheeky life observations and brutally honest dialogue about living with mental illness on her enormously popular blog, The Bloggess. The huge cyber-hubbub parlayed into a book deal, and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened went on to debut at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. This past September, Furiously Happy followed. Perhaps most impressive, Jenny gives back. She mobilized her rabid blog readers to donate $25 to either Project Night Night, an organization that gives books, blankets and stuffed animals to homeless children, or Heifer, an organization that helps families around the world, for her to perform “the James Garfield Miracle”—an effort to get her “ferociously jolly taxidermied boar’s head recognized as an actual saint.” Wacky, but it worked—she raised $85k for both charities in a little over a week.
Glennon Doyle Melton (Momastery)
Blogger, Author, Founder of Together Rising
Followers: Facebook 450K+, Instagram 107K+, Twitter 41K+
Mom of 3
Along with compassionate writer compadre Cheryl Strayed, Glennon helped raise more than $1 million for Syrian refugees in just a day through her work with The Compassion Collective (#IStandWithLove). On the way to that great work, she built the successful blog Momastery that led to a New York Times best-seller Carry On, Warrior—her recount of how her pregnancy led her from addiction and to recovery. The very fiber of Glennon’s blog and her presence on social media is about helping others. She even formed the nonprofit Together Rising to serve women who need help getting back on their feet, just as she once did. We love a workmom who effectively uses social media as a call-to-action to put our money where her heart is.
Followers: Twitter 550K
Mom of 2
Caitlin is an accomplished social media maven driving us to hysterics on Twitter while mobilizing and empowering women with cheeky messages that redefine feminism and classicism. She’s the author of three hilarious books and was voted Times UK Columnist of the Year. Her political manifesto, Moranifesto, is expected out this year, and in true Caitlin fashion, she announced it with aplomb on YouTube: "We all need to feel that we are the ones, with our seven billion brains, who can make this world a better place. I believe everyone should write a political manifesto and put all their ideas on the table. I volunteered myself first to get the conversation going.”
Singer, Activist, UNICEF Ambassador
Followers: Facebook 32M+, Twitter 27M+
Mom of 1
We love workmom P!NK for her tremendous talent, honesty and gusto, but mostly for her dedication to promoting causes that feed hungry children—especially via social media. She a UNICEF Ambassador and the national spokesperson for UNICEF Kid Power, a fitness-band promotion that encourages kids to learn about new cultures, go on missions and exercise for points that, in turn, raise funds to feed hungry children around the world. She also relentlessly promotes No Kid Hungry (a nonprofit co-founded by “badass workmom” Debbie Shore), as she entertains us all with inspirational quotes and, of course, adorable footage of life with daughter Willow. Way to use your voice for the greater good!
Followers: Twitter 6.2M+, Facebook 4.7M+
Mom of 3
We all know J.K. (Joanne) can spin a yarn that entrances millions and millions of readers. Furthering the Harry Potter empire, she’s got the upcoming film, a Potter spin-off called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film, as well as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a stage production premiering onstage in London next summer. What you may not know is how Joanne uses her humungous social media influence to raise money and awareness for Lumos, a nonprofit she founded and presides over that works with governments to help children separated from their families because they are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. Oh yes, she also gives away a serious percentage of her wealth to charity.
Singer, Actress, Philanthropist, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Followers: Facebook 100M+, Twitter 35M+, Instagram 14M+
Mom of 2
This hip-shaking musical icon and mom of two was once referred to by the Wall Street Journal as the “Queen of Facebook,” literally setting a Guinness World Record in counting more than 100 million followers. However, she doesn’t just engage with her fans; she’s constantly raising awareness and funds for organizations that promote the education of children in countries with little access. Among them is the Barefoot Foundation, a nonprofit she formed to open schools in underserved areas of Columbia. Said to write many of her own Facebook posts and post many of her own pix, Shakira used her tremendous social media influence this summer to mobilize her fans to gain signatures for #UpForSchool, an online petition calling upon world leaders to overcome barriers that prevent girls and boys from attending school, such as child labor, child marriage, discrimination and conflict.
Jessica Shyba (Momma’s Gone City)
Blogger, Photographer, Author
Followers: Instagram 556K+, Facebook 43K+, Twitter, 31K
Mom of 4
A true story of social media–fueled success, Jessica was a stealth presence in the mommy-blog scene until adorable Instagrams of her kid napping with her dog went crazy viral and brought on a huge book deal for Naptime with #TheoandBeau. Its sequel, Bathtime with #TheoandBeau, is due out in 2016. But cuteness isn’t where it all stops—she uses her influence to not only sustain her business, but also to spread the word about causes she believes in like responsibility.org’s #TalkEarly program, a resource that prepares parents to talk to their kids about alcohol.
Mary Alice Stephenson
Style & Beauty Expert, Founder of @Glam4Good
Followers: Facebook 335K+, Instagram, 50K+, Twitter, 50K+
Mom of 1
She’s a renowned style maven, consultant and savvy commentator, and her feed is aspirationally glam—though not just for the gorgeously fashionable footage. It’s also about the work Mary Alice does with Glam4Good, an organization and digital platform she launched that partners with nonprofits, media outlets, and fashion and beauty brands to give life-changing makeovers and dramatic giveaways to everyday heroes and people in need. “As far as social media, we would not exist without it,” she told us. Among her many notable SM-fueled accomplishments: serving as National Fashion Ambassador for the Make-A-Wish foundation, working with the American Cancer Society and teaming up with Michelle Obama to give military moms-to-be makeovers. What inspired her? “I asked myself if all the magazine covers, celebrities and ad campaigns I’d styled had truly helped to make a difference in the world. The answer was no. So, I found a way I could still do what I am passionate about and know that when I leave this earth, I used fashion to change lives in a way you can't put a price tag on, or retouch.”
Founder and Executive Director, Postpartum Progress
Followers: Facebook 22.7K, Twitter 12.5K
Mom of 2
From the get-go, Katherine utilized social media to reach out to others and build a supportive community. Her honest recount of struggling with postpartum depression riveted readers on her blog turned successful nonprofit, Postpartum Progress, a peer-to-peer community that provides resources and peer help, raises awareness, and provides education about maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety & OCD, postpartum PTSD, pregnancy depression and anxiety, and more. She launched the initiative after winning a Bloganthropy Award for using social media to make a difference as well as a 2011 Media Award from Mental Health America, given for outstanding coverage and portrayals of mental health issues.
Followers: Facebook 208K+, Instagram 78K+, Twitter 78K+
Mom of 2
She’s best known as the author of the popular book (made into the successful film) Wild. But Cheryl—a dedicated writer and teacher—earns an A+ in our book for her apt demonstration of how social media influence can be used to raise huge funds for the greater good in record time. Just last month, along with blogger Glennon Doyle Melton (see above), writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), and a coterie of other writers, she formed The Compassionate Collective, a social media campaign that raised $1 million for Syrian refugees in a little over a day by rounding up donations of $25 or less.
Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Followers: Facebook 475K+, Twitter 40K+
Mom of 5
This former communications executive was a stay-at-home mom moved to use social media as a way to mobilize against gun violence after the Sandy Hook shootings of 2012. Immediately thereafter she took to Facebook, forming Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to an incredible response. It quickly spurred an offline grassroots movement of American mothers fighting for public safety measures that respect the Second Amendment and protect people from gun violence. There’s currently a chapter in every state—a perfect example of how social media can be used to gather people to affect change for the greater good.
Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg, MD
Co-founder of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Followers: Facebook, 1.3M+
Mom of 1
You may know Priscilla as the wife of Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg and a new mom, but she’s also a doctor and educator who, with her husband, set up a philanthropic foundation funded by their billions. The Chan Zuckerberg initiative works with schools, health centers, parent groups and local governments to ensure children have access to the food and education they need. Here’s to more moms, like Priscilla, using their social media–fueled power, money (she and Mark have recently committed to giving away 99 percent of their Facebook shares during their lifetime to charity) and influence to making the world a better place!