There are times where tradition runs particularly deep—holidays, wedding ceremonies or the birth of a child, for instance. But the advent of the digital age has meant tradition often meets technology head on, usually with an interesting mixture of results.

The British monarchy is the picture of tradition, from ancient ceremonies to royal celebrations, and all the pomp and circumstance in between. Yet, at the same time, the monarchy runs an Instagram feed that provides an almost real-time peek at day in and day out life as a royal.

But perhaps at no time has the impact of digital media colliding with time-honored tradition been more evident than with the recent birth of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge as he made his long-anticipated debut in July. As with many expectant parents, royal or otherwise, social media played a significant role from early pregnancy to post-birth.

While the traditional public announcement was still posted on the ornate easel outside Buckingham Palace by the queen’s press secretary,  that step did not take place until an email blast to the media had announced the birth of the prince. As the long-awaited news streamed across social media networks, companies soon seized the  opportunity to launch royalty-themed social media marketing campaigns, complete with giveaways, tributes and contests, many of them targeting expectant parents. From Facebook and Twitter to Google+ and Instagram, a number of platforms marked the first time a royal’s birth had been announced on social media.

Even among parents-to-be of non-royal offspring, the familiar digital world beckons couples to share their experience in many ways, often played out against a backdrop of time-honored traditions surrounding the birth of a child. Today’s new parents are turning to social media and digital apps naturally, from naming their baby to holding virtual baby showers, as they go through this exciting time in their lives. Meanwhile, companies hoping to reach this demographic are realizing that social media campaigns and mobile advertising are  as important to the mix as more traditional advertising.

Baby goes digital

When it comes to getting ready for baby, there’s an app for that. Most expectant parents are  part of a generation used to downloading more than just music, books and navigation. They have come to rely on web and mobile apps to make their daily lives easier, more efficient and tech-interesting. It’s only natural they are turning to mobile apps to make their way successfully through pregnancy.

That’s a conclusion drawn increasingly by companies seeking to reach this market. According to digital media aggregator eMarketing, some of the most prominent companies are shifting revenues to mobile, as time spent on such devices begins climbing past other potential media targets for advertisers, like television.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s most recent results, a majority of Americans now own smartphones, so it seems only natural that expectant parents are looking for a variety of apps to ease some of the stresses throughout pregnancy, and not just a basic stopwatch app or a baby name finder to time contractions on the big day.

There truly does appear to be an app for every aspect of getting ready for baby, from finding the dates most likely to result in conceiving to monitoring physical changes to suggestions for a healthy diet. Following the birth, parents can move on to a whole new category of mobile apps, including those that help busy parents remember everyday things like when baby last had a diaper change to the free breast feeding tabulator that allows new parents to keep track of breast and bottle feedings.

Showers go social

Some soon-to-be mothers are even making use of ultrasound showers where an imaging technician arrives with mobile ultrasound equipment so that guests can get a sneak peek of the tiny guest of honor. After  a few precautions, guests are otherwise treated to images of the baby. Of course, those who are unable to attend are likely to find images on social media.

Even with more traditional baby showers, planning  such an event for an expectant mother or couple can be complicated, and with the average baby shower party costing up to $1,000 or more, there can be considerable pressure put on the planner to pull off the perfect event.

But the friend or family member tasked with the challenge of planning a baby shower will find there are baby shower planning apps available for both Android and iOS platforms to help planners pull off a successful celebration. For example, Baby Showers Revealed for the iOS platform or Baby Shower Guide, Baby Shower Cake Ideas or Baby Shower Games, among others, all free from Google Play, make planning a shower much simpler.

In addition to apps, baby shower planners can make use of social media, such as Facebook, to track down invitees, send invitations and post photos after the event. Pinterest has a large selection of baby shower themes available.

Virtual showers

For a generation growing up in the digital age, it was bound to happen: the virtual baby shower. Today, friends and family are scattered across the country and sometimes around the world, causing expectant moms to opt for virtual baby showers rather than forgoing the opportunity altogether. For example, with the events option in Facebook, baby shower planners can create virtual events that include links to everything from gift registries selected by the mother-to-be, as well as posted updates or links to the expectant mom’s pregnancy blog.

Some of these planners are even including games reminiscent of more traditional baby shower activities, such as asking guests to guess what day of the week the baby will be born on.

For other baby shower planners, sites like Oovoo and Skype offer the ability to hold video baby showers in place of the traditional kind. These video  uses some of the same features as virtual ones, but offers the advantage of video conferencing to the mix. Guests thoughtful enough to send gifts prior to the video shower date are treated to a peek at the mother-to-be open her gifts in front of the video guests.

Social media plays the name game

One of the questions inevitably asked at traditional baby showers is, “What will you name the baby?” The digital age has parents covered. Expectant parents are now turning to social media to ask friends and family with what was once considered a very private decision.

Not surprisingly, there are numerous mobile apps that can help the undecided parents, sporting tens of thousands of potential names.

Still, some parents are taking the digital age’s influence a step further and inviting friends via social media to help them choose a name. The site Belly Ballot allows expectant parents to select up to five top names for consideration, then use social media to publicize the “contest” and announce the final results. The site even gives prizes for the lists garnering the most balloting.

Future opportunities

Recent research shows new parents typically post photos of their newborn within an hour of giving birth. The use of digital technology and social media to navigate pregnancy, announce the new arrival and care for baby in those early days is not likely to taper off.

The  use of mobile apps, social networking and other digital tools by new  parents also signals opportunities for companies hoping to reach them. Johnson & Johnson grabbed this chance back in 1997 with the launch of the site BabyCenter, sponsored by the company. The site offers both information and social networking. What it doesn’t offer is hard sell tactics, a likely reason it is so popular among young parents.

Companies hoping to reach this demographic and strengthen their brand reputation have vast opportunities for providing relevant content, in addition to growing opportunities to reach this demographic via mobile advertising.