Parentpedia. Family Blogger. Comment Contest. Consider these just some of the elements of DisneyFamily.com that laid the groundwork for the company's next project, the summer launch of its parent-focused social network, *Disney* Family.com Community. The ad-supported site is open to both mothers and fathers, but mothers are the target audience. While still in the QA phase of development, Disney (NYSE: DIS) Family Network's director-marketing Maureen Bergmueller and director-user interface design and community Maria McManus walked me through a demo of the social net's key features. Some highlights:
-- Fundamental principles: Based on observations of its current family site and research on its competitors in the field, Disney began its January development of the social network with the understanding that to their key demographic, mothers, intimacy is of chief importance. While MySpace and Facebook users can gain satisfaction by uploading their own photos and spicing up their "About Me" sections, moms in the online community want to relate to others through their families while expressing themselves in creative ways.
-- Uniqueness among user profiles: Aside from choosing their own background images and colors on their profiles, Community users can create and customize their own avatarsnot only to represent themselves, but to represent their whole families, from children to pets. Users can also create their own "stickers," thumbnail-type images that can be shared among the rest of the Community or kept to oneself. For example, a mother can create her own "Proud to be a C-section mom" sticker and opt-in to share with the other Community users. Other C-section mothers can then adopt these stickers to their profiles and see the profiles of and connect with other members who snagged the same sticker. Other features in the works include Twitter-type updates where users can type in a blurb to be shown in a thought bubble next to their avatars and soon after Community launches, Disney will introduce quizzes modeled after ones typically found in women's magazines.
Interesting to see Disney finally make its move into parents' social nets after over a year of heavy funding activity and some acquisitions in the sector. Though the company says it has experts such as licensed practitioners and psychiatrists to vouch for the quality of its information, not to mention the fact that it's, well, Disney, Disney Family.com Community could still get lost in the already-crowded space. Just because a brand is widely known doesn't mean it is guaranteed to tap into success. Remember Anheuser-Busch's Bud.tv? After numerous attempts to improve the content, the site has yet to secure a steady fan base.
By Amanda Natividad