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Monday, March 13, 2006

What You Can Learn From An Online Parenting Community Site

Posted by @ 7:06 pm
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There is a lot of excitement surrounding the latest Web 2.0 developments. Ren gave a good overview of how Web 2.0 differs from the “old Internet as we know it” earlier this month – essentially Web 2.0 describes a new phase of Internet activity centering on collaborative, community-focused, dynamic and interactive World Wide Web.

Minti – A Global Parenting Community

A good example of the Web 2.0 trend is Minti (http://www.minti.com), a global parent-to-parent ranked advice website community, launched last week under the direction of Clay Cook, the founder of ineedhits. Parents often have difficulty in finding helpful information about child rearing and parenthood. The founders of Minti recognized that some of the best advice tends to come from parents’ groups, took this principle online and have created a community in which parents can share and rank advice about parenting questions.

“Families feel more isolated due to the demands of today’s fast paced life-style,” said Clay Cook, co-founder and CEO of Minti. “Parents want a comfortable, always available, global community where advice is easily shared and ranked. Minti is very focused on solving this requirement, making the world a smaller place for parents in need of support.”

Combining the Best of Web 2.0

Members of Minti (membership is free) can contribute articles, comment on and rank other members’ articles, tag articles for future reference, create and manage their own homepage and upload and publish photos. The reputation and standing of a member increases with his or her contribution to the site content, giving the member greater visibility and recognition within the community.

The Minti website uses the new AJAX technology to enable article tagging, and many of the site’s other features have been inspired by Web 2.0 trailblazers such as Wikipedia, Flickr, del.icio.us, MySpace.com and VirtualTourist.com.

Lessons for Your Website

Even if the topic of parenting doesn’t interest you in the least, you can draw some valuable lessons from http://www.minti.com for your own website:

  1. Offer your visitors relevant and useful information.
    Even if your primary goal is creating sales of products or services, high-quality, topical information will differentiate your site from others and attract pre-qualified visitors. For example, a banking website might offer a free tool to assess your financial health, or a travel website might offer information on recommended vaccinations.
  2. Give people a reason to return to your website.
    No matter how good you are at generating repeat purchases from existing customers, try and give your customers and other website visitors more reasons than just purchasing to come back to your website regularly. You can do this by regularly updating your news or information section, or by adding tools or gadgets that can be used over and over.
  3. Increase your visitors’ involvement and sense of belonging.
    The most active Web 2.0 sites are hugely successful in instilling a great pride and sense of ownership in their community members. Just imagine if you could instill similar feelings in your customers from your brand! Creating interactivity and the feeling of “being heard” is critical.
  4. Harness the power of word-of-mouth.
    Word-of-mouth or viral marketing is highly effective and very cheap compared to other traffic or customer acquisition methods. Make sure you have the content that makes your visitors want to pass it on to their colleagues and friends, and make sure you have the technology allowing them to do so easily. The “forward to a friend” button in emails or “send this article to a friend” link are only the beginning.
  5. Make your site easy to use.
    Yes, it sounds basic, but many websites are still far from easy to use. Make sure your visitors can easily find what they are looking for (for example by adding a search box), and ensure that your site navigation is intuitive. A simple text based navigation structure also has SEO benefits.

    Definitely check out http://www.minti.com – if not for the parenting advice, then to see what Web 2.0 can mean for you!









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