Baby, Take a Look at You Now
Eight months after AOL and iVillage veteran Tina Sharkey came on board as chairman, BabyCenter.com relaunched in August with an increased emphasis on social media and search.
The Johnson & Johnson-owned site for new and expectant parents added several new features, including a service that builds a custom Web page based on a parent's stage of pregnancy or child's age and a new Q&A engine that lets users get answers to questions about pregnancy and parenting from other BabyCenter members.
The revamped site also includes an affiliate blogging network that gives professional and amateur bloggers access to the BabyCenter's audience of over 4 million unique visitors and a dedicated sales staff to help market the blogs. As senior vice president of network & community programming at AOL, Sharkey helped blogs become more mainstream through the acquisition of Weblogs Inc. and concepts like adverblogging — the posting of sponsored messages on blogs.
In a recent interview, Sharkey stressed the importance of social media optimization. "Where marketers make a mistake online is where they're going in and aren't authentic and don't leave themselves open to feedback," she says. To that end, BabyCenter has developed a consumer panel of 40,000 new or expectant moms which Johnson & Johnson and other marketers can tap to learn about new trends and develop new products. The site claims to have a 78 percent market share of its target audience.
Sharkey recently also hired another former AOL and Weblogs vet, Steven Friedman, as vice president and publisher to lead the expansion of BabyCenter's sales organization.