Commentary

Tags And Tone Tell Much Of The Story At ChickRx

One of my favorite web pages is the Wikipedia entry for social media. The first line, in an orange warning box, reads "This article has multiple issues." Of course, who doesn't have issues?

A new health site, ChickRx.com, embraces that sentiment and in the process adds a new wrinkle to the definition of "social media." With a combination of expert medical advice, celebrity health coverage and possibly the most entertaining use of tags on the web; ChickRx uses a mix of humor and health expertise for its target audience of 20-something women.

The site is clean and sharp, and while it might make a lot of sense for certain health marketers to explore the obvious ad buy, there are a lot of insights to be gleaned from the approach taken by co-founders Stacey Borden and Meghan Muntean.

I am a huge fan of tags. I feel that they are one of the most under-utilized tools that online publishers -- marketers and non-marketers alike -- have at their disposal when trying to build up a compelling directory of their web content. But because of the time-consuming nature of adding them, I don't typically think of them as fun.

ChickRx, however, embraces the endeavor fully with a combination of traditional, functional tags balanced with a host of tongue-in-cheek phrases. For example, an article titled "IBS: It Beats Syphilis" gets the following tags: "Conditions Everyone Thinks They Have," "Constipation, Diarrhea," "Gas, I'm (Ahem) Reading," "Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)," "Stuff That Ruins Dates." An article on moles and skin cancer has tags "Border Issues That Don't Involve Mexico," "Mole Patrol," "Skin Cancer, "Warning Signs," "You Win This Round SPF."

"Our goal is to demystify some of these issues for young women, and the humor is a supplement to that," said Borden, ChickRx's CEO, in an interview last week. "It shouldn't compete with that in terms of their getting great information. And so we especially like highlighting and using the tags because it's a way that provides commentary on what we just said rather than clouding what we said."

Borden said that the site, while not currently featuring advertising, is well-positioned to become a possible partner with brands that might be having trouble getting their footing with social media sites like Facebook.

"We realized that they really are limited in terms of their ability to leverage social media ... A lot of brands, particularly around health and wellness, really can't leverage that to a great extent because the whole idea of social media is that you aren't anonymous. It's you. And a lot of brands, young women actually want to learn more about these brands. Many of the women would not want to publicly affiliate with these brands through a social media profile. So we think ChickRx could really be a great conduit for the user base and the companies, actually."

While there were many long hours pre-launch and both Borden and Muntean were balancing other full-time jobs through the process, they said they learned to make sure not to over-delegate on areas like the terms of service and the privacy policy.

"You can't just pass things off to your lawyer or accountant or writers or anyone and just expect them to get it done for you, and you can run with it," said Muntean, the company's president. "If you want to make sure that you're giving your consumers the best product possible, you have to be involved in every step of the process. You have to be able to work with others and give it up at a certain point, but you have to really do your homework for every step of the process."

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