The solution? The diaper set.
Today, the modern equivalents of the Sears Photo Studio Baby Book are bubbling up everywhere, courtesy of sleep-deprived but inspired parents. Increasingly, these social networking sites are starting with the proverbial twinkle-in-the-eye: when the babe is still a bump.
Award-winning sites such as TheCradle.com, a hot new "lifestyle destination for new pregnancy and new parenthood," are packed with easy-to-use social networking features for Moms to be, including personalizable Web page templates, e-cards, message boards, expert advice, and a Products Guide to help users with "the information you need to know for your need-to-have items."
Another diaper-driven site, Baveo.com launched its private beta site for the expectant parent recently. Like TheCradle.com, Baveo's goal is to be a simple, one-stop place for centralizing everything about the pregnancy and new baby with user-generated text, video and photos. It has succeeded in creating something parents, grandparents, friends and relatives will find easy to use. They've even added big print to help grandparents who have graduated to the large-print section of the library. Baveo also lets family and friends receive updates via email, SMS or RSS.
TheBump.com is the latest entry from popular wedding site (1.8 million unique visitors in January '08/comScore) TheKnot.com, which acquired the group of local magazines and maternity guides last February in something of a surprise move. While The Knot's bread-and-butter business will always be its wedding planning content, the company's tactical moves to capture category white space with post-bridal bookend sites The Nest (for newlyweds); The Nest Baby (for new parents), and The Bump with its targeted print distribution in OB/GYN offices, make good strategic sense.
TheBump.com is now concentrating on helping future Moms and fledgling ones find their tribes -- virtually every inch of its front page is crammed with newsy "Featured" stories plucked from their thriving communities. This "someone is home" look is hugely important in this category. While baby is napping, Mom desperately needs to network.
By the time Baby is born, he or she is already Google-able and ready to toddle (or Twitter) to the next level of social networking. While the little Prince or Princess is napping -- or intently studying Mandarin with the nanny -- Mom and Dad can check out the growing list of possibilities for the Pull-Ups crowd:
Totspot: The brainchild of a bunch of family-oriented Harvard grads, TotSpot is a place to create a private page about your kids and share it with friends and family. The site is an online scrapbook and community for babies, kids, and their parents.
Kidmondo: Kidmondo was founded by a couple in New York City, who -- after the birth of their second child -- couldn't find a compelling way to chronicle and share news about their kids with family and friends around the world. Kidmondo is a comprehensive online baby journal and organizer that allows parents and caregivers to chronicle their child's life and share it with friends and family in a safe environment. The founders very smartly included "caregivers" in their mission statement. This is a fact of today's life - the caregiver may very likely be the one to witness the first step or horrors! rub whiskey on the gums of that teething babe. New parents should make sure they hire a nanny whose skills extend from Web 2.0 to wee-wee.
Lil'Grams: This microblogging site - dubbed "twittering for toddlers" - comes from new father and entrepreneur Greg Narain of Blue Whale Labs. The mission: Lil'Grams is a real-time baby book designed to make it absolutely simple for parents to capture the precious moments of their baby's life and share it with their family and friends instantly.
Odadeo: The site was soft-launched on Father's Day of last year but appears to still be in beta. Odadeo is the site that aims to answer the question "How am I going to be a better Dad?" There are some 82 million Moms in the U.S. and most of them seem to be on the Internet blogging. It's about time the Dads start turning up in droves. One of the questions I'm asked most often about Mom Marketing is: What about the Dads?
Now I can also send parents to the edgy, incorrigible and okay, informative, video-rich site founded by a zany group of tech-savvy Dads in Austin, Texas, called DadLabs.com. Here's their mission statement: Tune in as the Dads tackle the issues of today: from breast feeding in public to head lice to poop in the tub. The Dads have even authored a book called Due Dads: The Man's Guide to Labor & Delivery. These sites are all baby-stepping into a crowded field dominated by the Big Kids such as NBC/Universal-owned iVillage, CafeMom, ParentsConnect, Kaboose, ClubMom, Johnson & Johnson's BabyCenter, Australia's Minti's parent-to-parent advice-o-pedia and whomever Lifetime Digital buys next.
The good news for site creators? If you're really dedicated, you can always "grow" your own social network. It looks like Angelina Jolie may be doing just that.