Thursday, October 30, 2008

Disney Launches Pixie Hollow- Social Gaming for Girls

Disney’s Pixie Hollow is the latest social network and gaming site targeted towards girls and pre-teens. Pixie Hollow has a fairy theme featuring the popular Disney character Tinker Bell. On the site, girls can create and customize a fairy, chat with other fairies, play games, and undergo tasks to earn badges for their “Leaf Journal”. Coming attractions for Pixie Hollow include the ability to embark on quests and host “Pixie Parties”.

The risk involved in creating a social network for young girls is apparent when considering what could happen to Disney’s reputation if something went wrong. Moderation and parental controls are therefore at the center of the registration process. Disney offers parents the ability to control chat levels and permissions, as well as the type of content girls can upload. User chat, the most compromising of social networking tools from Disney’s perspective, is extremely restricted. Users can type their own phrases but only using words from the Disney dictionary, or select from a list of pre-approved questions and statements. It's obvious that Disney spent a lot of time working on moderation, both from their own ideas and by taking cues from other social gaming sites like Stardoll. The effort has definitely paid off; PixieHollow's moderation is flawless.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tumblon Combines Developmental Advice with Social Network for Families

Tumblon is a site for parents of young children, enabling them to record developmental milestones through stories and photos. Users can create a “Family Blog”, post status updates for each child, upload photos, and add stories. The social networking component is lack-luster, but what makes the site unique is the plethora of age-appropriate developmental information available for infants through elementary school-aged children. There is even a weekly developmental milestone breakdown for newborns up to three months.

Developmental resources are broken down into five categories with separate overview pages: cognitive, social & emotional, speech & language, fine motor, and gross motor. Each overview page offers an easy to understand list of milestones, suggested activities, and recommended articles. Additionally, Tumblon has a smart business model- suggesting age-appropriate books, toys, and gear. Even though Tumblon is only in Beta, there are already several links to purchase items directly from the site.

The social networking piece that Tumblon offers is unoriginal and has been attempted on a much larger scale (Disney’s,, etc.) but the high quality developmental information, combined with the clever business model, may carry Tumblon through.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Closet Couture Lets Users Organize their Closets Online

Closet Couture is a new fashion-focused community that takes social shopping to a new level. Users can not only create and view one another’s wish lists, pulling items from each other, but also upload photograph items from their own “real” closets. Users can create their own “Dressing Rooms” with their clothing photos, creating packing lists and photo albums. Merchants can also create profiles, uploading items from their boutiques and including pricing information in a way that is not only unobtrusive but offers real value to the consumers on the site.

In addition to the “My Closet” tool, Closet Couture offers forums, a style blog, and an extensive list of stylists and other fashion service providers. Closet Couture is off to a great start, but I would have liked to see the ability to share packing lists with friends, vote on other users’ looks, and create outfits for friends- functionalities that would allow users to take advantage of the collective style consciousness. Overall, though, the site provides a unique and relevant social networking community in the crowded fashion space.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

eMarketer Posts Study Results about Moms Online

EMarketer recently posted the results of a June and July 2008 study conducted for the Marketing to Moms coalition about the online habits of women with children. According to eMarketer, an estimated 35.3 million US mothers online in 2008, equivalent to 18.2% of the total US Internet population. That number is expected to reach 39.6 million in 2012.

Moms online were found to be avid online shoppers, travel bookers, and healthcare information checkers, as expected. However, mothers also took part in many online activities that are generally considered to be more traditionally "male" activities, such as online banking and game playing.

Hopefully, marketers and advertisers will pick up the data and see that mothers do much more online than check email and visit parenting sites.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Interview with Tammy Tibbetts, Editor of

I interviewed the lovely Tammy Tibbetts, editor of The interview transcript:

How would you describe your site in 40 words or less? is the leading source for quinceañera fashion, accessorizing, and planning, and is a platform for empowering Latina girls. We encourage them to dream big for their 15th birthday and even bigger for the next 15 years of their lives. is obviously geared towards Latina teens. Why target the Hispanic demographic?

The Hispanic youth population is growing at a faster rate than other ethnic groups. According to U.S. Census projections, by 2015, one-third of US teens will be Hispanic. Research from eMarketer also shows that Hispanic Internet users spend a third more time with media than the general U.S. population. So the increase in the quantity of the audience, coupled with the quality of their online experience, make it clear why we should be reaching this specific demographic if we want to grow our Teen Network (which includes brands like Seventeen, CosmoGirl, and Teen) exponentially in the years to come.

You have ample experience editing Web sites for teenagers. (In addition to, you are also the editor of In what ways is MisQuinceMag, as a site for young Latinas, different?

There's a big difference between editing for prom and quinceañera, and not just because is targeted to a specific ethnic group. When I create content for, reaching the teen girl is my first priority, but I am also conscious of the fact that she is sharing the site with parents and family members, because they are deeply involved in the planning process and financing of the party. This is why it's so important to have the site be bilingual, because older generations might not be as comfortable with English. My sense is that parents read the Spanish half of the site more, while the teen girls read the English more. Prom, on the other hand, is an experience shared mainly among peers, so in addition to fashion and beauty, we have more content on relationships and date issues.

As a new brand, how are you spreading the word and reaching out to your target audience?

We syndicate our bilingual content with related links to MSN Latino and AOL Latino, which has been key in growing our audience, because so many Hispanic users begin their web experience at these portals. We also have a presence on the social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube.

Once a year, has a print counterpart, which is an insert inside of a fall issue of Seventeen, CosmoGirl, and Teen. The newsstand presence is also a powerful driver to web.

And finally, we invest a lot of time and effort into optimizing web pages for search engines, so that users who are searching for quinceañera dresses or hairstyles, but who aren't necessarily aware of the brand, will find our great content and become repeat visitors.

What Web 2.0 features do you have on the site? Why did you pick them?

My favorite is a blog written by the leading quinceañera expert in the world, Isabella Wall, who is recognized as the fairy godmother of quinceañeras. The blog is published in Spanish and English. I chose to produce a blog because it's infused with Isabella's personality, making it livelier than an article might be, and it's updated weekly, so it keeps the site fresh.

Have you seen any successes with those features? How is your audience responding to them?

Yes, the blog has been a huge success. I love seeing users comment on it in both languages, asking for more tips and thanking Isabella for the ideas she's sharing with them. The blog inspires them and makes them feel connected to a woman who is at once respected, like an aunt or tía, but who also relates to them on their level.

Do you have any upcoming plans for the site that you can share with us?

Flipbooks, or photo galleries, are a proven success with our audience – and online audiences in general – so I plan to create more content that is image-based, rather than publish longer, texty articles. I also hope to foster a community where quince girls can connect with one another and offer each other tips based on their own party planning experiences.

What advice can you give to people interested in marketing to or otherwise professionally targeting young Latinas?

Do research. Read Advertising Age's Hispanic Fact Pack and eMarketer's studies on Hispanic user web trends. Immerse yourself in the culture. If you don't speak Spanish, take classes. Listen to Spanish music. Buy a copy of People en Español. And above all, take the time to invite young Latinas into your offices or engage with them in your community so you can ask them directly what matters to them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

OnSugar- a Practically Perfect Publishing Tool

If Web 2.0 opened up the conversation between publishers and consumers, then Web 3.0 will flip the publisher/consumer relationship on its head. Sugar Media brilliantly implemented the Web 3.0 mentality with their recently launched OnSugar, a flawless publishing tool that allows users to create blogs, galleries, quizzes, polls, spreads, and more. Users can also incorporate videos, chat conversations, quotes, and audio. The design is sleek, the tools are easy to use, and the functionalities make sense for Sugar users.

One such tool is the ability to create the same type of fashion spreads as Sugar’s CelebStyle. With OnSugar, any user can search through retail items on ShopStyle, mixing and matching them to free images from Getty Images.

I anticipate this tool, and OnSugar in general, will be popular amongst Sugar readers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Three Quick Tips to Reach Boomer Women

The rise of social media has galvanized large media companies to change their one-way conversations with consumers into a two-way relationship where both parties contribute. It’s easy to do that with teens and Millenials, the generations who made social networking mainstream and crave any opportunity to share blog posts, photos, and videos with big brands. But how does one integrate the Web 2.0 mentality into Web sites for female Boomers, who have just as much to contribute but less experience doing so? Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Make it relevant. Boomer women, unlike younger generations, do not have dozens of profiles on various social networks. In order for female Boomers to join and participate in a community, they need a specific, engaging reason that has immediate added value. A great example of this is Good Housekeeping’s Recipebook application, in which women participate in a community based around recipe sharing and reviewing.

  1. Stick to the basics. Just as one cannot shift directly from first to fifth gear, so too, it is unadvisable to go from no Web 2.0 features to a full community suite with group-edited video blogs. It is particularly important with female Boomers not to overwhelm with a wide range of complicated functionalities. Also, be sure to name the community (and its tools) something that will be understood by the demographic, focusing on a direct call to action and devoid of tech jargon. Ladies Home Journal does a great job with their message boards, which are under the “Participate” link and entice readers with a “Join a Conversation” call to action.

  1. Keep it simple. Participation has a different connotation amongst Boomer women than the younger set. Focus on quick and easy. One tool that is popular with female Boomers is a group photo album where each user can upload a single photo to an editorially named gallery. Martha Stewart has galleries for cute cupcakes, gardens, and stamping projects, among others.

MyPunchBowl- Fabulous New Features but Nonsensical Flow

When I read about MyPunchBowl’s latest updates on TechCrunch, I was excited to check them out. Indeed, the Design Studio- where one can create an invitation from scratch or customize existing invitations- was impressive. I could quickly and easily change the background design, font, colors, and even add decorative ribbons. The functionality was so impressive that I wished they already had the ability to print out real invitations. (TechCrunch mentioned that they are currently working on adding that capability.) I also thought the ability to poll friends for a convenient date was clever.

The site’s usability, however, was poor. I could not view any invitation designs without first creating an account. Asking for users to provide personal information is a deterrent even after the users have been engaged; asking for personal information without showing them anything is undoubtedly losing MyPunchBowl users. After signing up and naming my event, creating an invitation was the fourth and last option in the menu, ranked underneath Get Inspired (party tips), Poll for a Date, and Save the Date. Those three options are significantly less important to users than the ability to create and send invitations, and I was surprised to see that the online invitations option was so under-emphasized.

If I had a tool like the Design Studio, I would give it prominent placement on my homepage and let users play around with it before requiring them to sign up. Saving the best for last is not an adage that works well for the Web.

It's a Woman's Web

Thank you for checking out Webutantes, a blog chronicling Web 2.0/3.0 updates and new media targeting women. I’m starting this blog because, although there are many successful blogs covering social media and start-ups, I have not seen any major blogs covering the women’s consumer Internet angle, which is both my passion and area of expertise.

Why women? According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 74% of adult women in the United States use the Internet, and 71 million European women are online (Forrester Research). EMarketer reports that more women than men are currently online, and projects that the trend will continue through 2011. In addition to their overall online presence, women are more likely than men to use email, receive photos online, play games alone, and enter sweepstakes (Forrester Research).

Teen girls outperform boys in the social media realm: There are nearly twice as many teen girl bloggers as boy bloggers and they are far more likely than boys to post photos online. 70% of teen girls ages 15-17 are members of online social networks, outperforming boys of the same age (Pew Internet). In the realm of purchasing power, women account for 85% of consumer purchases and represent the majority of the online shopping market (She-conomy).

One of the things that make blogs such a unique and innovative medium is the community aspect. As such, I look forward to hearing your comments and welcome your suggestions for how to improve the blog, topics you’d like to see me cover, and anything else you’d like to let me know. Please feel free to contact me at gafninoa at gmail dot com.

Come back soon to check out news, interviews, and tips for targeting the female demographic… because it’s a woman’s web after all.