CEO of Mumsnet Justine Roberts to keynote at Digital Content Monetisation 2011 in London
BY PAUL QUIGLEY
ECM Plus – At Digital Content Monetisation 2011 in London this month, Justine Roberts, co-founder and CEO of Mumsnet, will talk about the secrets of building a thriving online community, and how Mumsnet works with clients and advertisers.
According to Roberts, from building Mumsnet from scratch, to a site which attracts 25 thousand posts each day, Roberts commented on what have been the key factors in building and maintaining a successful online community.
“Essentially,” said Roberts, “we started with a blank piece of paper, viewing ourselves as a platform provider, with the understanding the site had to be developed in collaboration with mumsnetters at every stage.”
Roberts added: “The most important factor has been letting the community direct progress and listening to what they want – almost all innovations, new site and product developments at Mumsnet are derived from members suggestions.”
The Mumsnet founder added that this happens on a day-to-day basis. “We view the site as an ongoing beta or focus group. Most recently this has led to our ‘Off the Beaten Track’ section, covering sensitive issues which which users’ requested not to be indexed by Google. Their feedback and suggestions have also been instrumental to the design of our soon-to-launch mobile app.”
Roberts said that this ‘constant beta’ approach has also lead Mumsnet down some unconventional paths where design is concerned. “Following a re-design four years ago, there was such an uproar from users, that within half a day, the old design had to be put back. So we now have four different designs available, including the ‘classic’ view.”
According to the Mumsnet founder, one have to understand that for people who are really engaged in the community, the site’s design becomes like their wallpaper at home.”
Mumsnet describes itself as akin to a social enterprise, its “overarching aim not the pursuit of profits” but rather serving your community in an ethical manner.
On the challenges of serving shareholders as well as the community, and who has the last say, Roberts said: “Mumsnet has been fortunate enough to never have outside shareholders, and to be funded through cashflow and the original founders taking no salary for many years, so we’ve never been obliged to chase cash.”
Added the CEO, “We are very aware people don’t have to be on Mumsnet, and of how connected to the brand people feel – the community members calling themselves mumsnetters, for instance. This wouldn’t work if we tried to flog things to them all the time.”
“We work with transparent, open brands, and we got to the position we are in today by being selective about who we work with” Roberts asserted.
The Mumsnet CEO believes the most successful clients are those willing to engage with the community, recognising there’s a new world out there, not just putting up an ad and stepping back. “It can be incredibly powerful for both product testing and market research” she added.
“The census of our members last year showed that 80% said they wouldn’t make a major purchase without checking with the Mumsnet community first. We see part of our role here as helping brands become part of that discussion in non-partisan way.”
Mumsnet is soon to release an iPhone app, developed in association with Vodafone. The app will be free and ad supported, and the iPhone launch will be followed by other mobile platforms. Justine is speaking at Digital Content Monetisation, which takes place 24-26 January in London. Visit www.dcm-eu.com for more details.