Marketing & Content Strategy for a family social network

A Concept of Family Social Network

The Emergence of family social networks is, arguably, rooted in a looming risk of loss / misuse of the person's digital data as well as in the social activity of teenage children who want to establish their online presence. Parents are reasonably worried about the children’s lack of network experience and their possible data misuse.

Often, a family social network is a simplified version of Facebook made for private sharing of photos (files) and instant messages as well as access to resources. Family social networks are best established via a cross-platform mobile application as it grants better options for creating, storing and sharing content on mobile devices.

Also, there are web-based sites that give networking experience like http://familylobby.com/. Yet, their tech features and content strategy is most suited for parents’ communication, not parent-child communication. There is a certain risk that children will fly web-based sites for Facebook like apps as the letter gives more interactivity.

Family social network sites have different modes of monetization – from selling ads (https://zalongo.com/blog/ad-supported) to offering print products (http://blog.23snaps.com/30-off-christmas-photobooks-from-23snaps/). Free sites have a risk of disappearing with users’ data at anytime, like for example, http://rootsy.com or http://myfamily.com (data were available for export). So, arguably an option for capturing (exporting) user added content is greatly valued. Besides, free resources without a clear mode of capitalization / lifecycle may have a little user confidence.

Site conversion funnel review

You have a website that makes a strong emphasis on consumer how-to guides structured down to categories, which is arguably the only Substance content right now. The site also has a list of links to ‘relevant’ websites by category as well as dedicated pages for each website that obviously will have customer reviews & related info.

I came to the conclusion that such site architecture / content is best suited for attracting users through Organic search. Also, you obviously would think of consumer specific ‘add value’ when creating your pages. Therefore, a simplified preferred conversion route is

// Read up Consumer news article > Sign up.

In the research below I have augmented some of your original conversion steps to better suit your upstream goals of (1) Sign up, (2) Grab the whole family & (3) Network. For example, if a selection of ‘relevant’ websites was designed to enhance user experience, I presumed that you were planning to create a curated shopping / send coupons and benefits, etc option available to those who Sign up (otherwise the whole Sign up logic is incongruous as regards the consumer ‘add value’). Evidently, conversion point of view, the how to articles were planned to actualize a hypothesis need to share content privately within visitors. Additionally, they would be used to fuel a discussion between users.

Overall, the site looks more like http://familylobby.com/ with an obvious consumer bias than a common family network site like, for example, http://squarehub.com/. So, I tried to augment / [re]create the steps and tools that would bring the site closer to a social networking idea.

User Segments

Coming from your site’s architecture and the content, you have two major alternatives in content strategy, which have a direct bearing on your overall online marketing strategy.

First, concentrate on users’ micro experience and give them an option to enhance that experience. It’s like building a social site for fashionista where they can review /discuss apparel: they need to know what to wear and will only value experts or peers opinion (now laymen).

So, the micro experience is about how to do things. As regards the Organic search, micro experience is manifested through long tail search, for example, how to buy watch strap online. Normally, such a user is willing to receive an experience tailored to his issue and would appreciate a manual-mode content and, probably, other consumers’ thoughts. This type of users can lawfully be called problem oriented users or problem solvers as they search a web to find an answer to a particular issue.

Second option is to focus on the experience of more upstream users, for example, those who already search for a Private Social Network. This is the easiest way to gain a user who already knows what he / she really wants. And obviously, they would type in private / family social networks (subject) or share family photos safely (specific function of a subject). By contrast to problem oriented users, this segment is interested in a subject, i.e. family social network, and would choose between several available options.

Problem solvers would convert (step down further inside your marketing funnel) if you give them a piece of valuable substance, structured in how-to mode according to their expectation. You can further enhance their experience through offering the content they didn’t initially expect to see: shopping opportunities as well as reviews and recommendations by peers. This will make an ideal user experience that’s perfectly scaled down to the search query itself.

Upstream users would want to see a marketing proposition formulated in terms that ring a bell for them. Majority of [Private] Family Social Networks already address functions that a user may want: sharing data securely, etc, which essentially are the elements of their core marketing proposition. For example, see https://efamily.com/ . They specifically mention the following function: remember, share, connect, archive, and create.

Obviously, each function shall have an explanation and description.

This is an ‘assembly’ approach in positioning, which says ‘Hey, you want to, for example, bring a family closer together? Then, use Family Social Network’.

Value proposition

At different levels of core experience, you would probably want to put your Core Proposition in different terms as, from the bottom up, you are approaching more ‘prepared’ user.

First of all, private / family network is about keeping a close communication with your family members, sharing reviews / consumer insights, as well as getting organized through sharing assets: calendar, contacts, shopping lists, etc.

So, in general terms, the core marketing proposition may sound like Web Familiz it’s a place to organize family life and confidently share your best moments with your loved ones.

Obviously enough, you would want to update your current slogan (see below) to

  1. Better resonate to your selling proposition,

  2. Get users a little bit excited and intrigued.

Mobile App

Importantly, most of the private networks reviewed on the web (for example here http://mashable.com/2013/06/10/private-social-networks/), are either Apps or heavily rely on usage of their iOS and Android Apps.

Obviously, most of the content created by users is created through use of mobile phones: creating and sharing contacts, images, agenda, messages, etc. Spontaneous moments of life – an essential object of social sharing – are best captured and shared through mobile devices. This is exactly how a close communication idea is implemented.

That’s why you would want to create an App (if you have not done so yet), or feature them on the Main page (see example below).

Or as a client registers…

Marketing Funnel

Marketing funnel is the steps you want your user to take before conversion. Conversion is any meaningful action that hits your marketing goal. Obviously, the first closest conversion goal is Sign up.

Coming from your present content you, probably, want a user coming from Organic search to:

// Read-up the article > Sign-up > Discuss > Grab the whole family > Network. 

This funnel responds to Problem solvers' experience foremost.

The problem is that you don’t really want a user to Read up only. What you want them to do is sign up, participate in the discussion / leave reviews, then tell the whole family how great your site is, and then eventually bring the whole family in (and along the way generate more and more positive feelings toward your brand).

Despite that, you have been optimizing for one tiny part of a Marketing funnel and one Segment only. This is an instance of local optimization trap. Local optimization trap happens when you optimize for a specific part of your marketing funnel only – here the ‘Read up’ part only.

Obviously, you want content that has users land on your page from the Organic Search results. However, you don’t seem to really understand what you are going to do next and how it will bring the whole conversion metrics up.

Once you grab the attention of a problem solver through offering the ‘above expectation’ experience, you should explain why a user would care about the family social network at all. That’s when you give him / her marketing proposition tailored to his/ her needs.

For example: ‘Hey, we will give you a portion of relevant curated shopping opportunities if you sign up’. Yet, it has nothing to do with Private networks either.

So, you need a one more step: ‘Once you now know how to, for example, choose a wedding trip online (Read-up the article) and have a travel shopping suggestion (Sign up for shopping opportunities), we give you an option to share your agenda and make presents wish-list through using 100% private social network for a family only’ (Grab the whole family & Network). This is a final stroke that will complete your Conversion Funnel. As you see, it’s quite a complicated funnel and has a very high risk of user drop offs.

Yet, the Read-up the article > Sign-up funnel won’t work for the Upstream users at all. Now that you make an emphasis on Read-up the article step not only you optimize too local, you scale yourself down to one segment only, probably not the easiest one.

First, Upstream users just need a specifically tailored marketing proposition, not How-to article, because their need in family social networks has already been actualized. So, why does someone need a pretext to convert when he/ she is ready to convert?

Second, Upstream users could probably be really confused about an obvious consumer content bias of your web site.

Private social networks rarely market specific articles / posts. First, the social network usually hosts content produced by users themselves only. So, they have neither original nor curated content on its face except for those produced by users for their own purposes. Obviously, Private Social Networks will disallow user created content from crawling because indexing the Personal content does not correspond to the conceptual model of the Private social network. That’s why Facebook throttles back / tends to diminish exposure of its content to the organic search users.

So, presumably, the upstream users don’t need problem solving articles at all. What they need is:

  1. Features of your Family Network

  2. Plans / Pricing

  3. Demo or Overview

Currently, you don’t address that segment at all. What it would want to do is focus more on those who are ready to convert. Thereto, you should put Features and Benefits of your Family Social network at the focus of your Main page.

Current Main page layout overview

Example.com (<h1> Header) is domain name, not Title.

Site’s Description is not up to the point. It’s rather vague and general. Neither it speaks sense upstream users not can intrigue the problem solvers.

Searching on the Internet is really confusing. It’s not clear why it’s there and what meaning you attach to this Search option. Is it something valuable to a user? Didn’t your organic search user come from the Search Engine filter box like that?

The image is not fascinating. It must show a person in a picture, instead of a person staring at a picture.

Sections blocked beneath the Search Filter box don’t make much sense either. You would want to showcase the core features of your network here. ‘Personalize your Example’ is something rather unexpected at this point. How could a user possibly personalize something he /she does not even use yet? The Privacy Declaration (marked in red below) is very basic and does not really resonate to what a competent user would expect to see.

[Image omitted]

Top Stories section here is unexpected either. Why would a reasonable person searching for family social network want to browse articles like Where to buy a domain name? This really undermines a whole user experience if presented the way it is. Also, the overall look of Top Stories section content is not sexy.

The next section – Discover a Website of the Day - is given a disproportionately large space and prominence. You would want to give it a nifty look. Besides, there shall be a clear understanding why exactly those are sites of the day

Shared agenda, Contact and Consumer info are the most important part of content on your page. Still, they are showcased in the bottom of the page. So, you would want to create a salient and visually attractive section at the page Top presenting all the features of your marketing proposition. Importantly, what storage size do you offer?

The footer links section shall be visually different from the rest of the page, because presently it looks as a part of Shared agenda and other features.

The Main page’s Dos and Don'ts

Do’s

  1. Proper titles

  2. Relevant description (slogan)

  3. Empowering general pitch (video)

  4. Easy navigation to granular network’s features

  5. Visible Plans/ Pricing

Don’t’s

  1. Consumer biased content

  2. Too much brands usage

  3. Excessive use of Facebook share / like buttons

See a suggested layout below

Optimization for upstream users is rational. It works great when the segment is established within a market: you give them relevant content, and then – down the marketing funnel – engaging them through [educational] resources, nurturing them through your company culture and eventually converting them through a full product tour.

So, you would want to visualize the concept of your family social network – General pitch. Make it a video (see for example: http://wistia.com/). Importantly, to properly target the problem solver segment and make it REAL you would want to showcase examples of what a particular user can do with your network. Video or presentation mode will actually stand out of your content and the layout. It will grab the users’ attention and show them what it’s all about.

Also, in addition to the anchor video / presentation I recommend creating a series Granular Pitches to show how your service deals with major functions people want a family social network to perform. It can be a single Features page with granular sections or separate pages.

Your network’s granular Features:

  1. Family Organizer (currently, Shared agenda)

  2. Address book & Messaging (currently, Contacts)

  3. Family assets, including photos (no current proposition)

  4. Family shopping guidance (currently, Consumer tips / benefits)

As you can see Consumer tips/ benefits is only one of several options that might be available to your users. So, consumer content shall have a prominence more or less proportional to its weight to your value proposition.

Granular section / separate feature landing page’s Dos and Don'ts

Do’s

  1. Relevant titles

  2. Accurate description & keywords

  3. Granularity of user experience: one function / feature at a page / section

  4. Easy navigation

  5. Visible Plans/ Pricing

Don’t’s

  1. Too General titles and description

  2. Lack of proper selection of keywords

See a suggested layout below

The elements of your core marketing proposition may be the wholesome marketing idea of some other sites. For example, sharing photos privately with family is a selling proposition of sites like http://justfamily.com/.

Alternatively, if taken in isolation, some elements may not even have a user search experience you would lawfully expect - simply saying, people just don’t think that way when they Google. For example, https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=share+calendar+with+family search results are not rooted in private social networks experience as you might have expected. People just share a calendar with their family without using a Private Social Network.

Suggested layout: Main page

Once a user logs in you can switch to the Main page which less promotes your value proposition, more addresses specific user needs, for example 1) shows more tips in recently viewed categories and 2) shares ideas on how to use the network options a user currently neglects.

Suggested layout: a view of Features page section or a separate page

Design and content grouping ideas

https://efamily.com/ Your family’s home

Family social network functions are specifically highlighted: remember, share, connect, archive, and create (see below).

Obviously, each function shall have an explanation and description.

Share and connect:

Remember: family domain names.

Privacy

http://squarehub.com/ Where your family connects

The product description is easy to discern on page: a free mobile app to send instant private messages and photos.

For whom – easily discernible too: Families with active teenagers, professional parents, divorced parents and military families will love the privacy protection, efficiency, and virtual presence SquareHub brings to their daily communication.

The idea of spontaneous capturing and sharing moments of life is given through the right image.

The site sets its core proposition in terms that really speak sense ‘why exactly should user join\. Importantly, this resonates more or less to both problem solvers and upstream users.

For example, Simple for parents feature says

“All things family in one place. SquareHub clears the virtual communication clutter by providing a single application for messaging, scheduling and photo sharing for everyone in your family…”

Additionally, they show other features that matter for a potential user in a function-mode: Safe for kids - sharing settings, check-in location view; Fun – Family Bucket List, Drawling options, Star chart for rewarding kids. Other features are also given in bulk.

Overall, the http://squarehub.com/ suggests a way to create a functional network between you and your children wherein the message will surely come through and communication is a fun.

Also, they have a powerfully written About us page (http://squarehub.com/about-us.html). I suggest that you made your ‘About us’ page (http://gb.example.com/about-us.php) more compelling.

http://spokt.com/ Connect with your Family Privately online

They give a live demo how a social network looks & feels. This is great idea, especially for the Paid only subscription sites like http://spokt.com/ . A user wants to be absolutely sure that he/she likes what he/gets. So, apart from convincing a user through showing your features, a Live demo (like below) is great final stroke.

http://familylobby.com/ - Free family websites, forums, message boards and community

This is an alternative to http://myfamily.com website that has retired. Inherently, this is more of the old school web 1.0 site that has little in common with a usual Family Social Network. It’s based on the idea of creating a family site with widgets like family tree creation and restricted access. The Front end features Articles, Tips and Community Forum.

The website itself is basically fueled by the Forum (http://forums.familylobby.com/) where users can discuss issues with other moms and paps. Articles are obviously made to further engage users. Up to the day, the effectiveness of site’s Articles to attract potential users from organic search is rather limited. On average, articles are not ranked well.

https://zalongo.com/

It’s a reincarnation of Private family websites idea in the news context – with cross-platform App.

http://www.familycrossings.com/ - another one of family websites like http://familylobby.com/

They actually use the Shopping section wherein they would feature Deals from their retail partners.

Referral site funnel

Apart from my general observation on consumer content bias on the site, I shall note that the existent marketing funnel resembles referral marketing funnel. Marketing channel that can be easily determined from your sites logics is as follows: Organic search query > Land on a page > Read the content to the end > Visit Partner site > Buy

It resembles a classic Referral Marketing Funnel. This is something you want to do to earn commission from sales made by a referral client. Arguably, this is not something you plan for, at least, in the first instance.

Now, partnering sites' anchor block is really prominent and is located right after the article body. As shown in the SEO research and guidance report Partnering sites widget tends to create a bulk of pages with no content ‘add value’.

Also, there are no suggested ‘vertical’ navigation routes for a user other than visit the Partner site. I mean a user cannot go one step deeper down the site’s route except visiting a Partner site (vertical progress). So, this is what must have been your intent. Besides, the very idea of a Framed content is beneficial to and has been widely used in referral marketing funnels. So, it all comes down to showing that a Referral site funnel is already established on the site.

At this point I would like to emphasize the idea that you have to build a family social network in the first place and then mildly try to generate referral sales.

The very idea of referral sales is rooted in exchange of data (in the URL) between a referral and a receiver. Protecting data is the core concern of people who would come to the private network. Framed content that you use is a means to sneak the susceptible information, like payment details. So, many sites [and browsers] would break free from the frame and just drop off your toolbar to show the destination site along. This is done to protect a user.

So, if you want to recruit a new user through providing him a good experience on your [Front end] page, you would want to:

  1. drop using frames

  2. update the marketing funnel - direct your efforts to new user conversion

So you would want to strike the right balance between consumer user experience and the family social network concept. It means that the referral site funnel has to be dismantled. Instead, you would want to move to suggesting users accurate Shopping ideas and destinations based on their interests. This can be a curated shopping experience, for example.

Curated shop idea is when you manually pick shops and give them to your site’s visitors as they are interested in certain content (curated shopping). The subsequent sales are computed through Custom Campaign Google Analytics data and attributed to a referral, which is a form of commission sales.

For example, http://www.whowhatwear.com/ has built an audience of user that like their tips, advices and articles. So, their new curated shopping proposition (http://shop.whowhatwear.com/) is smart and effective extension of their content strategy – trending fashion and fashion persona.

Content strategy & pipeline

I suggest that you focus on creating articles that ring a bell to your target audience, i.e. families that want to keep closer together through sharing content but stay safe from information leakage. Obviously, you want to give a close eye to the occasions where a bulk of family content is created and shared: for example, birthdays, school events, weddings, trips, children birth, family occasions, etc. Topic selection focus: Potential families ‘get together’ events

You probably shall think more ahead and create a content that can be easily connected to your core proposition, i.e. a place to organize family life and confidently share your best moments with your loved ones.

So, you would want to approach every topic in the way that emphasizes functions that people would want you to perform, for example, remember, share, connect, archive, and create memories.

So, every story that you create must have a particular spin:

Subject: {memories | life moments}

Predicate: {create, share, remember, store}

Importantly, the content shall be up to the point one. For example, if traveling is made to create memories, then you shall address this point specifically. And your selling proposition shall be about how to create great memories one way or another. Importantly, beside every article you would want to have ‘How it works’ steps and ‘Real families’ stories to give a user the idea that your site can do it all.

Also, I recommend that you stop focusing too much on consumer-related, rational things, and get closer to emotions. Below is a list of popular search queries that your sites rank for. First, it's’ not even close to how a family social network keyword list may look. Second, it’s not effective – you don’t have a high ranking.

Let’s consider a simple example. You have an article ‘Where to buy mother's day presents online’ http://gb.example.com/articles/47/1973/where-to-buy-mothers-day-presents-online.html.

If you planning to get rank for that, it’s hard to do – see https://www.google.co.uk/#q=Where+to+buy+mother%27s+day+presents+online. They have 138 million results with websites like www.tesco.com and www.hallmark.co.uk at the very bottom of Top 10. Could you possibly get ranked higher that the websites you promote – at least not the way you do it.

Consider https://www.google.co.uk/#q=mothers+day+quotes+from+daughter . You can easily get ranked Top 10 if you made a proper article on Mother’s day quote instead. Importantly, this topic is really emotional and you can easily connect the article to your core proposition. So, why try difficult targets when easy ones are out there?

I suggest that you check a topic that you are considering right now against an easy matrix below.

It’s a table showing a key phrase, number of pages on the Web have that exact keyword in Title, and how many keywords there are on #1 ranked site’s body as well as title (if any). It shows the content management competition situation.

You would want to check key phrase that you considering [as your topic] against both (1) connectivity to your core proposition and (2) the search engine competition. Picking topics / key phrases with the lowest competition you can get ranked more quickly.

Keyword

Keywords in title (web)

SERP

Site + keyword (body content)

(keyword in title)

mother's day presents

4’880

5

1

mothers day quotes

10’600

4

0

mothers day quotes from daughter

1’190

2

0

The search operators that I used for mother's day presents example are below:

https://www.google.co.uk/#q=allintitle:mother%27s+day+presents

https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=site:www.dotcomgiftshop.com+mothers+day+presents

https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=allintitle:mothers+day+presents+site:www.dotcomgiftshop.com

Obviously, you would find yourself at hardship competing with online shops for consumer related queries: they have a way more content on virtually any search query BECAUSE list tons of products with relevant keywords in title / body. So, my idea is you need to target keywords where the keyword count in competitor body content is rather low. Preferably, the way you can match / outperform it.

Look the current keyword count on your site for mother’s day presents: https://www.google.co.uk/#q=site:example.com+mothers+day+presents . It’s really low. So, my next suggestion is about applicable content tactics to bring up the keyword number and content timeliness.

Creative newsroom

A creative newsroom is a content tactic that produces a load of time-sensitive, brand relevant content. Watch for trends / the calendar and identify the most trending content.

The challenge is content ownership and frequency. If you don’t own the content, you can only modify the original one - either through partition: divide a news story into several news pieces (increase number) or through adjunction: add up a piece of the story to another one and produce whole distinct piece of news (increase in originality / quality).

Also, you have to closely watch your best content producers and create your news TIMELY, i.e. right after the original piece was issued. So, for time sensitive content the idea is you may fall behind your competitors in number of stories, but you can’t do that in terms of frequency / timeliness.

I suggest that you create a calendar of events and sign up to those who will produce real-time content. When the time is right you’ll give it a spin through telling your story. For example, you may consider Calendar events, Community events, etc. To better organize different pieces of content on a related topic, you may use tags [in Wordpress]. Also, you have to empower users to make VISIBLE comments on the site. A timely and sufficient content together with a number of on-site comments will surely put you up in organic search.

Family stories

Engage your customers in sharing their experience with other people on your pages. This can be a form of Family Story foremost, i.e. How to work the network. Also, engaged users may opt to participate in Competition, Poll or Quiz, etc on seasonal and other occasions. So, this is a way you directly ask your community to share their experience with anything in order to bring it up to the Web Familiz page.

If you would regularly and explicitly outreach to users to help create meaningful and targeted content for the site – a result would be meaningful pages with fresh and interesting content.

It is a fun way to create content for the Travel and Sport section of your site too. For example, STA Travel’s team (https://www.facebook.com/STATravel?brandloc=DISABLE) regularly asks its community to share tips on their travel destinations, etc. It’s not about privacy lifting, it’s about sharing experience with peers and those who yet to become peers.

How-to tips (not consumer related)

This is something that goes natural with your platform. You have to follow the opportunities on the web and create a narrative or discussion. For example, let's say ‘How to drink tea the right way’. Importantly, it has to be a topic where there are several ways to solve the problem and a visitor may need a direction which to choose.

The implementation of ‘How-to’ content strategy is somewhat different from User experience above. While the latter is directed to your network users mostly and the content they create on the back end is subsequently brought to the site, the How-to strategy starts on the page of your site and can be commented on via any social network. So, you start a topic by asking question on your page. If you enable integration with Facebook, your users may respond right there. And bring their spin to the story. It will not contradict the value proposition; you can really convert new users from social networks if you choose a right angle (subject and predicate) within your topic.

One important way to encourage people to take part in the discussion is to tell them that IT'S A DISCUSSION, NOT A ONE WAY NARRATIVE. I suggest making your page REAL. I recommend that you employ a clear conversational mode instead of structured chunks of content.

So, the content has to be fresh and engaging, the pictures large and inviting, and the general tone – warm and conversational. As noted above, success around these objectives is measured not through Read-up metrics to the site but instead by Conversion.

Relevant Titles Use

Partner sites links

http://gb.example.com/articles/58/7293/how-to-buy-weightlifting-gloves-online.html are Partner Store and / or Top sites are irrelevant to the content of the Article

Consumer news category name is not directly relevant to its content. As seen here http://gb.example.com/topic.php?all the category features ‘How-to’ tips or Practical guidance content.

Consider amending the Similar articles Header. It does not sound up to the point for average ‘Mums and Paps’. Besides, you currently have another similar articles section on page (see below – one marked in red, the other - in orange). Obviously, those are not the same.

[Image omitted]

Most probably, you would want to name the Red Section something like ‘As featured in articles’ because it’s about the brands mentioned inside the articles / underneath the body.

As for the Orange Section, I would call it ‘Popular articles’ as they are apparently not related to the brands theme / categories.

The same concerns the Best sites Sidebar section (see above –marked in green). Those are better called ‘Top voted / Best loved sites’ of the week as apparently their ranking is based on consumer votes.

Importantly, Consumer Opinion is probably the most important part of your content insofar you call yourself a social network. Therefore, it shall occupy a more visible place than it does now – located beneath the Similar articles section (see below). Also, you don’t currently feature the opinions themselves, which would otherwise greatly enhance the quality of your content.

Image omitted]

The best practice is feature User Feedback beside the Brand logo and Description – to the Right (beside) or just below the brand description.

Privacy issue

Feature a Privacy section. Terms and Conditions page (below) also has to have a HTML formatted text content (images now), hyperlinks as well as should have a Terms & Conditions labeled link to it on the Footer menu.

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