Sunday, October 19, 2008

BabyCenter and Local Motors - What on earth could we have in common?


Susannah and I now have three boys below the age of 5 and we were turned on to BabyCenter during our first pregnancy. Another expectant mother told Susannah and she logged on for the beginning of an odyssey. Now going on 5 years, she reads (and reads to me) weekly emails from BabyCenter. They tell us, what our Baby might be doing at his age, what he might like, dislike, what we should look forward to etc.

It wasn't until I started to commune nightly with Local Motors community members from across the world that I began to understand the connection Susanah had with the site. It may sound hokey but our LM community births cars and BabyCenter's births young 'uns....literally. Certainly cars and children are not comparable in their care, value, trials, successes, but they are indeed both complex, inherently magical, deeply mystifying, and part of deep communities who strive (pine) to learn more and more about the objects of their desire.

Sound strange?

Let's look at BabyCenter's primary products (as per their website):

Pregnancy and Parenting Information, covering preconception through age 8, is organized by topic and approved by [BabyCenter's] medical advisory board. Parents can keep up with the latest parenting-related news and get expert advice, find the perfect baby name, use our height predictor or other useful tools.

Online Community lets parents connect with other parents and parents-to-be and talk about whatever they want, whenever they want. Parents can join in an existing discussion on a Bulletin Board or start a new topic of their own. Categories include Baby, Birth Clubs, Preconception, Pregnancy, Regional, and "Raising Great Kids." Parents can also chat live with other parents. Chat rooms include First, Second or Third Trimester rooms as well as a Scheduled Topic Room for specific topics, like toilet training or caring for a newborn. Compare reactions and ideas with other parents by participating in numerous polls.

The BabyCenter Store features thousands of high quality products, all accompanied by extensive guidance to give time-pressed moms an easier and faster way to research and purchase baby gear, supplies, and gifts. To help in this process, BabyCenter has compiled helpful checklists of parent-recommended essentials for every stage of parenting, from preparing a nursery and packing for the hospital to childproofing a home for a toddler. A favorite shopping tool, Parents' Picks, enables shoppers to see products other parents rate highest, as well as parents' comments on those products.

Basically the three ingredients of any web 2.0 profitable site these days gathered around a focus of the community: 1) info they post and you read, 2) info you share with others directly, and 3) stuff you can buy targeted based on what is going on on the site. In short:

1) They tell you stuff about x
2) You tell them stuff about x
3) They sell you stuff for x

You may chuckle, but this is big business at BabyCenter. You don't even have to use the whole site and you can still be hooked. For example, we do not use the live chat, but every week we read the emails telling us the things to expect from our children at their various ages. It may be somewhat general in that all children are different, but it gives you digestible, timely ideas and things to think about.

We strive daily to make Local Motors a place for people to learn about local preference, car loving, design, and soon car building. We will definitely take some hints from BabyCenter. Who knows, maybe someday you will receive a weekly email about the things that are likely going on in your car's life and what you can do about them.

That would be AWESOME!

Go BabyCenter, Go Local!


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