I was excited to research China this week for our global social media class – my good friend Lucila is currently in Yanqing teaching English with an organization called Cultural Embrace. I love reading about her adventures on Tumblr, and I was glad to have an excuse to do a little more research on social media in China.
One of the sites I kept coming across was BabyTree. BabyTree is a social networking community for parents with children up to age 6 in China, and as of last year saw 12 million monthly visitors. Parents can visit the site to ask for advice, read product reviews, chat with other parents, blog, share photos, and purchase products. The site has been called the “Facebook for parents.” My friend has shared that every host family she has met during her travels has been so determined to make well-researched and thoughtful choices for their young children, so it’s understandable that BabyTree has seen so much interest.
With so many parents interacting on one site, BabyTree positioned itself as a highly desirable advertising space with a captive and well-defined audience. International companies such as Pampers, Huggies, Gymboree and Disney are among the advertisers who have launched contests and advertising campaigns with the site.
How BabyTree Became So Successful
Targeted Outreach.The first way BabyTree was able to become so popular in China was founder and CEO Allen Wang’s approach to marketing. Instead of spending a lot of money on advertising, he focused on getting people to talk about BabyTree in places where they already congregate, including online and offline communities and events. The site also tailors recommendations and advice based on each user’s location and the age of their child, so users feel connected and get personalized, useful information.
Integrated Content. BabyTree provides a variety of tools and resources to parents all in one place. Not only can they review the best products and talk to other parents like themselves, they can engage in conversations, share news, ask questions to medical professionals, and easily upload photos. Because of the photo-loading tools, the site has become one of the largest photo sites in China. Users never need to leave the site – BabyTree combines commerce, advice and social networking all in one site.
BabyTree has recently partnered with Ogilvy & Mather China to launch the China Moms’ Happiness Index (CMHI). The index provides in-depth analysis of factors that contribute to Chinese moms’ happiness, and market news. This tool will be extremely helpful for advertisers looking to reach (and understand the needs of) a very targeted audience, and will likely support increased ad revenue for BabyTree.
BabyTree’s ongoing success, coupled with the new data from the CMHI, set the stage for even greater reach and engagement. But to remain a trusted source and social network, BabyTree needs to stay true to their targeted approach and continue to offer tailored, localized content to its users.