April 29, 2008 |
Yesterday, I covered Disney Fairies, the social network for children as young as 6, as it was discussed during the Rich Internet Experiences and the Social Graph with the Disney Touch at Web 2.0 Expo last week by Jason Vasquez, Director of Technology, Family Group – Disney Online, but Disney doesn't stop at the kids. They know that in order to really ensure complete brand adoption, they have to get the entire family involved, and Vasquez covered the division he works for: Family.com.
Family.com is social networking for parents (well, lets face it, predominantly moms) with a purpose, and it has all the usual grown-up social networking tools: wikis, blogging, etc. Disney's plan was to build connected experiences; as they demonstrated with Disney Fairies, kids connect thru game play, while moms connect through sharing stories and communal knowledge. They refer to visitors to their sites as "guests" which you will hear at every Disney location, from amusement parks to stores to, evidently, online properties, and for the Family.com site, they have adhered to the principle that if you can't get it at a glance, it needs to be re-thought. The effectiveness and appeal of a simple visual metaphor is the goal on all their sites, and the tag cloud of "Favorite Clicks" as well as an easy-to-spot area for upcoming topics of interest (like Mother's Day) are evidence that they nailed it.
Vasquez described Family.com as what busy moms and dads are looking for to help with everyday life. Popular sections of the site are recipes, parenting information, and coupons: the things busy moms are usually looking for help with when they go online. Disney also realized that community for the sake of community doesn't work with parents, and that a rich user experience with compelling content is what ultimately drives participation.
The site features an alluring travel planner for parents, detailing the best vacations for families and giving you ideas for what to do in a specific location with age-based itineraries, videos of attractions, and reviews from other users. You can also rate attractions yourself to help other parents, as well as save items you find interesting to a customizable travel plan to plan your own itinerary using the site. Family.com has the nearly-ubiquitous wikis where you can share knowledge, answer questions, and share stories about your children, something that it seems most parents love to do. I could also plan a birthday party, plan my menus, or a host of other things. I do find it a bit ironic that under the "how to" for TV-free week they have a blurb about High School Musical 3, knowing that the first two installments were on television!
The next steps for Family.com are being designed with the intent of extending and enhancing opportunites for people to connect for a purpose. Disney is trying to make sharing fun and easy, but again, purposeful. The current site also features photo galleries, contests, creating and customizing groups focused on specific topics, and other ways to share user-generated content, as well as the ability to create a "family portrait" avatar, much like children can create their own custom fairy icon on the Fairies site. See how it all ties together?
As you move through the sites on the Disney.com online property, it's evident how much thought and planning have gone into making the sites integrate seamlessly. As a parent who has supervised my children on the Disney online sites, it's amazing how similar the navigation is for parents, and how similar some of the features are, like the avatars I mentioned above. I expected to be underwhelmed, having seen just about all, and participated in most, of the parenting sites online, but if you've spent any time with your children on the sites geared toward them, it's downright devious how easily they rope you in.
Coming up tomorrow: the newly launched Disney eXtreme portal.