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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cincinnati Newspaper Publisher Hits Delete On 'Moms Like Me' Website: Pulls The Plug While Preaching Innovation

Adios Mothers, Says Enquirer's Parent Corp.
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Cincinnati Enquirer with much hoopla has unveiled a new section that is supposed to prod Rust Belt SW Ohio into becoming a seedbed for the innovation economy.  The Enquirer wants to transform its backyard into a garden where entrepreneurs, web startups and fresh ideas blossom.  Lost in this is that one of its own efforts to innovate -- a move that started with promise -- wilted the same week it began thumping for the innovation economy.  On Friday, the newspaper's parent corporation plans to permanently shut down its social media site called MomsLikeMe.  Its death proves that innovation is probably easier to advocate than actually accomplish -- a lesson that the Enquirer's cheerleading seems to have muffed, or at least played down.   MomsLikeMe was rolled out in the days when few heard of Facebook, and was Gannett Co. Inc.'s. effort to tap the social media buzz, a time when MySpace was popular (remember MySpace).  The story here is that practicing innovation is far more difficult than preaching innovation, which is a thread the editors have failed to follow out of their own office cubicles.  A Daily Bellwether reader writes:

"Leave it to Gannett, the Virginia-based owner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, to corporatize a popular -- and titillating -- Web venture and run it into the ground.  That's what's happening with Gannett's MomsLikeMe, a discussion site for mothers and mothers-to-be. Launched by the chain's newspaper in Indianapolis in 2006, it was cloned at the sister Enquirer as With nothing else quite like it in town, CincyMoms became the gathering place for people with questions about babies, baby products and pediatricians and such. Before long the site got its own editor/moderator, and CincyMoms became the company's darling of cross-marketing opportunities. But someone shrewdly realized that a website consisting of the revolving-door sharing of moribund content wouldn't last long. To make sure conversation threads were livelier than mere burping and diaper jabber, the Enquirer hired 10 "discussion leaders" to ramp up the traffic. And in a rare stroke of genius at a paper best known for its banality, one of the thought leaders was from a company that sells sex products."

Whoever joined CincyMoms from Pure Romance knew what he/she was doing. Most of his/her discussions, found on the 'Sex and Romance' tab, took people to the front-end of the mothering process, that is, to the sex part. A thread called 'The Other Entry' led people to debate the up- and downside of anal sex. Other experts joined a conversation about proper oral sex technique, including one surefire test of determining if the beneficiary had already gotten lucky (a lipstick ring!) A 2007 thread called 'Weirdest Place You've Done It' drew 136 replies and 7,416 readers. One called 'How Often is Normal?' had 40 posts and 1,765 reads.  All that disappeared a couple of years later when Gannett consolidated all of the Moms sites into one national forum called MomsLikeMe. Corporate diluted it with threads and surveys on politics, sports and schools. The dozen or so subject categories are limited to activities, motherhood, 'my life' and other non-salacious topics. Gannett is shutting it down Friday. What a great business-school lesson this would make.

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