More articles by Kenneth Musante
Sisterwoman Starts Up Social Networking Book Club
Sisterwoman is just the latest of many social networking sites that have appeared in recent months. Like every new niche social site, finding ways to generate revenue in-line with the site’s social methodology is a bit tricky. There’s always contextual or banner advertising, but the community-building nature of a social networking site has so much more to offer potential sponsors.
Sisterwoman is the “First Online Community to Celebrate Women & Their Girlfriendships,” building and supporting online friendships between women. Their core social model is built around the idea of developing “friendship circles,” or groups of women who identify with each other and share common interests. Each circle provides message boards, email, media sharing, and other relationship-sustaining interactive tools. The demographic targeting value that Sisterwoman makes available to sponsors is obvious.
In fact, a content-sharing partnership like this was so obvious to book publishing house Simon & Schuster that they contacted Sisterwoman before the site even launched to talk about doing some sort of book-related partnership. “When we first announced the formation of Sisterwoman, Simon & Schuster contacted us and said ‘we’d like to be a part of this,’” says Sisterwoman co-founder Allie Savarino. “I think from the beginning, they have really demonstrated a willingness to really reach out to and support women and their girlfriendships. It seemed like a really natural fit for us.”
As their first non-advertising partners, Simon & Schuster’s Free Press is sponsoring Sisterwoman’s new book club circle. Participants will read and discuss What did I do Wrong? When Women Don’t Tell Each Other the Friendship is Over, a book by Liz Pryor and published by Free Press. What Did I Do Wrong? Speaks from Liz’s personal experiences, examines the painful nitty gritty details of female friendships. It describes why girlfriendships sometimes fizzle, and how to maintain them. It’s a near-perfect demographic match, something that a good social networking partnership should strive for.
The primary value of a partnership like this to a site like Sisterwoman is the ability to grow their community and content base. “There’s an advertising component as well, but… what is most important to us is the content partnership,” says Savarino. While the Sisterwoman book club discusses and promotes the book, Simon & Schuster is promoting Sisterwoman by including details about the book club both on their Simonsays.com site and on their email newsletter. Liz Pryor herself is promoting Sisterwoman to her community of fans. For Sisterwoman, it’s an opportunity to not only increase the size of their community, but also to increase the amount of content to match.
Like other Sisterwoman circles, there are message board discussions. But that’s not all. “This circle has a couple of unique elements,” says Savarino, “Free Press and Liz Pryor have offered a chapter of her book free to the Sisterwoman audience. She’s also sharing stories that women have been writing to her from all over the country in response to her book about what’s happened to her and things like that. She’s also going to use that as a meeting place to post where she’ll be for book signings, and then I think, most excitingly, doing live chat within the discussion board, answering women’s questions about this.”
Liz Pryor also seems enthusiastic about the partnership. “We’ve proven as a gender, we are word-of-mouth people, women,” she says, “And when something strikes us, that moves us, we tell each other, and this seems to be such an amazing, fast, easy connected way to do that, that I have great hopes for this.”
Since the book club announcement, Sisterwoman has been getting requests from other publishers wanting to work out the same sort of deal. It’s a great opportunity for a social networking site when they find sponsors that mesh. But, says Savarino, “it’s less about ‘whose willing to foot a bill’ and more about ‘what’s the right message to complement our audience’s needs.’” The site currently has other content partnerships coming down the pipe. According to Allie, the next 21 days or so should see additional partnerships in the health & beauty and astrology arenas.
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