It has been a hectic start to 2012 for Lucia Ballas Traynor (photo and in this youtube webisode) who led the launch of MamasLatinas.com earlier this year. In the below extensive interview Lucia tells us about how she is implementing relatively new concepts such as “Community-powered”, “Two way dialog” and “Social media integration”. She also talks about MamasLatinas content strategy and early usage stats. Interestingly, she tells us that “early metrics indicate that the largest user segment is bilingual/bicultural yet the biggest opportunity is around the Hispanic-dominant mom who has fewer options available to her.” Read all about it below…
Portada: What is your main motivation behind the launch of Mamaslatinas.com?
Lucia Ballas-Traynor, Co-Founder and EVP of Mamas Latinas: “ The launch of MamásLatinas was motivated by three main factors: First, Hispanic moms are a priority demographic that is currently underserved – by 2014 one in four moms online will be of Hispanic heritage. Second, MamásLatinas fills a major gap; no mainstream digital or social destination is satisfying the Latina mom unique need and interests. At CafeMom, we conducted a major national study for Hispanic moms and found that 92% of Hispanic moms across the acculturation spectrum believed there was not currently a website that clearly met their needs. Finally, we are uniquely positioned to succeed, under CafeMom's leadership position and success as the leading mom media company in the United States.”
Portada: Can you please explain your content strategy
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “ Our main content driver and differentiator is that we are powered by community. Everything we do is powered by the two-way dialog with our moms – that's one of our key differentiators in the market. All featured stories and content reflect the conversations we see taking place in the MamásLatinas community.
Under the umbrella of MamásLatinas, we host a dynamic community across more than
twenty groups, and ¿QuéMás?, our content platform. Moms could be as active as
following conversations or posting questions or asking for advice; or enjoy a great
read through more than 35 original articles a day, both Spanish and English, all of
them robust, high-quality, and extremely engaging for her. We have a team of community managers that push and inspire our moms to talk and support each other. The postings are in English or Spanish, depending on the language of preference of each user. Sometimes you will see a post in English and a reply to it in Spanish. We like that. It feels very real, and part of the kind of interactions they will have with their family or friends. In terms of groups, we have broad-appealing groups, where conversations cover a wide array of topics (Bienvenidas, LaPlaza; PuroEspañol), or by the age of their kids; or by passion touch points or topics (Beauty, Home, Food and Entertainment).
¿QuéMás? presents the great talents of our network of staff and freelance writers,
guest bloggers and columnists who embody our market and have a pulse on the
conversations taking place that matter most to our Latino community. The articles we
publish are opinion pieces that cover the topics moms don't want to miss out on –
from news and culture, to fashion, food, parenting and more. We currently have 12
Portada: How many times a day is the site refreshed?
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “ MamásLatinas is constantly being updated with new content from bloggers, and with the dynamic happening conversations in the community. If there's a piece of big news that took place that day, you will see the different conversations in the specific groups where that news is the most relevant start to fire up. We will cover it from our particular point of view with a piece on ¿QuéMás?, which moms add their comments to,creating a dialogue. We are really fueled by the moms and their interests and passions themselves, and we make a big effort in staying true to our two-way dialogue promise. If moms are asking for it, we will respond accordingly in real time.”
Portada: Do you have early usage statistics. Uniques/page views per visitor, Length of visit etc…
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “We just officially launched the site fully on January 23rd. We have seen some numbers internally, and we are excited as they look very promising. We will be very happy to come back to Portada and discuss them in detail once we are able to collect enough data to safely extrapolate true learnings.”
Portada: Up till now, do you have more visits to the Spanish site or the English site? What is the ratio?
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “It's still a little bit early to have definite results, but what we are seeing is a nice mix of Spanish-dominant, English-dominant and bilingual members. MamásLatinas was built with a very specific bilingual/bicultural approach. So besides language proficiency, we know that what is resonant/relevant to a Spanish/Hispanic Dominant Latina who is learning to navigate the American system and lives in an informational void is different from English-dominant, more acculturated Latinas who are interested in getting closer to/passing on her cultural heritage and values. Metrics indicate that the largest user segment is bilingual/bicultural yet the biggest opportunity is around the Hispanic-dominant mom who has fewer options available to her. We are careful to keep a good balance in order to appeal to all Latina moms, regardless of acculturation or language preference.”
Portada: How many visits do you get from Latin America? Are you targeting that market if so how are you monetizing that audience?
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “We are focusing on Hispanic moms in the United States right now, though we appreciate that there will be some members coming from Latin America and other parts of the world. Perhaps in the long term there's an opportunity to go beyond the US; but right now the focus is in the US.”
Portada: How does the site integrate Social Media Networks? How challenging has it been to set that up?
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “MamásLatinas breathes and lives social – it powers everything we do. Our very own foundation is the conversations and the community amongst our members. We complement and extend the reach of these conversations and hot passion points through social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. But in comparison to a Facebook, for example, we deliver to them a more relevant space, and more relevant set of connections, so she can focus exclusively in thriving in her accomplishments, drives and needs, and everything that defines her and also challenges her about being a Latina and a mom in this country. As we were working in recruiting members and driving selective buzz during pre-launch, we opened three Facebook pages to start to build the community and kinship with Hispanic moms we wanted to stay close to once MamasLatinas.com launched. We have almost 30,000 fans to-date and they have been a great crowd to talk to. They are also very active in their comments and likes, always engaged and awaiting our posts. In a way, orchestrating the social effort has not been any effort at all. This consumer has been starved for this kind of community and relevant content, and we have felt incredibly welcome and relevant from day one. Also, our blog posts are all easily shareable on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Google Plus. Plus the homepage of MamasLatinas.com and the main page of ¿QuéMás? feature links to our Facebook and Twitter pages to keep driving integrated communications across the board.”
Portada: Do you have your own sales force or do you work mostly with ad networks of Café Moms sales team?
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “ Today, we rely on the efforts carried out by the CafeMom sales team, and we couldn't be any happier. They have done a tremendous job getting the word out there, signing up founding partners even when there was not even a site. We anticipate continuing to leverage CafeMom's front lines sales team who has great relationships with digital clients and agencies and deep knowledge of digital. However we have dedicated personnel in client services and solutions who deal with the development and execution of customized programs that are groundbreaking in Hispanic.”
Portada: What experience/lessons has Cafe Mom in terms of content, website usabilitiy /architecture that MamasLatinas may be able to profit from?
Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “We strongly think there are a few major lessons we can say MamásLatinas leveraged from CafeMom. Our writers express their opinions – every writer is encouraged to express her point of view on the topic she's writing about. When CafeMom first tested posting content, we stayed away from expressing opinions. We then realized that moms appreciate hearing other moms' points of view – whether they agree with that opinion or not. Now we welcome many diverse and expressive voices, both on CafeMom's The Stir, and on MamásLatinas' ¿QuéMás?, and the experience is much richer because of it. In addition, groups provide moms communities to find moms like them – our communities are broken down into a number of topical groups that help moms find topics they're interested in and other moms they'll connect with. Whether a mom is pregnant, looking for a good recipe for dinner, or just wants to chat, she'll be able to find other moms she connects with. Finally, our communities have hostesses – much like a good cocktail party, a good community is made better when there is a hostess who can welcome guests and keep the conversation going when needed. Usually moms have plenty to say, but sometimes they just need a friendly "hello" (or "hola") to get started.”