NEW YORK MTV Networks’ three-year-old parent-aimed social network ParentsConnect.com spiked in June, reaching 1.8 million unique users, per comScore, an increase of 53 percent vs. the year-ago period.
Executives from Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, which manages ParentsConnect, attribute the traffic surge to a recently launched editorial series of “boot camps” that have attracted new users and advertisers.
These boot camps are typically monthlong service-oriented guides centered on specific tasks or goals. This month, ParentsConnect is featuring a Brain Builder camp, centered on helping kids keep their minds sharp during non-school summer months. General Mills’ Toaster Strudel is the Brain Builder sponsor; other recent camps have been sponsored by Huggies Pull-Ups and SunnyD.
The boot-camp concept is the brainchild of Tanya Van Court, ParentsConnect’s svp and general manager. Last October, Van Court enrolled in a local fitness boot camp to lose post-pregnancy weight. “I thought, this is so fantastic, I need this in every aspect of my life,” she said. The site began testing the boot-camp concept the following month before rolling out the features in April. “For parents that are struggling with other aspects of their lives, these boot camps make total sense for us with who they are as moms,” Van Court said.
According to Nelson Boyce, svp of online ad sales, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, advertisers are drawn to the offerings because they allow them to tap into user-generated content that is structured and monitored (expert “trainers” assist users who sign up for various camps). “Because its ‘led-UGC,’ it works for brands,” he said. “It’s really around a specific task, which keeps it fresh. There is a reason to come back and tell other people about the content. Outside of the home page it’s the site’s largest source of traffic.”
Next month, ParentsConnect is planning to launch a makeover-themed camp. That one will be focused less on childcare and more on moms, an audience the site is looking to target going forward.
According to Van Court, that new focus is already visible in the site’s just launched back-to-school content, which is being sponsored by apparel company H&M. “As parents, we all know our own happiness is really important,” she said. “And once your kids go back to school the question often becomes, ‘How do I get myself together?’ Parents concerns often get lost.”
Some of those concerns are addressed in the site’s new back-to-school section, which also features an H&M sweepstakes. Later this year, ParentsConnect will introduce more parent-specific fare, such as sections covering health, beauty and travel.