Gransnet offers a grand choice

Influential parents' website Mumsnet has turned its attention to the older generation with the May launch of spin-off site Gransnet.

Gransnet: new launch for Mumsnet
Gransnet: new launch for Mumsnet

Using the same template that has proved so successful for Mumsnet, the new site is a place for grandparents to share problems, discuss issues and build a community based on a common interest in their grandchildren.

Although the site mainly consists of user-generated content, there are plenty of opportunities for PR professionals.

These include short editorial articles such as a guide to digital cameras in association with publisher Pearson, a weekly email newsletter, products for users to rate, competitions and working with the editorial team to highlight issues that affect older people. It is also a great tool to research what the older generation wants.

Iris PR director Laura Weston says: 'It can be hard for an industry such as PR that is filled with young people to fully understand what a modern grandparent is like. This is a great opportunity for PROs to listen to what this audience is interested in and to target it more effectively.'

As Fuse Communications founder Shoshana Kazab argues, this is also a valuable audience for consumer brands. 'Grandparents often have a high disposable income and will be looking for products that will make their lives easier when looking after children. They are an interesting demographic, as they are likely to be less price-sensitive than new parents,' she says.

But PROs have to tread carefully when targeting the site's users. Gransnet editor Geraldine Bedell says it is users who control the site and decide on content, while the editorial team works in the background to solve any problems that may arise.

While the editorial teams of Mumsnet and Gransnet share the same offices and draw on each other's resources, their users do not always share the same opinions.

'Gransnet has the same kind of warmth, support and sense of community as Mumsnet, but with a different tone,' says Bedell. 'For example, swearing is completely acceptable for Mumsnet, but Gransnetters have a much more hostile view towards it.'

Boudoir PR MD Sally-Anne Stevens advises: 'It is vital to avoid a patronising tone and to give educated, in-tune information to this market.'

Bedell also warns PROs against trying to advertise products on the forums, which form the bulk of the website. Anything that resembles advertising is swiftly removed.

She says: 'We don't see it as the job of PROs to be on the forums. We see their job as introducing us to brands with which we would want to work. You can start a conversation about your brand or ask for people's views on the forums, but you have to accept that you might not hear what you want.'

QUICK FACTS

Unique users: 20,000 (Source: Google Analytics)

Facebook fans: 400

Twitter followers: 500

Newsletter subscribers: 3,000

Launched: 5 May 2011

Contact: info@gransnet.com

 

A MINUTE WITH ... GERALDINE BEDELL, EDITOR, GRANSNET

Geraldine Bedell

Describe the website

It is for Britain's 14 million grandparents to get together and discuss issues that interest them, such as the Government, ageism in the NHS, style and beauty, what you remember from the 1960s or even men who are attractive.

Is there a dedicated person writing the editorial features?

There's an editorial team, but we are all about user-generated content. We are not an old-fashioned magazine format. We wait for things to happen on the forums and for users to generate topics and then pull some of it out as content. We are keen to talk to PROs about brands with which we would want to work.

Are you interested in competitions?

We are very interested in competitions and have several running currently. We usually ask for a prize valued at a minimum of £100. In return, PROs would get a mention in the newsletter, and something on the home and competitions pages. An enormous amount of publicity can be generated around competitions.

What should PROs do?

They must avoid going on to the forums and obviously pushing a product. But they can speak directly to users by starting discussions and testing users' views on their products.

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