If you build it, they will come… but what if they don’t come? That was the question Lisa Belkin (above, left), contributing writer, The *New York Times* Magazine and Motherlode blogger for NYT, asked at the final panel of the day at our first EconWomen conference. Starting an online community from the ground up has its difficulties, but the panelists agreed women want at least one thing — to connect. Some highlights:
— Starting out: Brandon Holley, GM, *Yahoo* Shine, pointed out what she calls the 3 Cs: content, conversation and community. Once you create good content — with personality and voice — it starts the conversation. Soon after, the community starts to grow. The reason Heather Armstrong‘s blog, Dooce, works, Holley says, is because it makes readers feel they know her. Maureen Bergmueller, director of marketing for Disney (NYSE: DIS) Family.com, says the site began with the primary goal of creating an environment in which women can relate to one another, establishing commonality that’s rooted in content.
— Tricks of the trade: Aside from the usual elements of a social community, Bergmueller said Disney Family.com’s wiki, encouraging users to post topical photos and asking Twitter-like questions of the day helped build up the site, while Holley said Shine relied more on having strong editorial content, stressing that sometimes women just want to hear what another woman has to say. Joni Evans, CEO and co-founder, wowOwow, said polls, questions of the day and comments of the week resulted in the best feedback, and Stephanie Dolgins, SVP, Women