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Care.com expands community on mobile with BigTent app


The BigTent iPhone app is its first

Family-services Web site Care.com is testing a mobile application for its BigTent online community platform as part of an effort to help evolve the mobile and social aspects of the company’s business plan. 

The iPhone app seeks gives BigTent — a network of local online communities for parents that Care.com acquired last year — a toehold in the mobile space. At the same time it will help users to the Care.com platform, which seeks to offer solutions for managinf family care. 

“BigTent had under-invested in mobile,” said Dave Krupinski, co-founder and chief technology officer, Care.com. “One of our first priorities was to roll out a mobile platform for BigTent.” 

BigTent has more than 1 million members who belong to its more than 1,700 local communities focused on parenting. Care.com acquired the BigTent platform last year for $700,000 in cash. 

More social 
The shift of the Big Tent platform to mobile follows by a few weeks Care.com’s acquisition of Citrus Lane, a social commerce platform for mothers. Citrus Lane offers curated products to its 400,000 members on a monthly basis, and encourages user recommendations. 

About a year ago, Care.com launched online payments, allowing users to make payments to their caregivers via the Web site or mobile apps. 

It offers other mobile apps both for people seeking care for their families, and for caregivers offering their services. Other Care.com apps include Karoo, which seeks to help parents, caregivers and loved ones stay connected with photos, logs and other postings. 

Care.com currently counts about half of its visitors from mobile devices, and expects mobile visits to BigTent to increase significantly with the new iPhone app. BigTent previously had an m-dot site that users were not always happy with, according to some posters on the platform’s Facebook page. 

With the new app, BigTent allows the same functionality it offers on its Web site, including the ability to browse and post in group forums, view group calendars and RSVP for events. Earlier this year, BigTent added the ability to share event postings easily on Facebook. 

Engaged parents 
One of the key attributes of the BigTent community is that its members tend to be highly engaged online, said Mr. Krupinski. One of the most popular groups is Twiniversity, an online forum for parents of twins and other “multiples” with more than 5,000 members globally.

"This is the first phase in transitioning to a homepage experience for all Care.com members, including both basic and paying matching subscribers," said Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Care.com founder and CEO, in a conference call with analysts. "We are very excited to bring a robust mobile community experience to our members to accelerate organic growth."

Care.com, which generates revenues through its payments service and other sources, hopes that by making BigTent communities more accessible via mobile, it will drive more of that traffic to the Care.com site. BigTent itself does not seek to generate revenues through the app, and has no plans to offer advertising on the app — although the Web site does carry ads that were a pre-acquisition feature. 

“We can offer Big Tent without monetization,” Mr. Krupinski said. “We feel the best use of BigTent is for community.” 

Final Take 
Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York

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Related content: Content, Care.com, BigTent, Karoo

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