Posts Tagged ‘Family Circle’

A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...

Image via Wikipedia

Today, I was fortunate enough to get to attend the Social Media Club Conference in Orlando. I have really developed an obsession over social media over the last few months — I’ve been interested in it since I first started learning about it and experimenting with it five years ago. But now I see the real possibilities it brings to people, to businesses, to causes — and to magazines!

One of the recurring discussions today was how social media builds communities around a topic of interest, whether it’s travel or culture or movies or local government. This ability to gather people based on a niche interest has always belonged to magazines — not exclusively, mind you, but it was our badge of honor, our trumpet to advertisers, our flag to hoist. When Web 2.0 came along, some publishing executives embraced it while others quaked in their boots or minimized it as a passing fad those “teenagers” cooked up. Social media is such a natural extension of magazines, and I’m glad to see many media outlets finally getting their arms around it. (Many magazines didn’t adapt and ended up losing their reader base to the magazines that went to where the readers were.)

Some good examples of magazine-created social networks/platforms are Family Circle’s Momster, How Design’s blogs and forums, Martha Stewart’s Community, O Magazine Community and National Geographic’s Blog Central. Of course, several magazines have also ventured into the creation of apps for iPhone/iPad/Android/Blackberry, including Men’s Health, ESPN the Magazine and Cook’s Illustrated.

Publishing executives don’t have to wait for their once-a-month trip-to-the-mailbox impression; they can touch their readers every week, every day, every moment the reader wants to be touched. It’s really an amazing time, an era where a publisher can create content that lands not only on the printed page, but also on a website, in a blog comment, on a forum, in a status update, inside an app, as part of a tweet, and onto the pages of an e-book. Isn’t that amazing?

What other examples do you have of a magazine that has created a successful social media campaign or platform? Does the availability of niche content online make you read printed magazines more or less?

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Family Circle (

Issue reviewed: Oct. 1, 2010

  • Published in New York, N.Y., by Meredith Corp.
  • Circulation: 3.8 million
  • 132 pages, perfect bound


  • median HHI: $52,516
  • median age: 50.5
  • 100% female
  • moms, especially of teens and tweens
  • 58.9% married


Family Circle hits on multiple levels of interest for moms: health, beauty, parenting, cooking, celebrities and style. The coverage brushes past each issue, touching on it only enough to keep its moms current and then leaving the heavy niche coverage to other magazines. This method makes it a good one-stop magazine for moms who don’t want 12 magazines a month. And it helps moms know who their kids are listening to or watching with interviews with and bite-size stories on teen heart throbs like Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber.


The design ranges from so-so to stellar throughout. On some pages, like 58-61, Let It Shine, I felt thrown right back into the ’80s with the dark colors, dated pose and hairdo, and justified type. But pages 90-91, The Anti-Cancer Diet, is eye-catching, informative and colorful — right where it should be. Also, Family Circle makes good use of black backgrounds, using them in small, powerful doses and set against strong contrasts of pinks, oranges and yellows.

What’s Best

  • Easy how-tos: Where some supermom magazines make readers feel inadequate just by looking at the crafts (“I’ll never be able to do that!”), Family Circle shows easy craft ideas (cakesicles, spray painted wreaths, cut-out letters, etc.) that most moms could do quickly and easily.
  • Food photography: I could eat the cantonese shrimp off the page of the Wok & Roll feature. The background is pleasing, the lighting is good, and all the veggies look so fresh. This photo isn’t out of the norm for the magazine, either; with only one exception (the macaroni and cheese dishes on 115 aren’t very appetizing, and the dark background doesn’t help the photo), the food throughout the magazine looks tasty, fresh and easy to make.
  • Momster: Family Circle has created its own social networking site, Momster, where moms can share stories, advice and support. The magazine promotes it but doesn’t go overboard. It does publish results from polls conducted on the site in the magazine.

What’s Worst

  • The vertical ads: In the back of the magazine, several 1/2-, 1/3- and 2/3-page vertical ads interrupt what would otherwise be great cooking/recipe features. It comes off as disruptive and annoying rather than appealing to the reader to buy the products in the ads.
  • Design missteps: As I mentioned, some of the pages just don’t hit the high bar set by other parts of the magazine. Maybe some sections got to go to a redesign meeting that other departments didn’t get to go to?  The style and food sections look strong, updated and smart, but the Inner Circle, Family section and that feature, Let It Shine, are outdated and out of place.

Overall Opinion

Family Circle’s design team could come together more and create a more cohesive, beautiful product for its readers.  The talent is obviously there because so many great pages are already being printed. However, Family Circle has great editorial content and hits on a lot of issues that are important to moms. Its Momster site is a great benefit for its readers. For these reasons, I give Family Circle a B.

I invite your comments! Check out the magazine or its website and tell me what you think of it.

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review