Growing Companies

Debba Haupert, a corporate marketing executive, started Girlfriendology in January 2006 as a personal blog to honor and tell stories about her own girlfriends, including some who were battling cancer.

But little more than three years later, Haupert is a full-time “girlfriendologist” with a multi-media story telling platform that includes a blog with 12,000 to 15,000 unique views per month, a website, a weekly online radio show, a Facebook group and Twitter page with nearly 11,100 followers.

Utilizing the latest online networking and communication tools, Haupert describes Girlfriendology as “the online community for women based on inspiration, appreciation and celebration of female friendship.” 

From offering stories of women overcoming adversity or having fun, to suggesting gift ideas, to giving women a place for women to give each other career and childrearing advice, Girlfriendolgy gives new meaning to the term “tech support.”

“When I first started it, it was more in honor of and to inspire women. I had a job, I thought it would be a good one, and Girlfriendolgy was something to have on the side. Then I found that women were so appreciative of it and wanted more of that,” said Haupert, of Hyde Park.

Girlfriendology gives women a place to explore female friendships and all the fun that goes with them, she said.

“So many people are doing amazing stuff with their entrepreneurial dreams, and with their families. This gets them to connect with friends and make time for them. We all need to do that,” she said.

Among the sites recent offerings were:

• A Mother’s Day contest asking readers to send in a story about how their mom is their best friend.
• A weekly blog update by “Girlfriend Heather” detailing her and her two girlfriends efforts to lose weight through a boot camp exercise program, and
• A blogtalk radio interview with Barbara Jones, founder of  One2One Network, a women’s web marketing site.

Haupert left her corporate marketing job a year ago to operate and grow Girlfriendology full time. She also employs a small group of contract workers to keep the site moving, including an assistant, writers and editors. She’s is now looking for a summer intern, and plans to hire an employee or two within a year following an expansion of the site that will include a social networking component.

Crucial to the Girlfriendolgy’s success is that it’s not too product pushy, and relies on real women offering touching, uplifting stories and advice. Haupert works to keep the site positive in tone and closely monitors it, limiting the number of men and companies who join the Facebook and Twitter groups. Also key are the uplifting stories she gets from women who believe in the ideas behind the site.

A majority of readers are from Greater Cincinnati, but Girlfriendology’s influence is spreading. Haupert co-founded Cincinnati Women Bloggers, a website and monthly meet up of female bloggers to connect, learn about technology, about what’s hot in the blogging world, and to form friendships. She’s also becoming a frequent speaker on social networking and friendship issues.

Girlfriendology’s  readers regularly visit the site to share their own stories and information on everything from how to use Twitter to finding the perfect birthday gift for special friends. It’s what Haupert calls “girlfriend buzz.”

And Haupert’s marketing background factors into the site, and businesses looking for a way to effectively market via social networking are taking notice. They know women influence 82 percent of consumer purchases.

For instance, the site features a seasonal gift guide based on recommendations from site users. Companies sponsor it, and the sponsor gets a small feature as part of the guide. Girlfriendology also accepts banner advertising and products such as books and gift certificates are given away in monthly contests. A section of the site is also devoted to product reviews. “You can trust your girlfriends to review a product and tell you the truth. We review home, personal, child, baby, food, etc. products for an honest review from a girlfriend,” Girlfriendology proclaims.

This summer, plans are to add a social networking component where women can share product reviews and set up personal profiles in late June. She plans to unveil the revamped site at this year’s BlogHer ‘09, a preeminent national blogging conference for women.

“That will enable women to connect more with each other and share advice. You trust your girlfriends. They’ll tell you if they like a product or not,” she said.
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