Martha Stewart, the paragon of expertise as content, is adopting the style of social media for her next Web site -- to be called "Marthapedia."
The site initially will be seeded with existing content from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, such as Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, but will open for information and suggestions from the public, Ms. Stewart told an Advertising Week audience in late September.
"It will be a very interesting site," she said, with editors at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia checking to see if the public's ideas are better than their own.Her comments, the most direct yet on the social-media site her company is developing, came as part of a broader talk with Pat Mitchell, chief executive of the Paley Center for Media, formerly the Museum of Television and Radio.
When an audience member asked what role advertising plays in the success of Martha-Stewart-branded products, Ms. Stewart didn't give the answer some creatives might have preferred.
Product quality is the whole game, she said; advertising serves only to inform people that her products exist. "You can't fool them on quality," she said. "The consumer knows."
Her description of Marthapedia was the most remarkable part, however, not least because it revealed the latest thinking at a company that helped pioneer synergy and multiplatform media.
It's still an enterprise fueled by instructing customers -- witness the Martha Stewart Cooking School book. And its founder evidently continues to enjoy bringing her perspective and ideas to others. "I especially like being the creator and the creative influence," she said during the talk. But social media have become such a force so quickly that any media company has to explore its options.
"My MySpace is very lively," Ms. Stewart said. "Who would have guessed?"