In Finland parenting platform Vauva, seems to be enjoying disproportional success, with even advertising sales rising in a tough market.

Managing editor Anna Ruohonen credits much of that success to its own community, explaining that the transition to digital is on-going, but only in line with the way that that community consumes its content.

What does Vauva mean to Finnish people?

The word Vauva means baby. The brand started 24 years ago as a print magazine and we’ve come a long way since. Launched in 1998, is now Sanoma’s largest lifestyle site and Finland’s eighth or ninth largest media site. In terms of content, we tackle mainly pregnancy, children and families. The most compelling content is created by our community itself. Apart from the obvious subjects we cover relationships, entertainment, work, health issues, and more. We have a quarter of a million visitors a week, of which 75 per cent is return traffic.

Last October we relaunched our website. Vauva now shares the site with Meidän Perhe (Our Family), its sister brand whose target group ranges from toddlers’ parents to teenagers’ parents. The print magazines appear 10 and 11 times a year. Vauva currently has 90,000 readers while Meidän Perhe has 119,000.

Our success is huge, especially considering that only 60,000 babies are born in Finland every year and that on average Finnish women don’t have their first child until they’re 28. Two-thirds of all expectant mothers use the widget on our website to calculate their due date.

Managing editor Anna Ruohonen

"Two-thirds of all expecting mothers in Finland use our website to calculate their due date" 

To what do you owe this success?

To a large extent, the credit should go to our community. A brand like this takes time to grow. You need to balance the management of the community with a need to develop its own culture. Our visitors feel free to have honest conversations, to say things they wouldn’t say face-to-face. The site has also cultivated its own unique sense of humour, which may be hard for first-time visitors to grasp. They have to grow into it.

"To a large extent, the credit for our success should go to our community" 

In addition to the website we have apps for both our magazines

What other types of media do you use?

On the website we use video, audio, blogs and discussion forums. Our most popular forum is called Free Topic – the name is self-explanatory. During live chats we can call upon doctors, psychologists, nurses and other experts for advice. In 2015, our most popular one-day conversation was about managing family finance. In addition to the website we have apps for both our magazines, an app for the Vauva pregnancy calendar and digital extras for iPad and iPhone. All our web content is cross-device.

"All our web content is cross-device"

How do you commercialise your brands?

Our advertising sales rose throughout 2015, in both digital and print format. Given our tough market situation that’s quite a success. Our sales people have done a great job.

The Vauva community is a good hub for product development, pilots and trials. We are studying new media products, as well as brand extensions such as a web shop and expert advice apps. Although the trials are small-scale, they can lead the way toward further digital transformation. We also cooperate with other Sanoma brands and channel traffic to their trials, meaning our community can contribute to the success of other Sanoma lifestyle brands. 

How is your editorial team composed?

There are 10 women on the editorial staff and all but one of them have children – I myself have two small boys. We are a tight-knit group devoted to our subjects, which makes this a good career. I am managing editor of both Vauva and Meidän Perhe. Minna McGill is our editor-in-chief.

What are the next steps into Vauva’s future?

The print run of our magazines is slowly diminishing, so we’re continuing our transition to digital media. In this respect, we’re keeping an eye on what’s happening abroad. But we find it more important to know how our own community consumes our content. They are the people who provide our guidance. We have found that they particularly appreciate long-form stories on ordinary families, with similar concerns to their own. Reading such articles reassures them, makes them feel secure, and makes them feel like good parents. In 2016 we’ll be trying out long digital-first stories in extra-large layouts combining text, pictures, video and audio.

Meidän Perhe is  continuing the transition to digital media

"Our community particularly appreciate stories on ordinary families, with similar concerns to their own"