Crowdsourcing our daughter’s name: The baby name poll

June 5, 2010

This post was originally published at Social [Media] Butterflies on the story behind the baby naming poll being run at

Social Media Butterflies should practice what we preach and a simple way to demonstrate my social media involvement is to share with you how my family has used these online social channels. In particular, in relation to naming our daughters.

If you are a parent, you will understand just how tough it can be to find a name for each child. Back in 2008, we spent countless hours going through name lists and crafting shortlists and then disqualifying names due to past associations, unfortunate initials (eg Sandy Anna Davis has the initials SAD, not really a great endowment) and tease-potential. The difficulty was that whatever my wife supported I vetoed and vice versa.

About two months out from birth, the coin dropped. As a passionate Leonard Cohen fan, I convinced my wife to let me harvest every female name used by Leonard in his songs and poems to enable us to craft another shortlist of names, names that I was guaranteed to support. So within a few days we had a definitive list of 23 names.

But then another coin dropped. This list was just begging to be turned into a poll. So, in quick time, our yet-to-be-named daughter had a WordPress blog and a poll thanks, ironically, to a free online service called Poll Daddy. And thus, was born.

This experiment of asking friends and family to vote on their preference from the list of 23 names seemed to capture most people’s imaginations. Within hours we had a raft of votes and by Alexandra’s birth exactly 1,000 votes had been cast.

We don’t really have 1,000 people in our circle of friends and family. What happened was that I shared the story with journalists I knew, in particular, Samela Harris from the Advertiser and Keith Conlon and Tony Pilkington from FIVEaa.

Furthermore, as a member of the official, worldwide, Leonard Cohen forum, I was able to share the story and poll link among people who got excited by the idea of influencing someone’s name through such a novel device. From a marketing practitioner’s point-of-view, this extra push given to the event was crucial because it was not just enough to have a novel idea, we had to be proactive about sharing it with interested people; target markets if you like. As I observe some social media “specialists”, I worry that they sell these social channels as the answer to all life’s problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. You still need to be strategic. But I digress.

Upon reflection, the name poll was tremendous idea. It will give Alexandra a very special story about her beginnings to share with friends. Secondly, friends and family became more engaged in the journey towards birth. And, finally, it might one day lay the foundation for Leonard posing with the little girl whose name was chosen from a poll of names from his works. Well, maybe not the latter, but it is nice to dream. (Hint hint to the PR community – photo op just begging for Nov 18, 2010).

As I write, daughter number two is on her way, due late July. We have another naming poll underway and you are invited to vote. The theme this time is wine and wineries because that is mum’s industry. And again, there are 23 names to choose from. So, here is my reaching out to kindred spirits to ask them to become engaged and involved. Will you vote? Visit Remember, we need to reach 1,000 votes to keep things even and save us from pre-birth blog envy 20 years from now.

PS In a further geeky development, during the first birth, I used my mobile to send Facebook updates which were broadcast via an RSS feed to appear on the Baby Davis Blog. This year, Baby Davis Blog has a Twitter account, so updates from mobile to website will take place via the Twittersphere this time round. If there were to be a third child, I am guessing some form of augmented reality technology would be around to transfer the updates or, horror of horrors, streaming, 3D video. On second thoughts, I think we’ll stop at Twitter!

– Steve Davis

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