A recentat SocialMediaToday.com concerned a survey and infographic by Ethan Block at Flowtown.com that demonstrated the many ways women are involved in social media. The evidence shows that over half of all adult women use social media at least once a week, and they use it to gather information on entertainment, health and wellness, and food. A significant number use the media to solicit others’ opinions on these matters and more. The knowledge that women are more regularly involved in social media than men is , but the presence of women as a communications and commercial force on social networks seems only recently to be gathering momentum.
Jessica Faye Carter’s post at Mashable.com includes quotes from male and female CEOs who see the future of market research as a combination of online & off, and targeting women. “‘Businesses are going where their customers are, in an effort to reach them in their environment,’ said Rashmi Sinha, CEO and co-founder of SlideShare. ‘[They] are also starting to share content and join in the conversation in the same way that individuals do.’ Conversations between companies and female consumers are moving beyond “what do you want?” types of questions. Companies are starting to use social media to secure real-time feedback from women on products, services, and marketing campaigns—sometimes before they go to market.”
One of the themes of these studies is that women are more prone to build relationships, real and virtual, and allow them to evolve in a myriad of ways, whereas men tend to reinforce business contacts, or gaming/entertainment contacts, or family contacts, or (you get the idea). Thus companies are encouraging women to get involved with them and/or their products, and hoping that women then use their own online communities to spread the word. For example, “Unilever used social media to launch their new Pond’s Age Miracle moisturizer in China, recruiting bloggers to try the product and share their findings. The strategy was risky because of the heavy usage of social media there, but it came with a huge upside: If the bloggers liked the product, word of mouth could lead to major success. If not, the poor publicity from blogs would make the launch difficult to salvage. The risk paid off and the moisturizer was a hit, leading to the adoption of social media strategies by other Unilever offices in Asia.”
Another shift in the genders’ relationships with (social) media is that women are taking to mobile devices in numbers at least equal to men. In the past, males tended to be the early adopters of technology. But women generally and quickly are becoming comfortable with much of the mobile technology of smart phones and iPad/tablet computers. “Between 2008 and 2009, the number of women using the mobile web increased by 43%, compared with a 26% increase in the number of men.” Though absolute numbers still argue that more men use such mobile technology, the fast growth of women in that market gives opportunity not only to the makers of these devices, but to the organizations, charities, and small businesses that use those device to reach their targets.
Like so many social-networking trends, Facebook is the barometer. Brette Borow, the President and Founder of best to reach women via Facebook. Her Top-10 list stresses honesty of product or problems (like website maintenance) as well as responding both to compliments and criticisms in a timely manner: “9. Remember: She’s a Social Shopper – Women also tend not to be shy about sharing their distaste about a brand or product or talking about their poor experience, so never take advantage of your fans. The last thing you want is your target demographic badmouthing your brand on a viral platform like Facebook. Keep your offers and processes clear and honest and always respond to feedback and criticism.”, posts – also at Mashable.com – on how
The opportunities to reach out to men and women certainly overlap in many areas. Yet tailoring messages toward one gender or the other as relevant to your organization’s message, product, or service can be critical to your success. The so-called ‘gender gap’ in social media is the reverse of what we tend to expect, because women are involved in more varied ways than men. Keep that in mind as your organization extends its online conversations.