Women are a force to be reckoned with in social media, according to a new study conducted by Harris Interactive (for Rebtel). This is key information for internet marketers who previously thought they were catering to a male audience. It also means that companies that usually spend most of their marketing dollars in more traditional advertising channels, such as print and television, to reach female audiences will find opportunities in social media.
Why Women Matter
The study provides clear evidence that women are savvy networkers whose propensity to engage in social media means that they are also more, well, social than their male counterparts. Women are inclined to interaction on a consistent basis. In fact, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project study on internet users, 69% of women who use social media log in daily.
As women’s influence in social media continues to grow, brand stewards must re-evaluate how they are marketing, not only to this specific demographic, but to all social media users. Because women influence social media, any online campaign that alienates the interactive and social nature of women is a prescription for failure. To this end, analysts who had previously taken a more traditional approach to social media marketing now have a reason to point to when evaluating failed campaigns.
Women Authorize Social Media Trends
Women use social media as an extension of home and work. Women blog, in particular, to chronicle their thoughts and opinions, offer advice and examine products and ideas. Blogging provides a means to make those assertions in a social way. Prominent bloggers such as Geraldine DeRuiter of the Everywhereist, and Molly Erdman, of Catalog Living, both of which were listed in Time’s The Best Blogs of 2011, are examples of the degree of influence women bring to the web.
That sphere of influence is also far reaching into social media technology. Tumblr, which has a predominantly young female following, is now more popular as a blogging platform than WordPress. A noteworthy difference between the two platforms is that Tumblr is more community-oriented with its built-in social media integration, and doesn’t require plug-ins like WordPress does. This noticeable shift is further evidence that women are not only influencing the blogosphere, they are authoring it, as well.
The Real World Is Key
What does this new data tell us about women as consumers? Bridget Brennan, author of “Why She Buys”, suggests that women respond to stories more than they do to product information. Women want to hear personal experiences as opposed to the science on the label. Marketers can use this information to their advantage by introducing real-world anecdotes into their marketing content and amping up their social media capabilities to stimulate brand awareness and generate feedback about new and existing products. The most successful companies, after all, hang out where their customers do.
A Plan That Works
When faced with the task of creating an effective marketing program for an emerging brand or making an existing brand more relevant to the social media scene, internet marketers must take marketing to women seriously. Women are the decision-makers, innovators and trend-setters of social media. Therefore, it follows that knowing what incites women to action and how they communicate must be high up on the radar.
It isn’t enough to take a traditional marketing campaign, color it pink and expect breakthrough results. Social media marketing must be purposeful and specific to tap into the habits and emotional triggers that are unique to women.
Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa is Founder and Creative Director of PixInk, a San Francisco-based design microagency serving a macro niche: businesses marketing to women, who drive 83% of purchase decisions. She nurtures emerging brands and strengthens iconic ones through powerful design, insight and a deep understanding of the female shopper. PixInk’s microagency structure works extremely well for iconic yet nimble brands such as Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Cat Footwear, Riverbed, Camel, Sephora and Picaboo, among others.