by Kim Lavine
I have seen the future of media, and it is social and run by women.
That’s not just my opinion, that’s the opinion of a recent study by Rapleaf, a company that provides research on search and social networking,
Women: Top Early Adopters of Social Media
The study found that when it came to social media, women are again at the forefront as early adopters, far outpacing men in sheer numbers. The social media landscape is changing so quickly, it’s hard to pin down a precise definition of it, but it can be explained generally as any primarily Internet-based application that allows people to create or maintain relationships with each other while communicating in myriad ways in a virtual environment.
Some of the oldest and most popular social media platforms are MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn, with Twitter and Ning seeing exponential growth in the last year. But that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s out there now, and what’s currently being developed for tomorrow.
Women: Driving Innovation
What’s important to remember is that it’s women’s desire for social interaction with each other that is driving this phenomenon of innovation in both medium and content.
The Rapleaf study looked at the social media habits of 13.2 million people.
- Its conclusion was that not only do more women than men currently use social media, but the next wave of innovation will likely target women, widening the user gender gap even more.
In fact, the study concludes that if you’re going to create a new web site and you want it to go viral, or become wildly popular, you’d better target women.
Specifically, it found that
- among twenty-somethings, women and men were just as likely to be members of social networks, but the women were much more active than the men.
- Men above age 30, particularly married men, aren’t even joining social networks (with the exception of LinkedIn) in large numbers, and if they do, they’re typically not hanging out there.
- In comparison, married women are joining social networks in droves, with women between the ages of 35 and 50 making up the fastest growing segment.
Men are Transactional: Women are Social
The study found that an explanation for the disparity between genders comes down to this:
- Men are transactional and women are social.
- Men tend to look at social interactions online as more of a business relationship that yields a desired effect, whether it’s helping them make connections for their job, purchase something, or provide them with the information they’re looking for on news, sports, or financial markets.
- Women, on the other hand, go online primarily for the personal relationships, including communicating with friends, posting pictures and videos of family, or finding other niches of support or friendship.
Women use social networks to get information, too, but the information they rely on most of the time comes from their friends or peers in their social network, a phenomenon being called “conversational marketing” by the advertising industry.
- The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 85 percent of online users in the United States have received help from their online network when making a big decision.
- They call this “networked individualism,” and suggest that people get advice from friends and others from their social networks.
- Therefore, many marketers and advertisers are realizing that every dollar spent marketing to women has a much wider return on investment than that same dollar spent advertising to men.
How social media mania will continue to reshape the future of media as a whole is something that nobody knows for sure right now. The only certainty is that women are in the driver’s seat.
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