Social media is changing. Twitter may have started as a male-dominate platform, but a recent study by Beevolve.com found that women now outnumber men on Twitter by 6 percent. In addition, women users are more active, tweeting on average more often than men.
The subjects they are interested in are different too; family and fashion are more important to women, whereas sports, technology and entrepreneurship are more referenced by men.
Pinterest and Facebook are even more female-dominated. Forbes puts Pinterest's female following at anything between 72 and 97 percent, whereas Facebook is currently a 58/42 split, favoring women, with women more active than men in updating their profiles, sharing photos and commenting on statuses.
Many businesses would dismiss these figures as irrelevant to them, but it may be worth their while to take a closer look.
Women have increasing spending power, make the key purchasing decisions and are online talking about it. According to a report by She-conomy, women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases, including everything from autos to health care, and spend about $5 trillion annually, over half of the U.S. GDP. Affluent working women with family incomes of $75,000 or more are growing in number, and 94 percent access the Internet during an average month.
However, the report goes on to state that 91 percent of women said advertisers don't understand them. Are companies using the opportunities that social media provides to really listen to their customers? Are brands missing out on vital customer engagement that could help them focus their marketing more effectively?
Is Your Brand Listening?
While 8 out of 10 American companies are on Facebook, only 45 percent are on Twitter. Sixty percent listen to consumer conversations on social media, while 8 out of 10 American companies answer client questions and complaints via social media.
Brands can't afford to ignore women but despite the potential of social media to help companies better understand their audience, there still seems to be a gulf between what brands are saying and what their audience is interested in hearing.
Your Social Media Strategy
Engaging with your audience has never been easier. The following tips can help you learn more about your customers, and even reach out to previously overlooked demographics.
1. Social media is an unprecedented market research tool
Companies spend anywhere between 2 and 20 percent of their budget on market research, but too many are missing the opportunities that social media provides. Your customer base, many of whom will be female, are out there talking about what matters to them, what they spend their money on, and how they use products.
Social media is a market research goldmine just waiting to be tapped. You can learn not only about your existing customers but identify potential new demographics who may be interested in your product and find out more about their lifestyles, interests and spending power. Investing more resources in social media research could provide valuable insights into what your customers want from a brand.
2. Are you really listening?
Many companies only search for mentions of their own name, which is a good enough start, but misses a wealth of consumer information. Don't limit your searches to mentions of your own brand; you can dig deeper to find out what people who mention your brand are saying about everything else, too. What do they talk about, who do they follow, what is their gender, age, location, and interests? Are women saying different things than men, and how do they perceive you?
3. Are you overlooking potential customers?
Social media gives you an opportunity to learn about potential customers as well as existing ones. With women making up a growing percentage of active users, you can use social media as a research tool to learn more about new markets. Don't just look at who is talking about your company or products; search for people talking about your competition or similar products. It may be that your rivals are engaging with a demographic that you have overlooked.
4. Are you engaging with your audience on your terms or theirs?
By learning more about your existing customers and about potential new customers, whatever their demographic, you can tailor your content more to your audience. Who is talking about your company? Does your content reflect their interests? Changing your content could expand your audience and win you more sales.
5. Are you on the right networks?
By learning more about your customers - and your potential customers - you can focus your social media effort into where they spend their time. You might consider a presence on Pinterest if you hadn't already, or else re-evaluate the balance of your time and content. Knowing your demographic is key: how can you better engage with your customers?
6. Are you feeding back?
How is your social media strategy informing the rest of your marketing and product research? By putting your social media strategy at the center of your market research and customer engagement, you may find that your advertising speaks to your customers in new ways, and your products better reflect their interests.
Social media now drives sales like never before. For example, a third of online shoppers have based purchases on images found on Pinterest or other similar sharing sites. To overlook the potential of social media to generate leads, build consumer confidence and to engage with customers on a new level is to waste a growing resource for companies.
Brands as diverse as Dell, Hootsuite, Gatorade, The American Red Cross, Clemson University, and the Super Bowl have all set up social media command centers to not only put social media marketing at the heart of their strategy, but to engage targeted groups and demographics on the contextually relevant platforms in the right way with the right message.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Ekaterina Walter is a social media trailblazer and an author of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) bestseller, “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg”, as well as “The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand.” A recognized business and marketing thought leader, she is a sought-after international speaker and a regular contributor to leading-edge print and online publications. Walter led strategic and marketing innovation for brands such as Intel and Accenture, and is currently a co-founder and CMO of BRANDERATI. She has been consistently recognized by the industry and her peers for her innovative thinking, most recently receiving a 2013 Marketer of the Year honor (SoMe Awards). Walter was featured in Forbes and BusinessReviewUSA, and her opinion was highlighted on CNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, First Business Chicago, TechCrunch, WSJ and more. She sits on a board of directors of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).
March 19, 2014