10 years ago I was writing my dissertation on Women and the Internet. It was a revelation then how women were using this relatively new medium (new as in 'popular and accessible') to communicate, connect and network. Previously technological gadgets, including computers, were largely bought by men - toys for boys. The internet changed all that. Last night I attended a talk by Miss Aniela, whose rapid rise to fame was due to her immersion in social media, firstly by using Flickr and more recently Facebook and Twitter. Those interested in building up their online presence using social media may be interested in our training courses.
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Now 10 years after the internet changed the way women interacted with computers another wave of change is upon us. Social media networks have seen phenomenal growth in terms of numbers of users both for individuals and business. The biggest growth can be seen in the number of women using social networks on a regular basis. Women now outnumber men on the following networks:
- Facebook: 57 percent women users.
- Twitter: 57 percent women users.
- Flickr: 55 percent women users.
Source: Information is Beautiful
Why Do you Think That is?
Look at the statistics from the 2009 Women and Social Media Study By BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners
Women who blog were asked what motivated them to blog. These were the results:
- 76% for fun
- 73% Express myself
- 59% Connect with others like me
- 54% Personal record or diary
- 37% To give advice/educate
- 33 % Positive reactions and feedback from my audience
- 29% Establish or contribute to a community
- 25% To reach large audience
- 22% To persuade others/advocate
- 21% Promote my skills or my business
- 17% Earn money
I think, although I have no data to back this up, that if you asked most businesses why they would consider using social media to promote their business you could practically reverse the above stats. It's not that it's a bad thing to want to be successful in business, to want to promote yourself, or to make money or sell. It's just that in order to do these things using social media you need to do the other stuff first - listen, give, communicate - otherwise it won't work.
Now look at what makes social media magnets (the influencers) so popular. What is it that makes users want to connect with them?
- They listen
- They communicate
- They contribute
What mistakes do businesses make when using social media that discourage people from connecting, or persuade them to disconnect?
- They focus on selling
- They don't listen to their audience/clients
There are many other reasons for women making the most of these platforms; the playing field is now open. It costs nothing but time to create a presence on these networks. Take Miss Aniela, the screen name for Natalie Dybisz. Her use of Flickr to upload, communicate, share, discuss and learn has catapulted her to international stardom. To date she has had two international shows, an appearance at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit and is the focus of a documentary in production. She has also used self publishing on line very successfully for her book Self Gazing. She has only been taking photographs seriously for 3 years!
She started with basic equipment, very little budget yet used her imagination and her energy to get noticed on Flickr for her quirky and unique self portraits. She spoke last night at Brighton and Hove Camera Club (yes all that and modest as well!) and confessed to practically living on Flickr. If you look at all the mentions of her on the web they are littered with responses from her. She listens, she communicates, she networks. Having risen to stardom on the site, as a marketing tool she finds it very limiting and is now using Facebook much more extensively as it allows her to promote her exhibitions and books more effectively to the audience she has given so generously to for the past three years.
Now Facebook can become a marketing tool for her because of her previous interest in connectivity and community. Promotion would not be successful without the huge following she has gained from Flickr. See Miss Aniela on Facebook.
She is a perfect example of why social media networks work for women.