Women Dominate the Social Web

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In an article on TechCrunch, Aileen Lee, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers explained that “When it comes to social and shopping, women rule the internet.” This is a lesser known fact, but one that holds true when understanding the growth of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, and Pinterest. A number of studies (by the likes of Comscore, Neilsen, MediaMetrix and Quancast) have shown that women are the movers and shaker s of the social web. Comscore reported that women are the titans of social networking sites, spending 30% more time on sites than men. According to Nielsen, in mobile, women are 55% of the users. There are a number of e-commerce sites that directly look to leverage the power of women on the web, but even more widely used social social sites such as Facebook, Zynga, Groupon and Twitter are dominated by women.

Sheryl Sanberg, COO of Facebook, has explained that women dominate Facebook: they participate in 62% of the activity in terms of messages, updates and comments, and 71% of the daily fan activity. Women also have 8% more Facebook friends than the average man, and they spend a great deal more time on the site, too. An early Facebook member even noted that women were the key to Facebook’s early success; women were posting to walls, adding photos and joining groups much more actively than their male counterparts.

This female phenomenon holds true when we look at Twitter. Despite Twitter being known as a technie (in other words, predominantly male) destination, women follow more people, tweet more, and on average have more followers than men. Bloggers Dan Zerella and Darmesh Shaw have researched these gender dynamics.

In many ways, these findings are not so surprising. At the end of the day, women are thought to be more social, more interested in relationships and connections, and better at multi-tasking. Robin Dunbar, a social anthropologist, came up the Dubar Number after finding that the one person can maintain around 150 stable relationships at once. However, this number differs between men and women -women are able to maintain more relationships and in a more intimate matter.

Cameron Marlow – the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, and that women tend to have more friends than men. Since the number ranges so much it can’t be proven. What IS proven is the likeliness of women to be more social than men. On average, a man with 120 friends will respond to around seven friends by posting on individual’s photos, status messages or “wall.” They will directly communicate in e-mails or chats with only four people. Women will respond to ten, and will directly communicate with six. Obviously the number is a bit higher the more friends a user will have. For a user with 500 friends, men will leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men will directly communicate with ten, and women 16. Net-net, the Dunbar Number is audience to which users will broadcast their inner lives. However, there will always be a smaller circle where communication is strongest.

At the end of the day, a strong women presence is key for the success of any internet company. This has been proven time and time again using case studies of various internet companies that are leaders in the social web (Facebook being the most prominent example of this). Essentially, women are the gatekeepers to a sites popularity, this is an empowering message. Keeping this in mind, companies have to strategically figure out how to market to women. Technology is often labeled as “masculine,” so it’s ironic that success is tied to women. If more women were aware of the message Aileen Lee was trying to get across in her TechCrunch article, perhaps there would be more female entrepreneurs.

-Michelle (socialnetworkingwomen.org)

Evolving Media Channels

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Are our traditional channels of media becoming irrelevant? In my opinion, we’ll be reliant on TV for a while, but what about local radio stations? There are a few apps that attempt  to save local radio by giving the option of streaming stations off of mobile devices and laptops (TuneIn Radio and iHeartRadio). This is a convenient option for most dedicated listeners, but is it enough to maintain the demand? It’s likely that local radio will slowly fade as dedicated listeners get older, and as application systems are developed in cars. With the advent of companies like SiriusXM and Spotify, local radio seems to be holding on by a thread. The thought of local radio dying due to the advent of technology is a disappointing thought. For many, they grew up listening to the same radio show hosts every morning —it was a way of connecting with their surroundings. If this option is gone, the way we use radio will loose that local aspect (which will make it a lot less meaningful). Technology has a way of doing this, it’s one of the negative aspects of it. Online retailers have made it difficult for small business and mom and pop shops to exist. So, just as technology has transformed our consumer options and means of communication with each other, it has also changed the way we relate to the world and our surroundings. This is something that will continue to evolve, and the outcome is not too clear.

-Michelle Rosin (socialnetworkingwomen.org

Online Marketing: Late 1990′s-Today

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The internet has always been deemed important for it’s ability to shed light on the aspects of human behavior, including consumer behavior. With that said, it’s no secret that the internet has drastically changed traditional marketing practices. Social profile information has been valued for the rich data it provides (demographics, connections, Likes, searches, and post content), which has improved targeting marketing. How did we end up here?

Over the last two decades technology has advanced tremendously. If we take a step back to the late 1990s, the avenues for marketing research were very broad. There were four main types of online communities:

  1. Boards: Otherwise known as electronic bulletin boards, boards were a way to organize information around particular products, services, or lifestyles. An early pioneer of boards was Google.com’s newsgroup search engine (acquired from deja.com).
  2. Independent Web pages and Web Rings: These were the early websites on the World Wide Web. Two examples are Epinions (www.epinions.com), which provided an online community for consumer-to-consumer exchanges, and Yahoo!’s Advocacy Listings and directory of Web Rings.
  3. Lists (Listservs): Listservs were thematically organized e-mail mailing lists (they were organized around a variety of themes, such as art, diet, music, professions, toys, educational services, hobbies). Search engines of lists were egroups.com and liszt.com.
  4. Multi-User Dungeons and Chat Rooms: These communities were considered less market oriented because they were usually fantasy oriented, sexual, or social in nature. Yahoo! provided a directory of communities.

The online communities that were most useful were ones that had (1) focused information (2) high “traffic” (3) active users (4) more detailed “rich” data and (5) more member-to-member interaction. In this sense, not much has changed, a sites marketing usefulness is still valued by all four aspects mentioned.

As companies began to recognize the importance of online communities, they started to tap into the cross-consumer communication that was taking place. Early adopters of these practices were Cyveillance, eWatch, NetCurrents, and GenuOne and consumer services such as Epinions.com, PlanetFeedback, Bizrate.com, and eComplaints.com. Their reason for picking up on this trend was twofold:

  • First, they noticed that consumers were active on the internet. If companies could narrow in on the discussions taking place in online communities they would be able to better inform and influence customers, thereby increasing brand equity.
  • Second, companies would have a way of understanding the tastes, desires, and decision making influences of consumers and consumer groups.

To pick up on these trends, marketing researchers would do qualitative research to figure out what questions they were trying to answer, which would allow them to target appropriate online communities, and then learn as much as possible from the conversations taking place.

Looking back on these days, the types of online communities companies targeted seems archaic, but their methodology and purposes have stayed the same. With the advancement of technology we now have the ability to analyze more heavily. The “online communities” of today have honed in on what information is valuable and made it accessible. Marketing has become more specific than we would’ve ever dreamed possible!

-Michelle Rosin (socialnetworkingwomen.org)

I recently came across this video for The Dollar Shave Club, a company attempting to disrupt the high-end razor market. The video is catchy, and the idea behind it is great. too. The Dollar Shave Club came about when two guys realized they were sick of spending $15-$20 every time they needed to razors, so they decided to make high quality razors that they would sell for cheap ($1/month, $6/month, or $9/month). Another company that has had recent success disrupting a larger market is Warby Parker, an eyeglass company that attempts to compete with other boutique-quality eyewear companies (their glasses retail at $95/pair). Both of these ideas are great, but the Warby Parker example stands out because not only offers cheap, chic glasses, but it also partners with Visionspring.org to give one pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair they sell. This one-for-one model is a larger trend that what pioneered by Tom’s Shoes, TwoDegrees Food, and L. (a condom company).

-Michelle Rosin (socialnetworkingwomen.org)

Social Networks: Transforming Communication

Social networks have drastically transformed our modes of communication. Some argue that these networks have been for the better; they have increased our literacy, intimacy with others, knowledge base, ability to impact politics, and marketing channels. Others argue that social networks have a predominantly negative impact; diminishing our attention spans, ability to empathize, and personal identity.

Our modes of communication are constantly changing, but for the most part the goal of social networks is to increase communication between individuals. At first, this was a hefty goal for social networks to achieve. Sites like MySpace, Livejournal, and even the early Facebook had users but users were not yet comfortable with the high level of communication that we take for granted today.

In this same vein, Twitter and Quora have been game changers, they have caught on and have forced Facebook and other social networks to alter themselves accordingly.

  • Twitter has introduced a way for companies and individuals alike to publicly market themselves, sharing information about their every move.
  • Quora has introduced a platform for individuals to ask question, and receive high quality answers, making the traditional search engine nearly obsolete.

These sites have proven successful, but could not have been possible 5, or even 10 years ago. Today, users of social networks are more engaged and willing to share personal information. The introduction of Facebook was the tipping point; it made the private public. Once users became comfortable breaking this boundary, social networks proved to be useful, meaningful ways of communication.

With that said, there are many users who still do not feel comfortable with the boundary that these social networks seem to encroach upon. No matter which way we look at it though, these sites are our future; they will impact our group formations, our interpersonal relationships, the way we build our communities, and the way we choose to specialize our knowledge. In order to bring true value in these communities individuals need to create quality content in a way that displaces seemingly archaic forms of communication (boards, independent webpages, listservs, and chatrooms). Sure, there are drawbacks to this fate of communication and social networks, it might produce a generation of individuals who are overly concerned with their appearance on the web. However, others will learn how to capitalize on the power of social networks to learn and collaborate more closely with people in their communities.

Net-net, I believe that social networks provide its users with a tremendous amount of power; connections enable users to reach others who are like minded, and those connections will surely help us progress technologically. You’re either a part of it, or you’re not.

-Michelle Rosin

Women, Both Young and Old, Need Tech Role Models

This week, we had Meebo CTO and co-founder Sandy Jen come into the VentureBeat studio to talk about women and tech.

We’ve featured a few strong and opinionated women CEOs and CTOs in our videos lately, because we think it’s important to show the female faces and voices in the tech industry. And in this interview, Jen said that’s one of the most important things for encouraging more female entrepreneurship.

After we chatted about Jen’s background (not one but both parents were engineers) and the importance of diversity in startup teams, she went on to say that she and many women like her are hesitant to leave companies and step into co-founder roles simply because they don’t see many precedents for that kind of behavior. The young, male entrepreneur/hacker is pretty well glorified by our society, but what Jen wants to see is more visibility for the women who do so.

While we talk a lot about the need for role models and tech education for young girls, not enough is said about the need to encourage grown women to pursue new goals in technology. This includes learning a programming language, starting a company and taking on leadership roles within the community. But as Jen noted in our talk, the biggest encouragement can simply be seeing someone like you doing something you’ve always wanted to do but never tried.

We’re glad to be engineering a small part of that visibility here at VentureBeat, and we hope you find Jen’s words interesting and inspiring.

-Jolie O’Dell, Venture Beat

iThankyou, Steve

I first met Steve Jobs on a photo shoot for TIME in 1982. I had no idea that he was going to be my friend or that he was going to be this incredible genius — a part of all our lives, in what we do and what we see. He was speaking to a group of Stanford students in a dorm living room, and it was hard to photograph him there and not be in the way. You had to have light, and I was creeping around. But he was game. I asked him to stand on top of an Apple sign, and he did it. I asked him to stand in front of an Apple cutout (which ended up on the cover of Fortune magazine), and he did that too. I thought, This is you. This is who you are.

He was so much fun because he was so quick — he was such a fast study. You showed him anything and he could get it in a second. I was always fascinated by his design sense. It was wonderful because he liked my pictures.

I really will miss his inventiveness, his ideas, his eyes — and how bright he was all over. He had some kind of electricity about him. He was very, very focused in the office. He demanded a lot of the people who worked for him. I’m sure Steve wasn’t the easiest person to work for, but what a fascinating person to work for.

 

 

 

-Diana Walker was TIME’s White House photographer for 20 years, where she captured intimate moments with five Presidents. 

 

 

Read more: http://lightbox.time.com/2011/10/06/in-a-private-light-diana-walkers-photos-of-steve-jobs/#ixzz1a76Wv0Tl

RIP Steve, you will be missed

Alexa von Tobel discusses her reason for starting LearnVest, a company designed to help women get organized, get informed, and get support while making financial decisions.

Social Media Revolution

I found this video via jumpthru (via womeninwireless). The video, titled “Social Media Revolution,” is by Erik Qualman, who has been deemed the equivalent of what Demming is to quality and Drucker is to management in the social media space. He is the founder of Socialnomics, a book about how social media transforms the way we do business. The video presents a few of the 2011 social media statistics. To say the least, it’s a noteworthy, powerful, and inspiring message.

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