Male Marketers Beware When Marketing to Women with Social Media

women-social-networkingI  talk a good bit here about the power of the female target audience and reaching them with Social Media Marketing. But, I would like to pause for a moment to make sure something does not get lost in the messages.

Simply becoming aware that women are your market and social media is a way to reach them could actually be more damaging to your marketing efforts if both findings are not researched and strategized very carefully.

You’ve heard the old saying that “someone knows just enough about a subject to be dangerous?” That adage could not be more accurate than when advertising to women using Social Media Marketing. Beware, and do your homework.

85% OF ALL BRAND PURCHASES ARE MADE BY WOMEN… and recent research reveals that the majority of women feel that advertisers do not understand them, especially during the recession. So, if you have discovered that women are indeed your market, but do not bother to learn how to connect with them effectively, you may risk causing an even greater disconnect by not resonating with them or even offending them – ultimately hurting your brand considerably.

“In some ways, it would be better not to start at all than to be seen online with a big social media effort that simply disappears or stops with a static blog or a non-participating avatar.” Geoff Livingston, Now is Gone.

Although not all-inclusive, below are just a few “Don’ts” when marketing to women.

  • Don’t fall prey to common stereotypes about women by painting everything pink, frilly and all about children.
  • Don’t conduct focus groups with women and then sit in a boardroom with five other men trying to figure out what the women “meant.”
  • Don’t rely too heavily on your wife or your assistant for the female voice. They either already believe in you or might not speak up for fear of losing their job. (Unless they are seasoned and objective marketing professionals)
  • Don’t hire professional female marketers and then not yield to their advice.

Now, for a few “Do’s”

SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE WAY TO REACH WOMEN ONLINE … and the Social Media trend is NOT a fad or a flash in the pan. It is instead an irreversible way for people to relate to your company. So if you are ready to embrace social media marketing yet do not take the appropriate time to understand its complexities and hire the right professionals, you will definitely learn of its power – the hard way.

Again, although not all-inclusive, below are just a few “Don’ts” when marketing to women with Social Media

  • Don’t get overwhelmed. This is admittedly a whole new way of communicating, and very complex, but if you allow yourself to get overwhelmed, you will find yourself paralyzed.
  • Don’t hire an ad agency that has not been on Twitter for at least six months. If they have been following blogs and the leaders and evolution of Web 2.0, they knew to get a Twitter account. Although having a Twitter account does not ensure their expertise, not having had one reveals they have not been keeping up.
  • Don’t hire a web-developer who doesn’t understand Social Media Marketing. Long gone are the days of simply getting a website up and running for your customers to seek out static information about you. Social Media Marketing is about engagement and conversation that comes about only as a result of full-time strategy, monitoring and management. And while the web-developer is probably not the person who would be performing these services, a keen understanding of the  goals is required to develop a site that will prepare your company for the dynamics of Web 2.0 (Social Media).
  • Don’t be mislead by the “free” tools. These “free” tools will cost you dearly if not implemented with well-thought out strategy.
  • More “Don’ts” when using social media to reach women

And now, for a few more “Do’s”

  • Do start participating. Get a Twitter account. Follow some of the leaders in the Social Networking arena including Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li, Brian Solis, and Jeremiah Owyang just to name a few.
  • Do start reading blogs and books that focus on Social Media from researchers to techs to authors. A good start with blogs includes Web-strategy by Jeremiah, Mashable, and TechCrunch. And two great books to get going with are Groundswell and Now is Gone.
  • Do hire an ad agency that shows a well-rounded track record of both understanding the tools of Social Media balanced with strong marketing strategies. The tools are now available at everyone’s beck and call but unless utilized and intertwined through a strong marketing strategy, you could easily do more harm than good.

Social Media Marketing, implemented inappropriately, could be very damaging to your brand. You will often hear, and I would tend to agree, that the best way to learn Social Media is to jump right in and experience it. But I also believe that some of the mistakes made by major players such as Motrin and Ketchum are great examples of the need to do your homework and hire effectively.

The resources above are just some of my favorites. Please feel free to add to them under comments for others to benefit.


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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

8 Responses to “Male Marketers Beware When Marketing to Women with Social Media”

  1. [...] check out this post on the challenges of marketing to women through social media [...]

  2. Women have ruled the world for a long, long time. Are you saying that they should somehow be treated differently now?

  3. Tyler,

    Thanks for your comment. And, yes, as it pertains to advertising. Studies reveal that women do not feel they are understood in the majority of advertising and advertisers are not connecting effectively with them.

    ~ 59% of women feel misunderstood by food marketers
    ~ 66% feel misunderstood by health care marketers
    ~ 74% feel misunderstood by automotive marketers
    ~ 84% feel misunderstood by investment marketers
    ~ 91% of women in one survey said that advertisers don’t understand them

    I’m saying that if companies want to improve sales, carve market share and have a distinctive impact on their bottom line, they need to not only realize their target should be women, they need to better understand women and how and where to communicate with them.

  4. Perhaps advertising isn’t the answer here then? I know that women have embraced social media much more so than men, in that they have formed larger, more talkative communities. You don’t hear much about blogging dads, for example.

    Men and women do react to advertising differently, but it’s more than because of the message, it’s the medium itself. Perhaps one-way interaction works better for guys, but not for women.

  5. Would it be safe to say women by preference, want to be engaged, whereas men are more comfortable with “just tell me”? If so, Social Media is much more comfortable for women.

    Alongside that, younger people, men and women, have been texting each other prominently. Social media may provide a platform for guys to learn how to be engaged, too. Men 20 years from now may prefer more engagement than they do now. If true, that pretty much eliminates “advertising” as we’ve known it. It’s about “marketing”, not “advertising.”

    Social Media would also appear to be quite an advancement in two way communication and community construction that I think I would put past Web 2.0 to maybe Web 2.5 or even Web 3.0. It tags along the mobile phone app wave going on which is also a Web advancement and marketing platform.

    The Social Media breakout session at LOHAS was an overflow crowd that went past the room’s capacity. It was balanced for sex and age, for what that’s worth.

  6. I’m a momblogger who works with companies as a social media mom to help them understand trends and develop relationships in the mom-o-sphere. I’m surprised that after your talk about women, you recommend 4/5 people to follow on Twitter who are men? (Very wise men, but still.) Check out this list of 25 must-follow moms on twitter http://tinyurl.com/nd7hjk

  7. I encourage people to jump into social media. Only after they continue to try one-way communication can I show mostly men how and when and what “listening” is and where it takes place in a conversation. I don’t think women want to be treated differently. I think they are clearer about their understanding of social media. I spoke to an ABWA group and it was so easy to just point out what they were already doing correctly. They were asking permission to contact any new individuals to share information with them. They were talking about family, business and yes the economy. Those who move ahead in the social media sphere are those who listen first. Great post.

  8. Well social media has been used as a very effective tool for engaging with your customers. I own a website and I have a active facebook and twitter pages where I often interact with my customers.

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