Women and social media

Feb. 1, 2012
The female consumer has always been important. Women make thousands of purchasing decisions every year...

By Kristie Nation

The female consumer has always been important. Women make thousands of purchasing decisions every year, including 85% of those in health care.

Women’s power dates back well before the age of the Internet. Soap operas were originally created as vehicles for advertising aimed at women. The female demographic aged 25 to 50 is one of the most courted by marketers.

Today, women are just as important online. Women use social media more than men, especially when it comes to researching brands and making purchasing decisions. Men keep social interaction light and unemotional. Women tend to become intimately involved with others in conversations about everything from fashion to food to travel to parenting.

Vickie Milazzo, author of “Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman,” recently commented that women “excel at relationship building” because they “pretty much manage everything” in the household. Women are natural relationship builders and tend to excel at social media.

Rebtel CEO Andreas Bernstrom agrees. He cited a survey that asked (among other things) whether or not social media would be the primary choice of U.S. adults if they were restricted to one method of communication.

“Our findings show that men tend to lag behind women when it comes to communicating with others through social media, which debunks other recent studies that suggest that men are more savvy networkers between the sexes,” said Bernstrom.

Ruth Page, PhD, of the University of Leicester in the U.K., and author of “Stories and Social Media: Identities and Interaction,” says women tend to be better at putting the “social” in social media.

“In general, a young woman’s social media style tends to emphasize emotion, playfulness, and humor, which are all recognized in other contexts as projecting connection,” said Dr. Page.

These connections are important. The main draw of social media is the opportunity for sharing and engaging. Women traditionally share more about their lives and daily activities than men do. Social networks allow them to express these connections online and gather input from people they respect.

Practices that attempt to market to women online do it best by encouraging them to share positive experiences about their respective brands, instead of the practices pushing their own message. Why? Women are more likely to listen to other women than to a sales pitch when researching a product or service.

Social media also provides a platform for a more real type of marketing. Martin Lindstrom, author of “Brandwashed,” said, “We’re sick and tired of picture-perfect babies and flawless models. Why do we love YouTube videos so much? Because they’re imperfect, amateurish, and the people in them remind us of us.”

Fifty-three percent of adult women in the U.S. visit social media at least once a week for the following purposes:

  • Three out of four women want to stay up-to-date with friends and family.
  • More than half of all women go online for fun and entertainment, and roughly the same number prioritize connecting with someone like themselves.
  • Roughly a third of women say they want to share opinions and get information.
  • About 20% of women use social media to seek and provide advice and recommendations.

What does this all mean for you and your practice? Your goal is to gain a mention in these seemingly casual conversations. You cannot do this without delivering on your brand promise so completely that you become the first thing they think of when the topic of dentistry enters an online conversation.

To achieve this goal, you have to ask women what they want, create and publish information that answers their questions, provide solutions to their problems, and — above all — avoid the hard sell.

Women are constantly bombarded by the perfect and the polished. Social media is real. This is why it is so attractive. Women online can connect with other real women facing the same problems and looking for the same answers. When you give them real solutions, they will promote you without even being asked.

Kristie Nation is the founder and CEO of myDentalCMO, a marketing consulting firm that provides strategic marketing “treatment plans” exclusively for dental practices. The firm was founded with a mission to prevent dentists from wasting countless dollars marketing their practices ineffectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (888) 557-6443.

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