As research about social media adoption and use patterns continues to flourish, so is the evidence that social media is a women-centric vehicle. A recent Compass study by BlogHer reveals that of the 79 million women online, 42 million (~53%) use social networks; Facebook reported earlier in the year that their fastest growing population is that of 35-65 year old women; and BusinessWeek reports that while both young men and women in their twenties are equally represented as members of social networks, young women are much more active on these sites than young men.
There are many reasons for this trend but at its core is the fact that social media is less about technology and more about being social. Unlike pre-web2.0 gadgets, operational software, or convoluted front-end algorithmic solutions that have been traditionally adopted by men first, social media is propelled and adopted by women. There are five key factors influencing this trend:
1. Social media is gender agnostic. It is a channel open to all, at the same cost, no special club membership or lineage required. In fact, many of the traditional requirements such as formal education, location, full-time availability are obsolete in a social media world.
2. Social media is about expression. It is a platform for communication, for self-disclosure, for sharing--things women do naturally but have had to learn to keep under control in board rooms and team meetings.
3. Social media is about people. It is a channel designed for those people who understand what others want, who can express themselves eloquently (and, increasingly, very concisely), and who can connect with others through words or actions. Most women are born with these capabilities: they tend to be better at relationships, they are more attentive and compassionate, and are happy to share with others while having no desire for immediate return other than recognition.
4. Social media powers instant communication. Live feed, comments, cross links--all enable immediate communication and feedback--which are key values for women. We thrive on communication: we want to know what others think, what works and doesn't work, how we can improve--it is part of our own self-awareness and growth.
5. Social media is as much about the process as it is about the results. It requires time, strategy, careful construction, fine-tuning, conversing with others, helping—all those things many women enjoy and are good at.
While there may be other factors that make social media a women’s channel and gives women advantage both as consumers and as job seekers, these five are key because they speak to the alignment between the nature of the channel/tool and the human nature of its users. And, as in any discipline, with alignment comes momentum, speed, growth, and, ultimately--success.