Girlfriends Just Want To Have Fun .. Social Media Style!

04/15/2008

Question: What does Dove soap, Yahoo!, a comedian - Whoopi Goldberg, a TV journalist - Lesley Stahl, and a gossip columnist - Liz Smith have in common?

Answer: They are tapping the hottest demographic trend in social media networking .. YOU. Me. Us. Girlfriend! 

Blogherlogo Recently BlogHer and Compass Partners co-sponsored a primary research study that provides some much needed insights about women who blog and women who read blogs. The findings were presented at BlogHer Business earlier this month. A few interesting stats from the survey. Among the respondents who participated (blah blah blah):

  • 36.2 million women write and read blogs every week
  • Approximately half consider blogs a “highly reliable” or “very reliable” source of information and advice about everything from products to presidential candidates.
  • 24 percent of women surveyed say they now watch less television because they are blogging instead.
  • 55% would give up alcohol
  • 50% would give up their PDAs
  • 42% would give up their i-Pod
  • 43% would give up reading the newspaper or magazines
  • BUT, some things are sacred … only 20% would give up chocolate!

Sidebar: PowerPoint of the study is posted at BlogHer. The link is at the end of the post.

Small wonder that w
ithin the last few weeks several social media networking sites, targeted to women, were launched by Dove, Yahoo! and a group of women celebrities. Take a sip of your skinny latte, I prefer my vanilla, and let's explore what these new sites have to offer US.

Dove

Dove_community After it's successful Campaign For Real Beauty Dove (Unilver) became the darling of the marketing/advertising/pr world. The no-make-up-beauty-is-in-the-heart campaign also resonated with  its target audience. Working with Ogilvy North America Dove is partnering with MSN to create dove.msn.com/

  • Our goal is to become a global leader and a true digital media force by completely redefining the digital experience for women worldwide. We can do this by leveraging the Dove "real beauty" credentials -- our philosophy, compelling content and product offerings. Kathy O'Brien, marketing director Dove North America Money Central

The site is heavily branded including free product samples.  Blogs, columns, discussions seem to blur together. Didn't see much participation or comments but it's early in the game. There is def lots to do on the site including games for tweens and social media profiling, ask the experts columns and product info. Demo target seems run from young girls to moms to women in general. A frustration for me was the content is "locked" ..  can not be copied and pasted. Not very 'social.' 

Big Question: Can Dove leverage the Campaign for Real Beauty concept and goodwill to create a community where women will feel comfortable and want to participate? Can you be all things to all peeps .. from young teens/tweens to 20-something, 30-something, ?-something?

Shine Shine - Yahoo!

My first impression of Shine was .. a slick publication. There are nine categories including fashion, beauty, parenting, health, love and sex, food.  Shine editors are responsible for content development. In addition blogs and articles are pulled from Yahoo!'s other lifestyles publishers (including male writers). Community members can add their comments and digg, del.icio.us, stumble, technorait and buzz up the post.

Shine is targeting the 25-54 audience - .. a highly sought-after demographic for advertisers. From a Yahoo! news article a new buzz word for this demo - Chief Household Officer. Wonder what Susan or Marianne or Jeneane would think of their new title (wink!)?

  • We didn’t want to be a site just for moms or just for single women or working women, or any specific demo- or psychographic. We wanted to create a smart, dynamic place for women to gather, get info and to connect with each other and the world around them. Shine About Us Page

Big Questions: Can Yahoo! turn the "slick shine" down a notch or two? Can you be all things to all peeps .. from  20-somethings to 50-somethings?

Sidebar: Toss of a pink boa to Yahoo!for reaching out to women around the U.S., bloggers and not, asking for feedback about Shine. I was looking forward to attending the session in Atlanta, alas! my hot water heater had other plans for me. I won't go into details except to say walking on squishy carpet is not a fun thing. Back in Skinny Jeans attended in CA and has a great post about her experience.

Wowowow_logo WowOWow - The Women On The Web

Here's the deal - you're smart, you're successful, you're rich, you're 40+ and you "know everybody." You want to make money, be an entrepreneur, get involved with something new on the web. Your journalist friend is complaining she is getting cut from 5-days a week to 3-days. Another chum wants to write more than about politics.

Over lunch an idea is born. Together you'll create a site where you can talk to your friends and invite other accomplished 40+ women to the conversation. It doesn't hurt that you and your girlfriends can each invest $200k or a total of a cool $1 million. You knock on your friend Tiffany's and Sony's doors for a few ads and launch a "ladies who lunch site."

Snippets from Charlie Rose's Interview with the founders: Liz Smith, Lesley Stahl, Peggy Noonan, Mary Wells and Joni Evans

Charlie Rose - When you say geared to women over 40 what does that mean?
Joni Evans – It means women who have had experience, women who have had education, women
Wowowow_lesley_stahlwho have had careers, women who have lived.

Leslie Stahl – Virtually every woman who is a contributor is a known person. And they are commenting and writing on something you wouldn’t expect that person to write about. Candice Bergen on politics. Leslie Stahl on her new mattress.

I wanted to love WowOWow. Really I did. Accomplished, smart women reaching out to a demo who had been neglected. I wanted to love WowOWow. Really I did. I love Liz Smith's wit, and Candice Bergen's savvy and Mary Wells forged paths in advertising for women and Lesley Stahl is from Swampscott, MA where my college roommate lived. I wanted to love WowOWow really I did. Behind the scenes with the cool celebs who seemed to want to include me in their world. I wanted to love WowOWow really I did. But it falls flat for me.

Maybe they don't really want to talk to us. Trust me when I tell you I have spent significant time wandering around the site. I call it a site because it's way far not a social networking community. It's rather like being invited to join the "in group" in high school and then being ignored. In the Charlie Rose interview (he asked great questions but the women danced around giving straight responses) the founders made a big deal about the "conversation." However, few join in on their own conversations to talk to the peeps.

Sidebar: There are several women who actively comment and encourage conversation on many, many, many of the posts. Suzanne de Cornelia, Mugsy Peabody and Suzanne Conti. WowOWow has hired five employees and call me cynic but I can't help but wonder if these are them.

Maybe they don't really like us. In chat about privacy Julia Reed commented: I read somewhere that like 10 times the amount of people now Google themselves as did five years ago. I mean, you know, just … not people like Candice, who have reasons to be written about. What does that mean?  

My ah ha moment is .. I don't think the founders of WowOWow get what social media or building a social media networking community is about. In the Charlie Rose interview when asked what blogs they read, Drudge and news sites a la the Huffington Post (not a big surprise) were mentioned. Women of the Web do you know there are vibrant communities of women bloggers who are your target audience?

However, barely a few weeks old the site is doing quite nicely thank you kindly. My favorite bit in the Charlie Rose interview was when Joni Evans stopped herself because she wasn't "allowed to talk about" the site stats. Liz tossed off, “Go ahead. You have 100 books on the best seller list you can talk about any damn thing you please.” So she did. Average length on the site about 8.5 minutes - as of April 8th. Not an earth shattering piece of information. If the number of comments = success than out of the virtual box WowOWow is a huge success. Some posts are pulling in 20, 30, 50 comments and some have hundreds.

For me the lesson learned is that women want to express their opinions to women who they admire and might be paying attention even if there is no feedback. What does that mean? Is that part of the culture of the 40+ women .. that an outlet for expression is enough even if there is no conversation or response from the author? Is that what the political blogs have taught us? That it's enough to state your opinion but don't expect a response from the candidate? Or is it just as the SNL character Linda Richmond said, "Talk among yourselves."

Big Questions: Is this is a play toy for the founders or can they sustain the writing into year two and beyond? Will WowOWow turn into a female version of the Huffington Post (no shame in that)? Is it all about the celebrity?

Update: Suzanne de Cornelia and Mugsy Peabody DMed me. Neither they nor Suzanne Conti are part of the paid staff. To be continued ..

Trackbacks

Trackback url:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b4b169e200e551e9e0088834

» A 'network' of social networks...Weblogs Inc meets Ning from Conversational Media Marketing
Back in what I now refer to as the good old days of business blogging (2003-2005... and I know, nobody cares about the past...I seem to revel in it), there was a proliferation of blog networks, Weblogs Inc, b5media, Creative [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 17, 2008 3:18:01 PM

Comments

Very interesting post. You are right, social media is ALL about the interaction.

If there is no meaningful and honest (meaning the real person responding) interaction it's just a place to listen to opinions...and if women are abandoning TV which is a 'talk at you' experience, they are not going to spend time being 'talked at' on the internet.

Posted by: Susan Cartier Liebel on Apr 15, 2008 6:05:28 PM

@Susan - thanks for your reality check feedback on this one.

If you were to build a social media networking site for women .. what would it look like?

Posted by: Toby on Apr 15, 2008 6:24:36 PM

Hey Diva-Great to discover you. And I couldn't agree more about wowowow. A couple of us, including one of NY's best doctors, run a site called www.womensvoicesforchange.org. We're small, but really trying to offer good content. (Where else can you post a question and get a really serious lengthy personal answer from a physician?) Anyway, will put you on our blogroll!

Posted by: Elaine Lafferty on Apr 15, 2008 6:35:10 PM

It's the classic marketing error in social media. No participation in the larger community equals lackluster results. Content should be a contribution to the larger whole to serve them, and pull them in, not a push effort.

Well done, Toby.

Posted by: Geoff Livingston on Apr 15, 2008 7:13:06 PM

Toby,

Great post....agree with you. If Huffington Post is the business model for Wowowow they are kind of all dressed up, but where are they going?

Regarding the title Chief Household Officer title....well, my household is a frat house so I think its a bit overstated.

Marianne

Posted by: Marianne Richmond on Apr 15, 2008 7:39:25 PM

Hi Toby - and thanks Geoff for the twitter link. I have a saying, "It's all about the energy." You described a lot of ways of that can play out, with lackluster results.

A common thread is the top-down-ness here - sites that were over-built with stuff and under populated by people with desire and demand.

People see the surface of highly successful and interactive sites, and think if they build it the peeps will come. Not true!

Sites need real people who at home growing the energy. Most sites still don't have any real personalities who are the central lure - that person is very hard to find, and is the missing ingredient in so many socnet fadeouts.

Posted by: Roxanne Darling on Apr 15, 2008 8:26:30 PM

Here's my qualified, if you will, response... the world is beating a path to our door ...we popular women of all ages. But, once it gets there, it wants us to be the IT wants us to be. Shine wants us to be the way IT sees us. WOWOW wants us to idolize celebrities...because that's what the writers are used to.

Social media and networking is about conversations with peers, with other gals who have stories to share. Stories like the ones on this blog, and in your story blog.

When mainstream media of any sort get into the act, big celebrities pretending to blog or a media company creating a social site for 'women'... there is a monumental mountain to climb because...these folks are NOT in touch with us, the women out in the real world.

I've always represented women of a certain sort... women like myself, average, smart, talented, ambitious, Moms, homemakers, small business owners -- the MAJORITY of women in the world. WE rock and roll... and the celebrities and major media moguls, male and female alike, would do well to engage us.

AT least Dove is trying... however, I am beginning to wonder if they've gotten a bit off track.

And, I've gone on far too long. Thanks for this fab post... you are an A+ gal from all angles.

Posted by: Yvonne DiVita on Apr 15, 2008 8:37:08 PM

@Elaine - even with just a quick look I can say that the Women's Voices For Change blog is def a "wow" and very real.

@Geoff - you have an amazing way of zeroing in on the essence. It felt like old media wrapped in new media sheep's clothing to me also.

@Marianne - interesting take on wowowow. sounds like you're saying they're sending mixed signals. tell those guys that a cho demands respect (wink!).

@Roxanne - gotta love twitter for extending the convo. I love your social media missing link .. real peeps.

@Yvonne - Great advice for anyone thinking of tapping into social media world of women. They should also pick up a copy of your book about marketing to women online.
http://tinyurl.com/57gatt

Once again comments prove that a post is just the start of the learning and relationships are build thru the convos. Thank you!

Posted by: Toby on Apr 15, 2008 8:58:44 PM

Toby, you asked me what my social media site would look like.

Well, there would be no hierarchy. It would be collaborative. There would be a core group which lends credibility and attracts starting the conversation, people who have established themselves as credible and attractive to an audience by previous reputation to create and stimulate the conversation...a conversation others would want to participate in..but the collective would create the ultimate experience which builds the momentum, attracts more participants. The interaction of all the participants creates the "whole" which becomes the ultimate product as it is greater than the sum of its parts and could not exist without all the parts and the resulting synergy....but all parts are equal.

What do you think?

Posted by: Susan Cartier Liebel on Apr 15, 2008 9:41:23 PM

@Susan - I love it! Sounds like my vision also :-)Take a look at the new community that Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell launch that follows your ideas - http://theswom.ning.com/

I hope someone from at least one of the communities pops by; they could learn so much from the comments.

Posted by: Toby on Apr 15, 2008 9:57:06 PM

Hey Toby,

What I'm finding REALLY fascinating is YOUR take on things, combined with all of the comments on your blog! I agree so much... there seems to be an element missing from these sites (especially Shine and Wowowow) - I think the future of really successful sites will be user-generated content, not just straight news stories or celebrity-driven posts. We'll see!

Posted by: Michele on Apr 16, 2008 12:44:56 PM

Great post! Couldn't agree more with your assessment. These "neighborhoods" lack that something called 'heart.'

Posted by: Jacqui Chew on Apr 16, 2008 4:24:36 PM

@Michele - Will be interesting to see if the "talk among yourselves" model does succeed. Certainly it is less effort than participating with your peeps. By the way these community managers should read your new book on how to market to women. http://tinyurl.com/5yne5g

@Jacqui - love the way you simply but powerfully zeroed in on what is missing .. heart! that's what separates a "site" from a "community."

Posted by: Toby on Apr 16, 2008 4:45:00 PM

Toby, It was great meeting you at Social Blogger NYC April 4-5. I'm disappointed to hear about WowOWow. I wanted to love it too. It's an important topic to me as I write http://itsdifferent4girls.com. I appreciate your ability to draw an interesting group of readers and being introduced to other women's sites mentioned in the comments.

Posted by: Linda Sherman on Apr 16, 2008 11:24:05 PM

Totally agree with you about WowOWow. There is no there there. With all the name-dropping and the "I'm so fabulous," I was thinking "Ow, oh, OW!"

I did email them to see about blogging for them - but never heard back. They need us way more than we need them, it seems.

Posted by: Aliza Sherman on Apr 16, 2008 11:40:42 PM

So is WOWOWOW the web version of the View? Just askin'

There's a certain hubris in the name as well. There are way more women than just this group on the web...

Thanks for sharing your take on these sites Toby. As always, thought-provoking.

Posted by: Susan Getgood on Apr 17, 2008 8:32:32 AM

Hey Toby,

I always love reading your blog. The world is starting to notice that as CHO or Chief Purchasing Officer (another term I've heard tossed out when describing women)they need to get our attention and keep it. I hadn't heard of Shine, so thanks for the link.

Bummer about WOWOWOW, but I think it's common. Social networking sites are complicated and there needs to be a deeper vision than just hearing oneself talk (or reading one's blog, as the case may be). I would love to see a women's site that didn't go gaga over celebs constantly and tell us to work out more. I'm SO over that!

Thanks again - your blog rocks!
Heather :)

Posted by: Heather Strang on Apr 17, 2008 1:39:59 PM

Toby,

Great insight on this.

Frankly, I love some of those women on the site, but I'm tired of just a certain group of women being the voice for all women. I don't think I want to read one more piece of content by women who tell the rest of us how our lives are, how we can read and bathe in bubbles at the same time, and how lucky we are that they're on top of all of it "for us."

I echo Heather that we don't need one more superficial site about women, written by women for women, who those very women would not deign to talk to because we're too busy actually living lives and not keeping up with the latest fashion, who is the most popular woman of all and what we can do to get our frames down to size 4!

As another women guru once said long ago, "Please stop the madness!"

Posted by: Nettie Hartsock on Apr 18, 2008 4:34:41 PM

@Heather - I agree. Building community among women with social networking sites is not as simple as it might appear.
@Linda - Are you able to do that for the "ring?"

@Aliza - Btw it seems as though you have to be at a certain level of "wow" to be asked to be a contributor. Not that I don't think you are Wow O Wow O Wow!

@Susan - for sure there are thousands .. millions of women who are active on the web. Other than mommy communities do you know of any that you would consider successful .. no matter how you define 'success?'

@Nettie - anyone ever tell you that you might pick up a few $ as a writer ;-) Sounds like the consensus is make it real.

Posted by: Toby on Apr 18, 2008 10:16:48 PM

Great post Toby. You forgot to mention www.DivineCaroline.com, the fastest growing online community for adult women. Social media is important for women because it validates them and allows them to connect and share similar experiences with people they may not have met randomly offline.

Posted by: Rebecca on Apr 22, 2008 3:59:57 PM

Rebecca - no way did I forget DivineCaroline! This was a post about communities that recently launched. DC is a great concept with excellent content. Well worth a visit.
Last Feb Rebecca kindly did an interview for Diva about the vision and back-story of DivineCaroline. http://tinyurl.com/4qjtek

Posted by: Toby on Apr 22, 2008 5:20:18 PM

Post a comment