The Power and Influence of Women in Social Media

The Power and Influence of Women in Social Media


Fact: More women use social media than men in North America.

Technology’s male-domination is slowly disintegrating. Thanks to social media, more and more women are finding their voice, confidence and careers online. For most women, social media is a major source of daily entertainment. Interestingly enough, many women actually prefer socializing online over dating or spending time with their partner. For others, it’s their source of news, content and conversations. Whatever their reason for being on social, 75% of North American female internet users use social media (versus 63% of men).

The overwhelming majority of women on social media means that their online connectivity and influence in numbers is far-reaching, and exposure to brands and their content is high. But women are slowly becoming disinterested in or too busy for social media, which leads some to believe that marketers still don’t know what women want.


The Power of Women in Social Media

Meet Jenni Hogan

Meet Jenni Hogan

In an interview with the socially savvy journalist Jenni Hogan, HootSuite’s Ulara Nakagawa touched on the topic of women in social media.

“I think women are more powerful than they think in social media,” said Jenni Hogan. “As a mother, I see other mothers multitasking, working full time, being CEO of their family and using technology to be more efficient. I think that we are the superusers of technology being busy, working moms. Females, without even knowing it, are leaders in this area. Tech companies should let females be part of the discovery process rather than coming up with a product and saying ‘here’s how we think it’s going to be great for you.’ There are a lot of brilliant women out there and if tech companies just listen to what they’re saying, we could find some pretty cool jackpots that will help a lot of people in the future.”

Proof is in the Pudding

In a recent online survey entitled “Digital Women Influencers,” conducted between global communications firm Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, 2,000 North American women were asked questions about online engagement. Based on their results, Weber Shandwick’s Marcy Massura, stated that “no successful brand these days can be without a social media engagement plan. Nor can any marketer ignore the strength – in number and influence – of women who use social media.” Let’s take a look at where these women are spending their time in social.

Social Sites Where Women are Most Active

Women of Social Media Stats

Screenshot from Digital Women Influencers Infographic

Of those North American women using social media, 68% of them are considered “The Women of Social Media.” These women spend one hour or more each week in social and on a scale of 1-10, they rate their enjoyment at 5 or higher. For many women, social media is a major source of entertainment and discussions revolving topics of their personal or business interests. These women are dominating social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogger and Google+; Facebook being the most prevalent of them all.

Why? Because social media allows women to control who they talk to and when- in a safe, easily navigable environment that is full of stimulation and interesting content. Marcy Massura also wisely said that “social media is where these women like to be and social platforms connect them with products and brands. Marketers need to recognize that social media is more than a channel for distributing coupons and promoting sales, but an opportunity for building relationships.”

Strength in Numbers and Influence ~ “Mommy Bloggers”

Mommy Bloggers

Mashable Infographic image

More and more parents are turning to the growing online freelance industry for income and information. “Mommy bloggers” are a massive and extremely influential demographic. To be exact, there are 3.9 million “mommy” blogs in North America, 500 of which have considerable power and reach.

Some of these bloggers have become so influential that they’ve written books, spoken at conferences and made livings off of their blogs. 2012’s number one “mommy blogger,” Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess, has a regular readership of over 3 million and is responsible for starting a worldwide movement that encourages readers to say “I’m worth it” and for mobilizing her following to give $43k to people online who were short on Christmas cash last year. Why is Jenny Lawson so popular? Because she’s funny, outspoken, controversial, confessional and a good writer.

Not only do mommy blogs swap tips, tricks and funny or informative stories about parenting, but unlike with traditional books, they are approachable and open to comments. These moms are building relationships and massive communities that revolve around personable guidance and support. This is something that big businesses can never take away from them – which adds to their charm and influence. Many of these women have the power to “make or break” a product and/or business. Has your brand tapped into this market?


Pinterest Screenshot. DIY online pin-board of ideas, content and inspiration.

Pinterest Screenshot. DIY online pin-board of ideas, content and inspiration.

The online content sharing site – Pinterest – is doing something right with women. According to research, women are five times as likely to be on the site as men, amounting to the largest gender difference seen amongst the top social media sites. What’s not to like about curating what you see online? It’s like flipping through the pages of a magazine geared specifically toward your personal interests. And guess what? If you play your brand’s cards right, thousands of dedicated pinterest users could be sharing and “re-pinning” your product.

The Cost of Ignoring the Women of Social Media

Hopefully by now you can see, that more than just liking social media, women are influencing people, brands, movements and sales. But are marketers tapping into women’s strength in numbers and influence? Are brands reaching out to these 3.9 million mommy bloggers or Pinterest users who scrape the web for their favorite brands and content to share with their active followers?

Women in social networks

Where are women spending their time in social? Screenshot from Weber Shandwick Infographic

Four in every 10 women have dropped off these major social media sites in the last six months. Their reasons? Some of them (59%) have lost interest and some (35%) simply don’t have the time. But being busy working moms didn’t stop them six months ago.

This 35% drop off in social media site usage by females should not be taken lightly by marketers. As we have discovered, women in social media are a highly active consumer market and carry a lot of influence over buying decisions; not just with their families but with their friends and peers as well. We think it’s time that brands tap in and give women something to be interested in again.

Whether you are a high-powered woman in social media or not, what ideas do you have for how brands can better connect with these influencers?

Author: Sam Milbrath

Sam Milbrath has written 107 posts for the HootSource blog..

Sam is HootSuite’s Content Producer. Keeping her finger on the pulse, she writes Trends of the Week, HootSource content and killer interviews.


Social Media Divide when looking at Teen’s and Social Media


Pew Report on Teens and Social Media Looks at Privacy, Race, ‘Social Media Divide’

June 4, 2013

Teens are using more social media and sharing more on those platforms, says a major report from Pew Research Center. Key findings indicate social media-using teens are not very concerned about third-party access to their data on the sites, are more likely to use a range of social media sites if they have a large Facebook network, and are participating in social media differently depending on race. In the following Q&A conducted via phone and email, three experts interpret what these findings show about teens’ intertwined online and offline lives.

Mary Madden, senior researcher at Pew, and Sandra Cortesi, director of the Youth and Media Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, were among the authors of the report. danah boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and a Fellow at the Berkman Center, has done extensive studies on youth’s social media use.

Mary Madden

Mary Madden

Sandra Cortesi

Sandra Cortesi

danah boyd

danah boyd


Q: Just 9 percent of social media-using teens are very concerned about third-party access to their data on social media, but focus groups suggest some teens may not really understand their information is used by third parties. Do you think teens’ low-level concern about privacy is more “don’t know” or “don’t care?”


Mary Madden: I think it’s probably a combination of both. More generally, teens are more focused on their social privacy and managing the boundaries of their information sharing from their peers and from other adults in their lives — their parents, their teachers. To the extent to which the advertisers are accessing the information that’s shared on social media sites, that’s not something that’s top-level concern. There are different experiences and different levels of awareness among teens.

Sandra Cortesi: Neither. Teens’ attitude seems to be “know and care very much when it matters, don’t know or care otherwise.” At worst, teens have found certain ads annoying, but they rarely have had negative experiences nor known somebody who has had negative experiences that could be traced to third-party use of data. Thus, they haven’t come across many reasons to know or care about the use of their info by third parties. In contrast, when it comes to parents, other adults in positions of authority (such as teachers or college admissions officers), or peers they seek to impress or to compete with, teens are very aware of how their info can be used, are very concerned about their privacy/data, and take great steps to protect it (usually by filtering content, less often through the use of privacy settings).

danah boyd: Teens care a lot about privacy, but they’re not thinking about government agencies or corporate marketing. They’re thinking about people who hold immediate power over them — parents, teachers, college admissions officers, military recruiters, etc. These are the “third parties” that they care about and that they work to manage their privacy in light of. But typically journalists and adults focus on how teens’ data can be used by marketers. In this sense, teens and adults are equally clueless and ambivalent.

Q: The report says teens with large Facebook friend networks are more frequent social media users and participate in a more diverse range of social platforms. (Teens with more than 600 Facebook friends are more than three times as likely to also have a Twitter account and six times as likely to use Instagram when compared with those with 150 or fewer Facebook friends.) Is there a social media divide between those who are active and well-versed in social media versus those who are not?


Madden: It’s still the case that teens feel like there’s great value in maintaining a profile on Facebook, to just have a way to get in touch with friends, and also to manage a lot of the logistics around school life, whether it’s sports or different clubs they’re a part of, they need to have a presence. Increasingly the newer platforms are appealing to teens, because they’re new and they’re providing a way for them to compartmentalize their interactions with smaller groups of people, more interest-focused. There are some interesting differences around platforms that seek to be a fundamental part of daily life and logistics and communications and those that are maybe more focused on creativity and self-expression.

Cortesi: My personal feeling, based on our focus groups, is that especially teens from middle-income families (vs. lower or higher income) are the ones not catching on/choosing not to more carefully manage their social media presence. As to what extent we can talk about a social media divide, I think it would be too early to say.

boyd: When it comes to social media, we certainly see some teens who are very sophisticated, engaged, and participatory and other teens who barely use the services. There are numerous reasons for this: time, interest, access, etc. There are definitely skills that are learned by engaging with these sites, but Pew’s data doesn’t give us a sense for what this division means among youth.

Q: African-American teens are more likely to use Twitter, more likely to be Facebook friends with celebrities, athletes, or musicians, and more likely to use a fake name on social media when compared to white teens. How do you explain these race-based trends?  

boyd: Teens engage in practices that are common among their friends and peers. American society is divided by race. As a result, we see practices that have racial components to them, not because race is what matters but because we’re seeing the division in norms across different personal networks. In my fieldwork, I found that black youth are more likely to be interested in engaging in public spaces, although they’re also more likely to want to be pseudonymous in those public spaces; Pew’s data suggests that this is a common practice. I also found that black youth are more likely to be engaged in and with pop culture; Pew’s finding that teens engage with celebrities affirms what I’ve been seeing. These norms and practices are rooted in broader cultural patterns and practices. Social media is simply making visible cultural divisions that have existed for a long time.


As boyd explains in her answer to the third question, differences in teens’ social media usage may reflect or even amplify cultural circumstances offline. If online disparities do reflect existing cultural divisions, then exactly how teens’ social media usage differs is important, especially in increasingly digital environments such as job recruiting.

A recent Fast Company article describes how kids’ social media skills develop into competitive advantages in the job searching process later on. One commenter responded, “Not everyone is looking to live their full lives on social media nor should they be pressured to.” That’s the big question: Is social media truly optional or is it becoming an unspoken requirement? Responding to studies like Pew’s, figuring out what teens’ habits mean for the growth of social networks is one side of the coin — the other side is deciding how much social media is allowed to dictate teens’ growth into new generations of working adults.

Jenny Xie is the PBS MediaShift editorial intern. Jenny is a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying architecture and management. She is a digital-media junkie fascinated by the intersection of media, design, and technology. Jenny can be found “blogging”: for MIT Admissions, tweeting “@canonind”:, and sharing her latest work and interests “here”: