Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Women of a Certain Age on Facebook

You may have noticed the story on Marketing Charts yesterday about the rapid increase in the number of women 55 and over on Facebook. The stats come from Inside Facebook, a site you should track if you are interested in marketing on Facebook. They are consistent with more general stats from eMarketer (February 9, 2009) that show rapid growth for a broad “adult” demographic.

If any of us had any doubt that social media are not just for the kids, this should put those doubts to rest. My question was why women over 55 are rushing to Facebook. I don’t find any clear answers to that question, although I did find a commenter on one blog post that pointed out that it’s easier to use than MySpace. I’ve argued all along that Facebook is a somewhat more civil environment than MySpace, one in which older consumers may feel more comfortable. Perhaps both are true, but that doesn’t give a solid answer to the question.

I wondered if the predominance of women over men on Facebook was a hint. Women outnumber men in every age category—that’s interesting. Is it the ability to communicate easily on Facebook that draws women? I think so. Is it the fact that men have sports networks to occupy their time? There may be something to that also, but women have special interest networks—health, family-oriented etc.-- other than Facebook too.

A very few marketers are beginning to see ways to take advantage of the presence of women and their predisposition to communicate. A good example is Dove’s Pay Beauty Forward app. Basically it allows a user to send an e-flower to another Facebook user. Note that for each e-flower Dove contributes a dollar to its Self-Esteem Fund. That’s a nice touch, and it ties this marketing effort back to the long-running and highly successful “Real Beauty” campaign. It is all nicely integrated and that may be part of the reason 12,726 e-flowers have been sent since the app launched last year. I imagine you’ll have to be signed into Facebook to explore the program, but it’s worth the effort. Be sure to see the "what is pay beauty forward" screen; it's hard to link to.

Ok, so women of all age groups are on Facebook. Can you use it to reach your target audience? Use Facebook’s targeting tool to find out.

But that’s not the biggest challenge. Can you come up with an app that engages and provides value to your target audience? And, oh yes, it has to support your brand promise! Notice that I’m not defining customer value here; there are a range of possibilities from entertainment to philanthropy to communication. The challenge—both strategic and creative—is to come up with something appealing and to execute it in a way that’s at home in the Facebook environment and attracts your target audience.

Most of us are not very far along that road. How to increase our understanding? “Participate on Facebook and/or other social networks” is the answer I keep giving. That’s the “listen first” rule.

With a certain level of understanding, you then may want to talk to members of your target audience about how they are using social networks. Does anyone know of a marketer who is using a social network to talk to customers about how they use the network?

1 comment:

VibrantNation said...

Boomer women are a powerful yet ignored demographic, and a surprising amount of them are using the internet to get their news and information - and also traditional sources like TV, newspapers, radio, etc., an online community dedicated to boomer women, polled its members to find out what resources 50+ women are using today! Read more here: