Commentary

Engaging Women Online Can Leverage Digital Dollars

The oft-overlooked world of women’s media recently got a kick in the bustle with Bryan Goldberg’s PandoDaily post announcing his new site for women. A slapfest ensued, with many smart women (and even some men) weighing in on Goldberg’s alleged condescension toward those who’ve been in the space long before Bustle was a-hustlin.  

I understand the giddiness Goldberg must feel as he scans the women’s ad business and sees no clear media leader to capture all those lady-tagged dollars. And something — perhaps the fear of what disruption might mean for legacy businesses — seems to have prevented traditional women’s media from successfully leveraging the power of digital to engage mass audiences.

The opportunity for media to engage the female masses lies in enabling women to feel their impact on others.
Women are far more active than men on Facebook, and more likely to update their Facebook status and comment on other people’s updates. Then there’s the well-known popularity of Pinterest – “digital crack for women.”

These platforms do well, in large part, because they offer easy access, along with the potential to find a large audience. Women want to make content, but they also want it to be viewed and appreciated.    

Women spend an average of 42 hours online each month. We use the time to inform and entertain ourselves, and also to make an impact on others. Empowered by social media, we research and disseminate issues we care about. We post links, petitions, campaigns and more.

But many of us, if given the opportunity, could make much more. And we could make better stuff. Women are not only more likely than men to spend time on Facebook, we’re more likely to express themselves by blogging.
 
Figuring out how to unleash the latent strength of our community is key. As CRO for the women’s destination site SheKnows, I hear women tell us they are looking for media outlets that engage them. Specifically, they want media to focus on being a trusted and reliable sources. It’s important to create a community that nurtures and validates. Women are most likely to be influenced by other women in their circle. Snark is a nasty creativity killer. Even The Huffington Post recently pulled the plug on anonymous commenters.
 
Women are want guidance and ease of use. While commenting and sharing on social networks is easy, deeper forms of engagement, such as blogging can seem more daunting. Women are looking for encouragement to guide them through the process of content creation.
 
Though content production draws on intrinsic desires, media that wants to engage women needs to understand the importance of extrinsic motivators — namely, the power of being validated by a large audience. A scaled community is critical, as is the ability to widen the platform to accommodate more than 140 characters or the space available for sharing a headline.

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