I wrote in Is Social Media a Woman Thing? that social networks require a woman’s touch in order to increase the network’s size and diversity. I was surprised at some of the push back I got when I gave a presentation on this topic recently. I think the metaphor I used, likening social networks to neighborhood bars, was discomfiting to some. Basically it works like this; You want to draw men (usually higher bar tabs) into a bar, offer free drinks to women. Women will cluster and drink judiciously, men will prowl and drink to demonstrate prowess.
Terribly sorry if this is an uncomfortable image to you. Imagine going to the dean of your college and saying you want $100k to go bar hopping in 20-30 cities with some of your students and friends to do research. That’s uncomfortable.
What we learned in our online social network research and published was that the easiest and quickest way to increase the size of an online social network is to get women involved. Specifically, spikes in traffic occur two times; “Spike #1 occurs when a female posts an entry or comment. Spike #2 is that a woman’s post or comment spurs other posts and comments from both genders.”
Further research indicates that it’s not only the quantity of men that will gather, it’s also the type of male that will gather. Again and as I pointed out and wrote about previously, what happens in the offline world happens online, we as a species simply need time to find ways to do it online. Think of walking on the bottom of a pool. You can do it, you just need to practice. Same thing here. You can do things online socially that you’re use to doing offline, you just need to practice.
So here I’ll offer another trick for getting more traffic on your social network site (Wiki, blog, whatever). The example offline is the “women’s section” of a gym. This is a place where only women can work out. No men allowed. The metaphor is quite accurate in the online world, too. Create an area on your social networking site where only women can gather. The offline women’s section of the gym becomes the online Internal Social Network or ISN. The rest of the social network — the area where anyone and everyone can gather — is the External Social Network or ESN. This really isn’t anything new except that it’s now being applied to online social environments. Any site that has a “members login” section is using the principle, just not in a social environment sense.
Women will use your social networking features more often and more actively than if a site only has a single area where both genders congregate equally. We noticed these elements in both our blogging research and our LeadGen/DemandGen studies. Fascinating stuff, really.
And as noted previously, the more women come into your bar — I mean, social network — the more men will follow.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
- Know How Someone’s Thinking in 10 Seconds or Less Half-day training at Toronto Emetrics Marketing Optimzation Summit, 3 April 08
- Know How Someone’s Thinking in 10 Seconds or Less Half-day training at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, 13 June 08
- Toronto Emetrics Marketing Optimzation Summit, 31 March – 2 April 08
- New Communications Forum 2008, 22-25 April 08 at The Vineyard Creek Inn & Spa, Sonoma County CA
- San Francisco Emetrics Marketing Optimzation Summit, 4-7 May 08
- SUNY Marketing Professionals Conference at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, 11-13 June 08
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