Friday, June 08, 2007

Women Business and Blogging - Jory Des Jardins

The third plenary at the WBBC conference was by founder of Blogher, Jory Des Jardins. Her talk was entitled: Tapping Into the Web's Power Influencers: Women.

The talk centred on the questions of why women are becoming influential as bloggers and how does blogging validate women's experiences online. She began with the story of how Blogher began, with Jory's observation that around half of the people online were women, but so few were participating in conferences about technology? Jory claims that this is a legacy effect, where the founders of the web as men were also linking to each other. However the founding of Blogher began to change all that, both as an event and as a business.

The main body of her talk followed the points below, which are mostly summarised from her PPT slides.

Media has been shifting so that...

Virtual reputation is everything: What happens when you google yourself? What do you find? Whether we know it or not, you have an online reputation which you need to maintain.

Dispersed media/dispersed control has resulted in multiple sources of expertise on the web, and the authors who are anyone and everyone, not just those who are socially sanctioned.

We now suffer from information saturation - where we now prioritise items we are 'invited' to read (wikis ,IM, Skype, RSS) We need things to come to us, rather than going out and looking for them.

Women will rule! Women recommend and promote usually and tend to interact more. Blogging is the 'perfect media' for women, and exploits their talents in communication.

Marketers will finally 'get it': Women are now spending more time on line than watching TV!

She next produced a summary of 'Women & their habits online':

Women outnumber men online , overall as well as among marrieds, among people with kids at home, in every age category but 65+

Women outspend men online and off, women who blog are 30% more likely than average female internet users to shop online and spend more when they buy.

Women outpace men online

women are equally as likely as men to 'read a blog' and 'create a blog'

Women write between 46-53% blogs

Women's use of words on a blog 'far exceeds that of men'

(Sources for this information include: Moms online Parenting with the web 2.0, emarketer June 2006,comscore, Pew Internet and American Life Project.)

Her next point debated why Social Media is Important Now, which really looked at the transition from web 1.0 to web 2.0, where...

Web 1.0: would use marketing dollars to draw traffic, then drop them when the showed up, Emphasise page views / clickthroughs, but used web pages as conduits of information with no means for accountability or engagement. As she points out, looking for a post on a discussion boards doesn't work if you want to extract information via the web.

In comparison (and contrast), Web 2.0: Devotes resources to interaction: companies understand the importance, time and resources needed to interact effectively. She argued that companies need someone who not just writes but read blogs. You need to read and interact with other bloggers, not just sit writing one on their own.

In line with this, the nature of engagement has changed, raising questions of how you maintain the quality of blogs? Blogher's response ist to have an editorial standard for their blogging network. You don't want to comprise your message, but you need to have quality. New measures of interaction are comments, posts and links. These show the quality of the traffic given, not just the quantity of it.

She looked at the profile of women bloggers, according to recent Blogher Reader demographic survey results:

94% female, 87% US

64% between 28-40 years old

51% visit daily, 93% will return

94% with greater than high school education

70% married

58% have children at home

53% blog themselves

64% state an income greater than $50k

More significantly, Blogher has become a place of community and a place of interchange, not just a site of information. For companies who want to exploit this, women bloggers become an important marketting resource because bloggers pass the message on, they amplify the effect of anything they are talking about.

Small business use blogging because it gets them renown more quickly. Therefore it is important to engage with them efficiently. The two key measures are Engagement and Influence. How you measure these is debatable. It can be quantifiable (comments, traffic) and qualitative (post quality, respect) Even if someone blogs about your product there is no guarantee that someone will go and buy it. However, for many bloggers money is not the important thing, recognition and reputation is more significant.

She issued a list of tips for companies wanting to reach women:

1. Support bloggers and what interests them

2. Make your promotion blogworthy

3. Help women connect

4. Respect women's preferences

5. Understand how conversations work.

All of which is great advice. Jory's talk was engaging and showed the commercial potential of women and blogging.



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