How time flies – to think this time, a decade ago, the IT community was fully deployed averting the potential catastrophe caused by a bug called Y2K.
Those were hardly the good ‘ole days – once the crisis “that never happened” was over, unemployment in the IT community soared as the Internet’s first bubble well and truly burst. They were lean times.
To help us forget about the fortunes that had not been realized, the savings that had gone up in smoke and the expense accounts that had evaporated, we gathered in pubs and bars (as you do) talking about Wolfram’s whole new science, slime mould, emergence, complexity, Dee Hock and the Chaordic Organization and got excited about open source, the emergence of XML, inter operable web services and how Arsenal was faring in the Premier League! Anything to take our minds off the anxiety associated with no safety net and no income. Thank goodness it was too expensive to “surf” the net or we would all have been shut away in splendid isolation, each believing the other to be gainfully employed and surviving better than we were. Online communities were the other hot topic of the day so we built our profiles on Ecademy, networked like crazy and began to imagine a world run according to the Cluetrain Manifesto.
We were the rebellious Lutherans of our time and, in keeping with the brave modernity of it all, Thomas Power, founder of Ecademy, suggested that I write a book called The Web is Female. Spurred on by participation in a network called High Tech Women, I even prepared an outline. But it would have been ahead of its time. Given the huge unemployment rates that existed in what was a male dominated community of software developers, the book would not have found a receptive market then. My business partner, Leon Benjamin and I did publish a book called Winning By Sharing that contained chapter titled The Network is Female and Leon has subsequently blogged on the topic here.
A decade later, and the cycle repeats. But it’s not the IT community that’s suffering to the same extent – it’s an army of displaced journalists, creative art directors, account managers, advertising execs and their coterie of support personnel. They are the ones trying to make sense of a brave new world in which the customer has the upper hand and stolen the limelight.
So what has that to do with the title of this post? Well, a growing number of those customers are female and the inclusion of more women within the ranks of software design might just ensure a more successful future. It was women who really embraced the mobile phone and now social media. Just look at these recent statistics – courtesy of a three parties, Brian Solis, Information and blogger, Ian Delaney.
I contend that social media to women is like water is to fish and air to birds.
There was a time when men’s innate characteristics were essential for survival. Let’s face it, competing with a sabre tooth tiger or ruthless marauding tribe can’t be achieved by consensus building or by being nice. But when famine or war mean groups have to live close to one another, or when scarce resources necessitate sharing a continuous workload, then women are more likely to succeed. All of the characteristics of the female gender, as identified in the table below, make women ideal contributors to the use of social media.
Source: Lisa Witter & Lisa Chen: The She Spot Why Women are Market for Changing the World & Guy Kawasaki's article in article in Open Forum
When the authors of this analysis were asked what do women want when they are marketed to, their reply to this and other questions indicated the following:* Evidence that the company cares about them
* Opportunities to connect to other people The chance to develop relationships over the long term
* Recognition that women want control over their lives
* A personal approach – let people present the message
* Lots of detail, substance
* Evidence that the company cares & is acting responsibly and gain their input
* Easy ways to share with peers.
Women make the ideal users of social media and, because of their propensity to use this medium more than males, it means that they are potentially more influential overall in a marketplace where women control over 73% of household spending.
Further evidence of the match between the female gender and social media use comes from a recent report looking at Millennial Mums (women born between 1977 and 1996, responsible in the US at least for 68% of all births). This research, undertaken by Mr Youth and Repnation, shows that this segment of the population are:1. Multi-tech, Multi-taskers enabling these women to streamline and do more with their busy lives
2. Active community builders and participants – they use online communities to obtain support and information while making the transition into motherhood, a habit that will likely stay with them through all life’s passages
3. Crowdsourcing their own decision-making – preferring to seek advice from peers in similar situations over celebrity endorsements
4. Willing to Share to the point of overshare – using social media as a tool and platform to record, manage, and distribute information about their changing lives to an extent unprecedented in human history.
The authors of this brief but very important report recommend 10 rules that brand need obey when reaching out to Millennial Moms.
Now clearly, I don’t fall into that demographic and my daughter is under 30 and not yet a Mum (no I am NOT rushing her into it!) but she is definitely a Millennial and, from my own memories plus knowledge of my daughter and the lovely young women in tourism whom I work, this report is spot on.
In conclusion, if the travel industry and its community of technology providers want to appeal to this group, they’d be advised to seek and deploy more feminine input than has been evident in the past.
So guys: if you care about this market do three things:
1. declare your interest and curiosity by commenting to this post (failure to do so will be taken as evidence that you don't care!);
2. Tweet this post among your peers (male and female); and
3. Consider engaging this cohort more actively -
4. Share your success and failures marketing to women so we can learn..
It’s a subject that won’t go away and neither will we. The following quote that has been circling the internet is apropos.
Ignore us at your peril