Social Media May Have a 30 Year History, But The Impact on Marketing to Women Took Place in the Last Five Or So

Women and SMWhile it seems that social media happened overnight, the technology has actually been evolving over the past three decades as you can see in the Infographic from Simplify360 below.

Even, Six Degrees, considered the first modern social network, was launched as early as 1997 allowing users to create profiles and become friends with other users. Yet, although it attracted as many as 3.5 million members at one point, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon appears to have had much longer staying power. Perhaps just a bit before it’s time, Six Degrees shut down in 2001, just three years before “The Facebook” launched.

But for marketers, social media DID transform the world of advertising virtually overnight. Especially, for those brands needing to reach the ever-growing, ever-powerful female audience.

In less than a decade, or to be more realistic, over the past five years, social media has disrupted a one-hundred+ year advertising model that has experienced little dramatic change since television, or maybe cable, entered the picture. And even those media were merely extensions of existing models.

Women caught on to the benefits of social media immediately and have not looked back. Many women love having large followings and the instant feeling of satisfaction you get from having many people like your photos. In fact, using an Instagram bot, similar to the one found at, can help you to grow your Instagram profile exponentially. But there are a number of other reasons why women love social media. From the ability to express themselves, to stay in touch with family across the country, find long lost friends or make new ones. But realizing the strength of their voice has had the greatest impact on brands. As early as 2009, we were suggesting that social media would place the female consumer in control. We are pretty much there and it has only taken six years. So, what will happen over the next six years?

If you are trying to reach the female, it is not enough to just understand her, marketers must figure out how she uses social media. It is no longer an to option to just be on social media. There must be a strategy.

Research from Pew Research Center found that the percentage of female Internet users who use social networking sites well exceeds that of men (75% vs. 63%, respectively) and women are also more active in their use of these sites.

According to Digital Women Influencers research conducted by KRC Research for Weber Shandwick:

  • Different women have different social network preferences
  • 86% have a social media account/profile with 2.2 accounts on average
  • 81% are on Facebook, by far the most prevalent social media account
  • Women spend an average of 12 hours per week using social media (nearly 2 hours/day)
  • Women say say some of their best friends they know only through Facebook or Twitter
  • 24% of women would rather socialize through social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, than in person

So, while it is fun to take a look at the last last 30 years and see how social media crept up on us, it is probably more beneficial for marketers appealing to the female, to take a look at the past five years, in anticipation of what is to come.





Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising,Birmingham, AL. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

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