Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mashable: The Top 2009 Social Media Trends for Moms

My latest guest post for Mashable, The Top 2009 Social Media Trends for Moms, went live today. Check it out here. Feel free to comment below or directly on Mashable's site.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Insights on the iPhone Mom

Greystripe's Q3 Mobile Advertising Insights Report provides the most recent data about a little studied demographic: the iPhone mom. According to Greystripe, "the iPhone has greatly altered the mobile application user demographic" whereas in the past mothers were not "a group that advertisers could readily reach through mobile applications." Currently, however, "the iPhone Mom is now a common and active mobile application user. This demographic is particularly interesting to advertisers as iPhone Moms are the dominant purchasing decision makers for households with several consumers."

So who are the iPhone Moms? 62% are between the ages of 25-44, with an additional 24% between 45-54 years old. They are well educated: 30% have a Bachelor's degree, 4% have attended at least some graduate school, and an additional 16% have an MA degree or higher. iPhone moms are varied in the number of children they have and the ages of their children, although they tend to skew older.

Moms download a variety of applications. A full 94% of iPhone moms download games and entertainment apps, 76% download music apps, and 50% use social networking apps. They find out about apps through different sources, including looking at the top apps (67%), checking out the featured apps in the App Store (65%), and through friends (64%).

In addition to applications, 87% of moms use the device for email, 81% use the maps, 68% use the calendar, and 58% for social networking. 79% use their phone for activities related to shopping. The most common shopping related activity? Using their iPhone to locate the nearest store.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Interview with Design on a Dime Host Kristan Cunningham

I recently interviewed design expert Kristan Cunningham, host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime” and frequent contributor to the “Rachel Ray Show” about design tips, her favorite online resources, and how social media has changed her life. Special thanks to Raymour & Flanigan for coordinating. Full disclosure: Raymour & Flanigan contacted me to promote their collaboration with Kristan. I received no financial compensation for this post.

What’s the one thing that can make or break a room?
The biggest “bang for your buck” is paint. Nothing can make the same impact on a room for the least amount of money. The tone of a room is also very important. A piece can look completely different in two spaces. Things like lighting; dimmers can soften up a room for impact. Additionally, a signature piece- a large armoire or a sleigh bed- can completely change the tone of a room. I would recommend investment pieces in the transitional style that are not too modern or too traditional, as they can provide the most leverage.

You’re very adept at finding quick solutions. What is your favorite easy tip?
One of my favorites is what I like to call the “motel to hotel” transition. Instead of making your bed by pulling the covers all the way to the end of the bed, fold the comforter over twice and add some throw pillows. It costs no money and only requires a small investment of your time, and it can really add definition.

You do a lot of segments on maximizing small spaces. What are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen people make when space is an issue?
The biggest mistake people make with small spaces is under scaling. Don’t be afraid to use big pieces! You don’t need to be confined to dining chairs. One way to get more leverage out of large furniture is to find “double duty” pieces, like an ottoman with storage space or an armoire where you can hide the TV.
Scaling can be an issue for large spaces as well. The great room is becoming more common, a space that is often three rooms in one. Area rugs can help divide the space, as can large items, like an armoire that can visually break up a big wall.

Let’s talk a little bit about your partnership with Raymour & Flanigan. You’re currently their design expert.
Furniture retailer Raymour & Flanigan brought me in to help their consumers and help them make educated decisions about their furniture and their homes. They are really committed to giving consumers information and tools. Their website has a Design Center section with videos, tip and tools, like a room planner application. I also write articles for the site and recently put together a style book with ideas.

In addition to Raymour & Flanigan, what are your favorite online resources?
My “morning check”- the sites I browse on a daily basis- are Apartment Therapy, Remodelista, and Design Sponge. Blogs are great because they post a variety of resources, from gallery showings to details on sales. I also love the photo tours- being able to get inspiration from real people’s houses. Additionally, both the LA Times and NY Times have great home design content. They have been making an effort recently to include items at different price points and trying to show that design isn’t only for the wealthy. I’ve always believed that good design is good design, no matter what it costs. I also check 1st Dibs regularly for vintage items.

On a more personal note, I was wondering if you could speak to your social media usage. How has social media helped you build your personal brand?
The uptake of social media has been amazing in way it has changed my contact with fans. It has enabled me to keep up with people and share information much faster and more easily. I’m currently redoing my website, and the new site will include my YouTube videos, as well as links to my Twitter and Facebook pages. I also have content on Raymour & Flanigan’s YouTube and Facebook pages. I love that I can post information on Twitter and it reaches my fans immediately. I can tell them about a sale or an interesting article. I can provide content online almost instantly, whereas a TV episode usually takes several weeks to produce.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Companies Should Use Mobile to Reach Women

With the smart phone battle underway, the US mobile Internet population is increasingly drastically. eMarketer estimates that 29.2% of mobile phone users log on to the Internet from their phones at least once a month, up from 22.3% last year. According to  BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, many of those qualify as “heavy” users—those who go online via mobile more than 10 times per week. And their online activities- researching products and services, purchasing items, and using mobile coupons- closely mimic the top online activities for women.

According to Rick Ducey, the Chief Strategy Officer for BIA/Kelsey, "Consumers have basically doubled their use of the mobile platform for non-voice communications....This represents a fundamental and rapid shift in media use, which needs to be considered in determining the appropriate mix and spending levels among local platforms. Media companies that do not currently offer a differentiated mobile advertising option had better get there quickly.”

Mobile advertising could be a particularly effective tool when targeting women. Smart phones are making the lives of women increasingly easier, with synchronized calendars, mobile applications, and the ability to access the Internet on the go. Forward-thinking companies would have the first-mover advantage to effectively women, particularly young women and moms.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Clorox and Toys R Us Take Charitable Programs to their Facebook Pages

Some key elements of a successful social media campaign are engagement, relevance and uniqueness. Two major brands have adopted that philosophy in their latest Facebook Page campaigns. Clorox Clean Up and Toys R Us are reaching out to moms through charitable programs. Although these companies have traditionally been involved in sponsoring clothing drives and donating to children's programs, particularly around the holidays, this is the first year that they are promoting these activities, and incorporating moms' support, on their Facebook pages.

Clorox Clean Up has created an application on their Facebook page where users can nominate a local non-profit program for children. The application, called Bright Future, allows fans to nominate their favorite local non-profit until November 29th. The charities will compete for one of five $10,000 grants and the winning organizations will be featured in People Magazine.

Toys R Us and basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal have been working together on the Toys for Tots holiday drive for several years, and this year, they've expanded the program on Toys R Us' Facebook page. Toys R Us has promised to donate $1 of toys for every new Facebook fan. Once a user becomes a fan, they are encouraged to publish the story to their newsfeed in order encourage friends and family to join the campaign as well. So far, over $25,000 were raised, and Toys R Us' fan count is up to over 350,000.

I think these campaigns are a win-win situation: They promote the brand and corporate social responsibility. What do you think? Should companies use charities as a marketing tool? Comment below.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rent the Runway: Designer Style Made Affordable

I have been eyeing various incarnations of Herve Leger's bandage dress for over a year now, checking Saks and Net-a-Porter's websites regularly, and trying it on in several boutiques.
And every time, I almost make the purchase, but in the end, I can't justify the $1500 price tag. I had almost given up on my dream of surprising my boyfriend in what is often considered the sexiest dress of the decade, but then I discovered a brilliant solution for fellow recessionistas: Rent the Runway.

Rent the Runway is an invite-only site that enables women to rent a designer dress (labels like Badgley Mischka, Matthew Williamson, and Proenza Schouler) for between $50-$200. I can wear my beloved bandage dress for a full four days for only $150.

According to founders Jenny Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman, being fashionable should be easy: "As fun-loving girls growing up in New York, we observed the latent need for a service like Rent the Runway to accommodate our need for special dresses for all of the special occasions in our lives. Rent the Runway is designed for girls just like us who have many fun events in their lives, but don’t want the guilt or the expense of purchasing so many different outfits. Every girl wants the Carrie Bradshaw closet but who has the space, time, or money to assemble such a collection?"

Rent the Runway allows users to search for dresses by designer, style, and trend. They also categorized dresses by occasions as varied as "girls' night out", "fall wedding", and even the "this is getting serious date". Users unsure of their size can order the same dress in two sizes, and those debating between two (or three) dresses can order a second dress for only $25. Dresses arrive with a pre-paid envelope (like Netflix) and users can chat with the site's stylists for sizing, accessorizing, and other advice. There is even a same-day courier service for those in New York City.

Fleiss and Hyman comment: "Especially with the popularity of Facebook, girls face a social pressure to constantly be on trend and avoid repeating outfits. We ourselves have faced so many times in our lives when we would love to pop into Barney’s to buy the latest Herve mini but can’t justify the purchase. Rent the Runway enables girls to have fun with fashion, reach outside of their comfort zone to experiment with new designers, and expand their wardrobes beyond their wildest dreams!"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How To: Throw a Cocktail Party on a Budget

Andrea Wyn Schall has spent more than a decade planning some of the biggest A-list parties in Hollywood, including the Screen Actors Guild Awards®. She is the author of Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget.

The holidays are fast approaching and before we know it, another year will have passed us by. So before the year’s end, why not celebrate the present with friends and family at a cocktail party that is easy and fun to pull together? Send out invites, pick a theme, and create your menu. Put together a party checklist, and you're ready to go!

After deciding on your budget, determine your guest list and then check out one of the many on-line invitation websites to help you create and manage your guest list. MyPunchBowl and Cocodot are both great sources for high-quality party invitations. They provide various invitation templates, help you create and manage your guest list and RSVPs, and also offer plenty of theme ideas and other resources.

Once the invites are in the “mail”, begin to cross off other items on your party checklist. Why not try a 70’s theme? For music, use Pandora’s iPhone application to stream disco music or share playlist ideas with friends on 8Tracks. Check out budget décor items from Oriental Trading Company or Party Supplies Hut for must-have extras like a mirror ball, door beads, disco paper plates and napkins. Don’t like disco? Blogs like Create My Event and Thoughtfully Simple offer inspiration and DIY tricks.

Select an hors d’oeuvres and cocktail menu that will appeal to everyone’s palette, avoiding known allergens such as nuts and shellfish. For your bar, try to include a signature drink and plenty of nonalcoholic beverages as well.

Some suggestions for easy to make, budget-friendly appetizers:

Mushroom Rolls
Honey Lemon Chicken Skewers with Vegetables
Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade Bruschetta
Seared Beef Tenderloin Mini Sandwiches with Mustard-Horseradish Sauce
Red Salmon Dip
Mini Peppermint Cheesecakes with Chocolate Chips
Lemon Cookies

With your checklist completed, your 70s party is ready to go. Don’t forget to have fun and do the hustle!

To find more helpful party planning tips, menus and recipes, advice, pictures and more go to Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Latest Facebook Stats: 57% of Users are Women

Industry blog Inside Facebook recently released the August 2009 statistics for the #1 social networking site. According to Nielsen, Facebook's had than 87 million US visitors during the month of June, compared with less than 63 million US MySpace visitors that month. Women continue to take the lead on Facebook as 45.4 million women make up 57% of the site's visitors.

As Facebook continues to grow, however, its demographics keep shifting. Although more women use Facebook than men, men have made up the majority of audience growth. In August 2009 , the highest growth category was males ages 13 to 17, whose numbers increased by 14.5%, followed by men ages 45 to 54, rising 12.8%. Among women, the highest growth was in the 45 to 54 and 55 to 65 age ranges, which were up 11.8% and 11%, respectively.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MyEhive: Buy Handmade Goods in the UK & Ireland

Do you love Etsy but live in Europe? MyEHive is an online marketplace for handmade goods for the UK & Ireland. And although MyEhive is a global marketplace, it encourages sourcing lo cally to help create wealth in communities for a durable future. Its focus on the UK market makes it an attractive alternative to Etsy for European artisans and buyers.

The site offers a variety of handmade items, from soaps to invitations to jewelry. The items vary from kitschy, such as felt DIY iPhone covers, to high end (like the Love's Dream necklace with Swarovski crystals and freshwater pearls by Melissa Leon.) MyEHive's Coccoon Blog showcases some of the most unique items on the site.

MyEHive has created a retro-style demo video. Check it out below.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Relevancy is Key When Targeting Women Online

Online marketing firm Prospectiv recently conducted a consumer survey targeting women online. The study, which surveyed over 1000 women, found that relevancy is crucial when it comes to marketing communications online. The results also pointed to some key differences between women with children and those without.

Some of the highlights:
  • Women want to see information that is relevant to their lifestyle. This is particularly relevant for mothers: 45% of mothers said they are most interested in receiving marketing information that pertains to their lifestyle, vs. 30% of non-moms.

  • Moms are more flexible than non-moms about email marketing. Only 20% of moms said,
    "Don't send me anything at all," while 35% of non-mothers said the same.

  • Nearly half of respondents (45%) to the Prospectiv survey said that brands can communicate with them most effectively through product samples offered online. Respondents who are mothers were more in favor than non-mothers of product samples (47% vs. 38%, respectively.)

  • 39% of survey respondents said trying a sample would most likely get them to purchase a product. The other options were: having a coupon to use, necessity, or receiving a personal recommendation.

  • Coupons were also viewed as an effective marketing tool. 53% of the women surveyed had
    clipped coupons and 18% had redeemed online coupons in the past year.

  • 35% of repsondents said they are reluctant to share information such as email address, age, and gender, but 71% would share that information to receive discounts, promotional offers, and coupons.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Daily Worth Provides Financial Advice for Women

DailyWorth wants to change the way women view money. Their goal is to "deliver practical tips, empowering ideas and the occasional kick in the pants" via their daily email, community, and blog.

Founder Amanda Steinberg created DailyWorth because "No one is going to fix financial inequity for women. We have to recognize our own self-worth, ask for higher salaries, invest more aggressively, and build our own wealth." According to some facts on their site:

  • In 2009 in the U.S., Women still make only $0.70 for every dollar earned by men. See the report.

  • Nearly two-thirds of working women earn less than $30,000 per year.

  • Women retire with on average 1/3 less in savings than men, yet live longer.

The site covers topics from Capital Gains Tax to responsible shopping. Additionally, DailyWorth provides positive affirmations, networking advice, and tips for negotiating wages.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

45.4 Million US Women on Facebook

Remember the days when social networking was a male dominated activity, particularly for older demographics? According to Inside Facebook's latest figures, those days are long gone. The August 2009 breakdown of US Facebook users revealed women outnumbered men by at least 1.2 million in every age demographic.

While those results were obvious for the 13-17, 18-25, and 26-34 year old categories, they came as a pleasant surprise for the 35-44, 45-54, and 55-65 year olds. They are a combined presence of 45.4 million women, making up over 52% of the 87 million Americans on Facebook.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Burberry to Launch Social Networking Site

According to the Financial Times, luxury brand Burberry is planning to launch a social networking website next month. The site, Artofthetrench.com, will primarily feature users who send in pictures of themselves wearing or using Burberry.

Angela Ahrendts, Burberry's chief executive, said about the site: “These might not even be customers yet. Or they may be a customer for a bottle of fragrance or for eyewear. But these are the customers who need the brand experience, who need to feel the brand. That word-of-mouth spreads through their social networks and continues to be a positive conversation [about Burberry] . . . that is so powerful.”

Artofthetrench is just one of the social media initiatives Burberry is planning. Their Facebook page has over 670,000 fans, and provides frequently updated photo and video footage. Burberry also has Twitter and YouTube pages, and will be live streaming their Spring/Summer 2010 Prorsum womenswear show tomorrow, September 22nd, at 6:30 PM London time. Check out a video below interviewing Harry Potter star and Burberry model Emma Watson.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

McKinsey Report Shows Business Impact of Social Media

McKinsey & Company released the results of a global survey in the McKinsey Quarterly. The survey polled companies about the effectiveness of "Web 2.0" tools and their impact, both within the company and externally. The study revealed that many technologies were not only useful in relationship building with clients and external partners, but also with employees.

Internally, video sharing was the most effective, with 48% of respondents seeing benefits. However, blogs were the most useful tool for external relationships, with 51% claiming to have benefited for customer-related purposes as well as for working with external partners and suppliers. Social networking also ranked high, with 48% seeing customer-related benefits and 49% reporting benefits related to external partners and suppliers. RSS, wikis, and podcasts ranked above 35% in all categories.

52% of respondents said Web 2.0 tools increased marketing effectiveness, 43% reported higher customer satisfaction and 38% said Web 2.0 reduced their marketing costs. The high-tech/telecom industry (unsurprisinly) reported customer-related benefits most frequently (65%). However, business/legal/professional services firms were not far behind, at 60%, revealing that the benefits of social media can and do extend beyond the tech industry.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Q&A with Jessie Weiss from Fashion Blog Les Mads

As part of my blogger interview series, I connected with Jessie Weiss, one of the founders of the Germany-based fashion blog Les Mads. Les Mads is published in both English and German, and is highly regarded as one of Europe's top fashion blogs.
What is unique about fashion in Germany? Is there a difference German and other European style bloggers?
Well actually Germany is a bit slower when it comes to trends, it's a bit conservative. You need your time to get accepted ;) Syle bloggers are still a bit shy to push their own individuality but I think we do in a good way.

What upcoming trend do you think will be hot in a year?
Trend in one year - well, let me wait and see the upcoming shows this september ;) Fashion is so fast, trends get adopted in a second... nevertheless I'd say the 90's will celebrate a big comeback because the 80's phase is almost over and we need something new.
Is there a unique German style? Can style be unique by one country or has it become more or less all the same all around the world?
Well I think we dont have a particular style here like all the Swedish style bloggers. Berlin is the only city in Germany where people look like they're from all around the world, which of course comes from street style blogs.

Do you have a fashion icon?
I think Chloe Sevigny's style is great. I have no idea what it is, but she can throw on everything and it looks good!

What is the future of blogging?
More influence, more opportunities to become part of the fashion scene which was more less private a few years back.

*Special thanks to Anne Koophamel

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plan Your Dream Wedding on a Budget

As a follow-up to my Mashable post on How To: Plan a Wedding on the Web, I've posted some additional wedding planning information.

Wedding planning can be overwhelming, especially when considering the price tag. With so many details to take care of and options to choose from, it’s no wonder that there are professional wedding planners to coordinate their dream wedding. But for couples on a budget (or those who just want a more active role planning their wedding) this may not be an option. Fortunately, there are many online resources available to offer advice, ideas, and even some deals. Your big day can be everything you had hoped for- without breaking your bank account.

Go Beyond the Big Sites for Inspiration
The Knot and Martha Stewart Weddings are incredibly rich with resources (more on that below). However, they’re not the only wedding websites out there. Many smaller sites and blogs provide inspiration with gorgeous photos, in depth information, and suggestions from real weddings. Best of all, they feature emerging brands (who generally have friendlier price tags) and thrifty ideas. Some of my favorites include:

Green Wedding Shoes
Kiss The Groom
Polka Dot Bride
Something Old, Something New
Sugar Love Weddings
Vintage Glam Weddings

Find Affordable Attire
National retailers like J. Crew have added Wedding sections with reasonably-priced options for the entire wedding party. Ann Taylor sells mix-and-match bridesmaids’ dresses, and hosts a user-uploaded photo collection of their dresses in real weddings. David’s Bridal is another affordable retailer that further streamlines the process with its Dress Your Wedding tool. The web app is a “virtual dress rehearsal” that enables couples to try out styles and color combinations on virtual models. If you’re dying for a designer dress, check online for sample sales and trunk shows. Even Kleinfeld has a sale coming up.

Dazzle With DIY Details
Printable invitations have come a long way. Invite Site and Paper Source offer high quality designs that could easily be confused for custom work. For finishing touches, print with a custom font, add ribbon, or even create a stamp with your picture on it. Glö, which launches next month, will offer customizable paperless invitations that combine with wedding websites and guest list management. Crafty individuals can find ideas for favors and decor on My DIY Wedding Day and I-Do-It-Yourself.

Create a Registry for the Things You Want
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you prefer something other than a blender or gravy boat, consider some alternative registry options. Have your sights set on an amazing honeymoon? Websites like Traveler’s Joy and Honey Luna enable guests to contribute to individual experiences (candlelit dinner, gondola ride) or the trip as a whole. Even Starwood Hotels, home of Sheraton and W Hotels, have caught on to the honeymoon registry trend.

Want to use your big day as an opportunity to give back? JustGive.org has a database of nearly 1.5 million charities and the aptly named I Do Foundation has partnered with non-profits in a variety of fields, from healthcare and education to the environment and social justice. Additionally, Heifer International, an established organization committed to. creating sustainable sources of food and income, offers its own registry.

Love wine? Check out Morrell’s. Passionate about art? Art-Exchange has its own registry. Want a little bit of everything? My Registry, Zank You, and Wish Pot enable couples to add individual items from any store.

Use Local Forums to Find Deals
As previously mentioned, the large wedding sites have their advantages, one of them being their broad reach. The Knot has local boards based on region, with at least one dedicated board per state. Brides has a local vendors section, complete with photos from real weddings. On the Wedding Channel’s community, user profiles include location, making it easy to reach out to other brides in the area.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Wedding planning can have its stressful moments, but don’t forget to have fun! After all, the wedding is a celebration of your love and commitment to one another, gifts more valuable than anything money can buy.

Dating Site Recommends Different Strategies for Men and Women

OkTrends, the official blog for online dating site OkCupid, recently posted some interesting data about response rates. Their post "How To Get People To Reply To Your Messages In Online Dating, Part I" suggests that techniques should vary for men and women.

They posted a graph comparing the percentage of replies and conversations men received when contacting women, based on message length. On the graph, red is the ratio of messages that get any reply, while green is the ratio of messages that get a reply that in turn gets replied to by the original sender.
According to the graph, it appears that longer messages would help men. However, when OkTrends factored in the amount of time it takes to type a message, they suggested that, in terms of time put in vs. conversations generated, shorter is actually better and recommended an ideal message length of 200 words, about one minute worth of typing.

For women, however, they recommended an even more concise approach to messaging. The blog recommended that the optimal first outreach be approximately 50 words long.

Of course, the data only corresponds to one dating site, and does not include men reaching out to men, or women reaching out to women. It does, however, highlight the varying communication styles that men and women seem to prefer, albeit subconsciously.

Monday, August 31, 2009

More Women than Men Use Twitter

Social media analytics provider Sysomos recently released a report on Twitter entitled “An In-Depth Look Inside the Twitter World." The report revealed some interesting, and surprising, data about the microblogging site.

Twitter has seen impressive growth this past year. According to the report, 72.5% of all users joined Twitter between January and May of this year. 53% are women, and 81% are under 30 years old.

And although it seems like most Twitter users are constantly microblogging, approximately 85% of users are a silent majority, updating 0 times each day. 6.48% tweet daily and 2.8% update twice a day. The percentage of users tweeting 3, 4, 5, etc. times a day continues to decrease until 9 daily updates, with only 0.18% updating. However, over 1% of the Twitter population tweets 10 or more timex per day. That essentially equates to 75% of all Twitter activity coming from just 5% of users.

Similarly, 92.4% of users follow less than 100 people, and 93.68% are followed by 1-100 individuals. One's "audience" impacts a person's activity. According to the Sysomos report, the average number of daily updates rises from three to six among users with more than 1,000 followers. However, that increase impacts a tiny percentage of Twitter users, with 0.68% reaching the thousand-follower mark.

Unsurprisingly, marketers on Twitter are more active. They are more likely to update than the average Twitter user, with 35% posting at least daily. Also, 15% of marketers follow more than 2,000 people.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kathy Ireland Sees Correlation Between Twitter and Sales

Personal branding guru Dan Schawbel recently wrote a Business Week article about leveraging social media for marketing purposes. Although the article focused on personal branding, Schwabel highlighted points that could be used for professional brands as well.

Some of his key points (revised for corporations) to leveraging social media are:
  • Create a goal-based strategy

  • Connect with passionate consumers who are interested

  • Consistently provide added value

Schawbel stresses that each interaction, such as a Facebook status update or a Tweet, is a marketing message. He uses the example of Kathy Ireland, the former model who currently has her own enterprise of clothing, jewelry, and home goods, and recently authored a book, "Real Solutions for Busy Moms." Ireland has profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, in addition to connecting with fans on Twitter.

Ireland has seen a correlation between her Twitter usage and sales. "Twitter has informed us of issues, unauthorized sales, media opportunities, and new exposure to people," she says. She also lauds the importance of participation in social media, and claims that absence makes a statement as well: "Even if you elect not to be involved in these media platforms, your absence is a statement and therefore a form of participation."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Women Use Social Media to Network Professionally

The results of a research study (sponsored by the social network ShesConnected) were posted in a recent eMarketer bulletin. Participants were recruited through various social networks, who were encouraged to pass it along to their friends. The survey results provided much-needed data about the habits and preferences of female social networkers.

59% of respondents log onto social networks multiple times a day, and an additional 14% log on daily. Facebook was the most frequently used social network, with 83% of respondents reporting they use it. Surprisingly, LinkedIn (73%) was nearly twice as popular as MySpace (41%) and 55% use Twitter. Another notable result was that professional networking was the most compelling reason these women visited social networks, overtaking staying in touch with friends. (71% vs 62%, found it "very important", respectively.) Researching products and services (45% "very important" and 34% "somewhat important") and finding deals and discounts (25% "very important" and 39% "somewhat important") were also high on the list.

The report also gathered data on privacy issues and revenue generation preferences. 93% of respondents rated privacy settings as “very important,” and another 6% said they were “somewhat important.” When asked about using sites that sell data to advertisers, 41% were "not comfortable" and 36% claimed they would not use the site. Interestingly, however, charging a subscription fee proved to be a greater barrier to entry- a full 49% of respondents claimed they would not use the site.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

AllyKatzz.com Organizes Tween Girl Summit

Allykatzz.com, the social network of tween girl research firm AK Tweens, is holding the National Tween Girl Summit on October 10, 2009 in Washington, D.C. It is free for girls 9-14; teen girls 15 and up can register to volunteer.

It would be easy to dismiss the Summit as a ploy to get valuable market research information from teen girls and shower them with goodies from sponsors. Indeed, the Summit is being sponsored by a variety of mega-brands, including Electric Arts, PBteen, Disney Book Group, Sephora USA, Inc., Popstar! Magazine, Fundex Games, Ltd., Daisy Rock Girl Guitars,
D’Addario Strings, and Chit Chat Beauty. Even the press release acknowledges that their motive is "giving tween girls a platform to share their thoughts and opinions on a range of subjects, and marketers, policy makers and parents a more thorough understanding of this enigmatic and highly influential demographic."

However, that's part of what makes the Summit so great. AK Tweens is forthcoming with their intentions, so participants (and their parents) are fully cognizant. They are also holding (sandwiched between Exhibit Hall trips and celebrity appearances) sessions that are relevant and informative to the tween demoraphic. Topics include "Get Empowered: Online and Off" and "Make Body Peace"- featuring Seventeen's Body Peace program advisor. Even Mrs. Obama has been invited.

Another point of interest is the use of social media. In one of the sessions, the girls will be filming a social activism video. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to upload photos and videos throughout the day. What will the teen volunteers be doing? According to the website, they will be registering girls, blogging, reporting, uploading photos and videos to AllyKatzz.com and Facebook, as well as assisting speakers, performers and press. And girls who cannot attend will be able to see updated information throughout the day on AllyKatzz.com.

The Summit's strategy is very cleverly thought out. Although not every company can afford celebrity guests and big name sponsors, everyone can find ways to make social media tools more accessible to their customers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Plus-Sized Retailer Lane Bryant Launches Community

Lane Bryant, one of biggest names in plus-sized fashion, recently launched an online community, the Inside Curve. The community offers simple but effective features such as profiles, photos, and groups. Members will also receive fashion tips and information on trends, as well as coupons, promotions, and exclusive savings.

Says Jay Dunn, Vice President of Marketing, "We're hoping to provide a forum for women who are interested in fashion, who happen to be size 14 and above. We want to give them a place to get closer to the brand -- inside the brand, so to speak."

Dunn's goal is to increase sales, as well as bring in new, younger customers. "There are a lot of consumers who may have dated perceptions about what the Lane Bryant brand stands for, and this is an opportunity to bring in not just a younger customer, but an Internet-savvy customer," he says. Dunn also believes that Inside Curve is part of "an evolving but important part of our marketing and customer-relationship management mix."

Check out the Inside Curve's intro video below:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More Women than Men Use Social Networks

A recent report from TNS and The Conference Board revealed that women are more social on and offline than their male counterparts. According to the survey, almost half (48%) of the female respondents visited social networking sites, compared with 37.6% of men. This is the second year in a row that approximately 10% more women than men reported visiting social networks. 43% of all respondents (US Internet users) visited social networking sites, up 16% from the year before.

Not only did the amount of users increase, but also the amount of time spent on social networks. The majority of respondents visited social networking sites at least once per day. Users were most likely to visit social networks in a family area at home, followed by in a private area at home, at work and by using mobile devices. The most popular social networking sites, as expected, were Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, respectively.

Monday, August 3, 2009

At Zankyou, Wedding Lists Go Straight to Your Bank Account

European wedding site Zankyou provides a variety of services for soon-to-be married couples and their guests. Zankyou enables couples to create private, personal wedding websites that not only keep guests informed about the ceremony but also solicit their input in a fun, non-obligitory way. The wedding pages go beyond providing ceremony information and directions-leaving room for nearby activities, recommended hotels, etc. They even programmed the site in five languages (English, Spanish, Italian, French and German) to make things easier for international guests.

Zankyou not only makes wedding websites more fun for guests, but also provides additional benefits to the bride and groom. Couples can use Zankyou to poll guests. They can also encourage guests to share photos, videos, and add songs to the wedding playlist. The site also offers wedding planning content in their "Zk Magazine" section, with suggestions for dress, themes, favors, and celebrity wedding gossip.

The best feature on Zankyou is the wedding list feature. On the site, couples can create wedding registry items not only for kitchenware and furniture, but also parts of their honeymoon, gifts to charity, etc. Zankyou does not purchase these items but puts the funds directly into the couples' bank account, allowing them to decide what they will ultimately use the money for. It allows users to get creative with their registry and provides couples with the freedom to decide what kind of presents they want. Zankyou is a great alternative for couples who may not necessarily want or need items from a department store, but feel awkward asking for checks or putting bank account information on their invitation.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Women are Catching Up to Men in Online Video Viewing

According to a recently released Pew Internet report, the audience for video-sharing websites is growing, and women are an increasingly large part of the trend. The amount of online video viewers, who use sites like YouTube and Google Video, has nearly doubled since 2006. 62% of adult internet users have used these sites, up from 33% in December 2006.

The adoption of online video continues to grow across all demographic groups, and women, although behind, are rapidly catching up. The percentage of online women who visit video sharing sites has grown substantially over this past year, from 46% in 2008 to 59% in 2009. However, that compares with 57% of male internet users in 2008 and 65% in the latest survey. And online men are still more likely to have watched a video on a video sharing site on a typical day- 23% as opposed 15% of women.

Video sharing sites are becomming so common that they are far outpacing the adoption rates of many other internet activities. Watching video on sites like YouTube is more popular than using social networks, downloading podcasts, or status updating with Twitter or other microblogging websites.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why Women Use Twitter (And With Whom They Interact)

Consumer Internet Barometer from TNS and The Conference Board recently surveyed adults in the US to answer the question: "Why tweet?"

According to their results, women use Twitter primarily for social purposes. 48.4% use the service to keep in touch with friends and 29.4% to update their status. Although men also listed keeping in touch with friends as their primary goal, they were more interested in using Twitter to find news 30.7% than updating their status.

Women are more likely to use Twitter to communicate with people they know. 73.6% of female respondents interact with friends and 36.4% with family (as opposed to 59.6% and 23.3% of men, respectively.) Men and women were reported as connecting with TV shows, co-workers, brands, and journalists almost equally. However, women were more likely to interact with celebrities while men were more likely to connect with bloggers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Martha Stewart Prefers Twitter over Facebook

Lifestyle and home entertaining guru Martha Stewart was quoted today on The Daily Beast as a Twitter fan. Stewart discusses at length her preference for Twitter over Facebook, as well as what she's seen as a better ROI for her company through Twitter.

“I just love it so much more than Facebook,” says Stewart. “First of all, you don’t have to spend any time on it, and, second of all, you reach a lot more people. And I don’t have to ‘befriend’ and do all that other dippy stuff that they do on Facebook.”

She elaborates: “I’m not knocking Facebook. We use both Facebook and Twitter [at MSO]. They’re very different tools, and I personally don’t use Facebook. I prefer Twitter as a means of mass communication—it’s the Wal-Mart of the Internet.”

The ROI for Stewart, given the time she spends on Twitter, is impressive. “With minimal effort—and I really mean it: I spend less than five minutes a day on Twitter—I have been able to garner over 1 million followers in a 4½-month period, with very few tweets, by the way,” Stewart told me. According to The Daily Beast's analysis of Tweets to followers, Stewart is twice as popular as Ashton Kutcher and three times as popular as Sean Combs. Although The Daily Beast was surprised by this relevation, I think this speaks well to both the appeal of the Martha Stewart brand and also the adoption of Twitter by the brand's audience.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Encouraging New Social Media Strategies

I read two interesting articles this week, one from Jason Falls' blog and the other from Harvard Business' Conversation Starter, both focusing on the need for more critical thinking and out of the box designing for social media strategies. Now that social media has moved out of the woodwork, companies (and marketers) are becoming increasingly more formulaic in the creation and implementation of social media campaigns. And although Facebook, Twitter, and blogs should be part of any good social media, they shouldn't be the whole strategy.

As David Armano points out in Conversation Starter: "The current state of "social media" for many businesses looks more like an episode of MacGyver than Apple's design process. Duct tape and bubble gum hold together fragile tactics such as Twitter accounts run by the summer college intern (nothing against college interns) or agency-generated Facebook fan pages that have few actual fans. This is not how any design process begins. It's not a purposeful or intentional act of originating and developing a plan for a product, structure, system, or component. It's a reactive fragmented approach that may achieve short-term results for marketing but usually ends up living in isolation (a social media department)."

Jason Falls created a list of suggestions to round out a social media campaign. The highlights, paraphrased, are:

* Make a point of developing ideas that don't involve Facebook, Twitter or blogs.
* Devleop five tactics to reach consumers on forums and message boards.
*Take 10 pictures (without captions) that visualize what you’re trying to communicate, and upload them to Flickr. Look at them every day.
* Write a news report about the success of your campaign, starting with the headline that you achieved your goal and write the success story in reverse chronological order, imagining the blueprint for your success.
*Ask yourself, “What would make the boring, old clerk at the corner store tell me about this?” Find a way to weave that in to your strategy.

These suggestions apply to any type of social media campaign, but they are particular useful when creating campaigns targeting women. Women are indundated with unoriginal, formulaic, and disingenuous social media tactics from marketers and advertisers. If we are to reach women through social media, we must think outside the box to create clever campaigns that both appeal to them and engage them. If not, we run the risk of being just another advertiser pushing a product to deaf ears.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

3 Questions with ShowMeYourWardrobe's Jackie Dixon

As part of my new interview series with top bloggers, I asked top fashion blogger Jackie Dixon of ShowMeYourWardrobe 3 questions. Below are her responses:

What was the original inspiration for your blog?
To put it simply: real style, and by that I mean how real people (and not models on a catwalk or a celebrity on the cover of a magazine dressed by someone else) put together a look. I am a stylist and have always admired how the people in my industry dress, whether it's a make-up artist that consistently looks immaculate or a photographer with an eclectic look. I love seeing how fashion influences people in reality and how each person incorporates a look or trend to suit them.

Why, in your eyes, do you think you've been so successful and have been able to reach such a broad audience?
I never think of myself - or my blog - as being "so successful". I am just really pleased if someone has seen it and even more happy if they like it as it's really fun to produce! Re the wide audience aspect I guess that's something to do with holding people's attention. It's interesting to see what the Creative Director of ELLE looks like and how she dresses, or a designer, illustrator etc. And because I always link the person's website you can check out their work too.

How do you see yourself, and other bloggers, fitting into the fashion world, now and in the future?
I think the beauty of blogs is that they are immediate, free, easy to set up and run and you're not censored or have to be biased in anyway. The blogs that review stuff can be completely honest and readers respect that. I think they proudly sit within the fashion world in a very prominent way. Marc Jacobs named a bag after BryanBoy, Tommy Ton (from Jak and Jill) just shot a Lane Crawford campaign and has teamed up with POP, Garance Dore just shot for Australian Vogue and Scott Schuman has shot for DKNY. Style Bubble is working with Dazed Digital, Rumi (Fashion Toast) is now with Next modelling agency...the list goes on! Blogs are ingratiating themselves within the fashion industry, even (British) Vogue just launched their very own blog!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Boys and Girls Almost Evenly Split in Online Usage

A recently released Nielson Online NetView report reveals that, among US children ages 2-11, Internet usage is practically equal. Since 2004, the breakdown of male versus female US Internet users has been almost evenly split. Over the past five years, time children spent on a PC also increased, by 63%. Boys have been spending more time on a computer than girls, but girls view more Webpages.

Similar activity can be seen with online video viewing. More girls than boys watch online video (5.2 million vs. 5.1, respectively.) However, boys account for the majority of streams and clock more viewing time than females.

The top online brand for girls is, unsurprisingly, Barbie.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Women 2.0 In Conversation: Inspiration from Successful Female Entrepreneurs

San Francisco based Women 2.0 is an organization committed to increasing the number of women entrepreneurs starting high growth ventures by providing the resources, network, and knowledge for the launch and growth of their company. In addition to sponsoring conferences and an annual business plan pitch competition, Women 2.0 offers an insightful "In Conversation" interview series with successful female entrepreneurs in the technology space.

In Conversation features video and MP3 interviews with many of Silicon Valley's biggest players, from Sandy Jen, a founder of Meebo, to Jennifer Pahlka, general manager of the Web 2.0 Expos and social media strategist Tara Hunt. Emily Goligoski, lead interviewer for the series, descibes In Conversation as a way to "fill the gap of solid professional advice offered by women in multimedia form by reaching out to executives and founders who have supported Women 2.0 or those whose work we admire. We're fortunate in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to have access to great tech resources, but we wanted to find a way to broadcast (even in a small way) words of wisdom from women who have been there--especially those who have launched and grown large growth ventures."

The women interviewed discuss their professional lives and lessons they've learned. Refreshingly, they also provide candid insights on their experiences as women in a male dominated industry. According to Goligoski, "Our interviewees are people we individually look to as professional role models and who have a unique set of skills, the most important being tenacity and a desire to help others succeed. We've found them across industries (B2B offerings, coffee roasters, and online video publications among them), but some of the things we've heard several times include 1) the importance of learning from perceived failures, 2) the value of mentorship, and 3) the absolute necessity of asking lots of questions abut each part of a business process or model."

Below is the In Conversation video with Elisa Camahort Page, a founder of BlogHer.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seventeen Beauty Smarties

Seventeen recently elicited the help of 10 teenage beauty experts. The girls, all in their teens or early twenties, post their makeup tips on YouTube. Seventeen enlisted the girls for their Beauty Smarties series, which featured step by step tips in their August issue, as well as how-to videos on Seventeen's website. Seventeen did a great job of selecting girls who not only have varied tastes but also different ethnic backgrounds, ensuring that all readers will have makeup tips that work for them.

"The great thing about real girl experts is that they’re not afraid to experiment — they’ll try trendy new looks and products without any ulterior motives, and when they give you beauty advice you know it’s coming from a real and authentic place. I also think the similarity in age and getting advice from someone who is going through similar experiences is always a plus-- our Beauty Smarties are still living our readers’ lives," said Yesenia Almonte, Beauty Director at Seventeen magazine.

Check out their photo shoot, below:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Interview with MyHeritage Marketing Director Mario Ruckh

I recently interviewed the MyHeritage Director of Marketing, Mario Ruckh. MyHeritage is a social network for families that, among other things, allows users to create family trees and connect with relatives in a private, personal way.

Can you provide a brief overview of the company?
MyHeritage was started in 2003 by Gilad Japhet. We initially started as a software program for building family trees. We still have it, it’s called Family Tree Builder and has been downloaded more than 4 million times by now. From there we expanded the family tree concept to the Internet. That way, I can take that tree and show it to my family, see what they think and see if they have anything to add to the family tree. That is how MyHeritage.com got started in November 2005. Since then the site has grown to a full social network innovating technologies like face recognition for you personal photo collection. By now we have more than 33 million registered users and 350 millions profiles, making us one of the leading family social networks.

How do you think the site became one of the largest family social networks on the Web?
The main success factor is the need of families to share photos and family information in a private network. Everybody has those cousins and uncles he would like to stay in touch with, but doesn’t find time to. Family social networking is a fun way to stay updated with the whole family bunch at once.We generally believe that family just is a different space and a different kind of relationship, as compared to business relationships and your friends. So you don’t necessary want to mix them up. Family relationships are more private; they are more limited, more precious. It's not something that everyone can access. It’s more control, more protected. You don't necessarily want to share all of your photos with your families.

Can you speak a little bit about the women using your site?
Well, it is as much as 70% of our US users which are women. They are one of the three big user groups on MyHeritage. They are often younger women who have kids or are about to have kids. We actually have three main user groups. One is core genealogists. They are older and above average male. And the third main group is what we call the young family networker. They are college students or young professionals studying or living far away from their family that don’t want to cut off family ties. They want to share photos with their family.

You have 23,000 new users a day. How have you been expanding your audience? What marketing initiatives are you using, or is it all viral growth?
We have a very viral product, where relatives invite relatives. You invite your uncle and he invites his wife, and so on... We also see a lot of traffic from natural search be it on family sharing or networking topics or on genealogy or family tree related topics. There is also our family software downloading. Additionally, we do post advertising, work with different events as well as bloggers and media people.

MyHeritage recently announced some new tools. Can you tell me a little bit more about them?
The first is mobile uploads. Everybody in your family gets his or her own email address, and whatever photo, video or document they send there, will be published to your family site. You can do that with any mobile device that is capable of emailing photos. It’s great as it helps to share family events as they happen.
We also launched the automatic photo tagger, which organizes your photo collection by people. It finds all the faces in your photos, groups those that are of the same person and lets you quickly tag them with a name from your family tree or a new name. After you identified all family members at least once you can turn on automatic tagging, so people in new photos will mostly be tagged automatically.
Lastly, the interactive slideshows provide several options for viewing your photos. We offer a presentation that pans over your still images and zooms into people's faces while fading from one image to another, or a photo stack that is kept in a nice Polaroid retro style. There is also Cover Flow, a very aesthetic way of flipping through your albums in a horizontal arrangement.

I noticed that all the new tools are related to photo sharing and uploading. Why did you focus mainly on the photos?
We've seen from our statistics that photos are a core part of what people want to share with their relatives. Moms want to share photos of their new kids, for example, or youngsters who move to a new city want to share their experiences. They are very important to what people want to share with their family, and MyHeritage is the ideal space where people can do that, as opposed to sending lots of pictures via email. We believe in an easy way to share photos with your relatives. On the site, you can upload several photos at a time or send them in an email. And it makes sense to be able share photos via mobile as well, so you can share family events as they happen. Instead of sharing them with everyone, you can share them with the people you actually care about.

Any examples of how the tools will impact your audience, especially women?
As mentioned when we talked about the audience, photos are becoming more important. With mobile devices capable of sending photos to the net instantly, they became part of our everyday life. We hope that families enjoy the new tools, that they will help them to bring their families closer together, and that they share their enthusiasm with friends.

Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks a lot for the interview and your blog in general. We really enjoy your female perspective on social media and your smart comments on women’s needs. Finally, we also have a blog about family social networking that also has all the news about MyHeritage as a company and that can be found here:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Modelinia: Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Tips from Models

After attending the Metropolitan Museum's Model as Muse exhibit, I decided to check out Modelinia for fashion and beauty advice to add some glamour to my look.

Modelinia is rich in video content from the sources themselves. The Beauty Secrets features first person interviews with makeup and skincare tips for every look, from punk rocker Agyness Deyn to girl next door Miranda Kerr. The Fashion section offers style advice for women on every budget; they showcase runway styles but also overall trends. There was even a Shopping Challenge that gave a model $60 and 10 minutes to put together an outfit. Modelinia also features behind-the-scenes footage, model blogs, slide shows, and access to the lesser known aspects of models' lives. The site provides fun interviews with models about their personal lives and charitable works.

As a marketer, I was particularly interested in the clever, unintrusive advertising. Although it's hard to tell if the product placement in the videos was sponsored, the beauty section certainly provided endless opportunities. The ample focus on Victoria's Secret models, many of whom were interviewed in Victoria's Secret stores, showcased an easy but subtle way to promote an advertiser without overdoing it. Even the pre-roll video ads from Maybeline were kept short.

Overall, Modelinia provides engaging content in a way that seems fresh. Given how unoriginal the initial idea was- using models to promote fashion and beauty trends- that is no small feat. Fashion magazines should take cues from Modelinia for their websites.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lesbians and Social Media

According to a recently released Harris Interactive study, lesbians use social networks with greater frequency than gay men or the heterosexual population (note: the study did not separate heterosexual men and women, only providing the combined results.) In a nationwide survey of 3000 US adults, 65% of self identified lesbians were members of Facebook, compared to 50% of gay men and 46% of heterosexuals. Over half (55%) of the gays and lesbians surveyed read blogs, as compared to 38% of heterosexuals. Also, 20% of gays and lesbians use Twitter, as compared to 12% of heterosexuals.

Despite their high level of involvement, there is room left for growth. Although more lesbians than gays are members of social networking sites, more gays (66%) than lesbians (60%) visit social networking sites at least weekly. And both gays and lesbians reported higher levels of dissatisfaction with the ads on social networks than heterosexuals.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

YoQueVos Gives "If I Were You" Advice

While in Argentina, I met with the founder of YoQueVos. YoQueVos (which translates to "If I were you") is an email newsletter in the Daily Candy style targeting young, educated women in the greater Buenos Aires area.

According to their media kit, receiving a YoQueVos update "is like receiving a tip, a piece of advice from a friend who is fun and spontaneous but also educated and aware of the latest trends: She knows about art galleries and this season's shoe trends. Practical and entertaining at the same time, our notes capture the interest and confidence of our readers, using the 'send to your friends' link to promote viral marketing.

And it works. Since their launch in late 2008, YoQueVos has averaged 100 new subcribers per day, amassing a list of over 8000 women in a matter of months. 87% of their subscribers fall into their target market of women between 20 and 35 years old. Clearly, their engaging and informative email updates have garnered the interest of Gen Y Porteñas. YoQueVos is planning to expand their reach with an website redesign and live events.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Cosmopolitan.com

The top woman's magazine Cosmopolitan pushed live their new website redesign today. Among the highlights are more articles, easier access to video content and games, and a greater focus on the community- message boards, user profiles, and Cosmo Confidential, an anonymous question and answer section. Check it out here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moms Use the Internet Beyond Parenting Advice

According to recently released eMarketer statistics, over 34 million US mothers go online at least once a month. That number is expected to reach 36.1 million by 2013. And although 45% of online moms use the Internet to shop for their children, they also go online to shop for themselves (44%), plan trips (39%), and research products (49%), among other activities.

“Moms visit parenting and family Websites, but they also regularly view news, weather and political content online,” says eMarketer senior analyst, Debra Aho Williamson. “They shop for their kids—and themselves, and when they find something great for their family, they talk about it, not only with their family and friends, but often with a much broader online audience.”

In the joint Cafe Mom/Razorfish "Digital Mom" report released last February, the mothers surveyed were most likely to have shopped online for clothing and accessories (40%) or food and cooking items (31%). Parenting and baby gear only accounted for 26% of moms' online purchases.

Says Williamson: “Moms constantly seek and share advice, and they are routinely doing so online. Often they simply reach out to family and friends but as more of them use social media such as consumer review sites and blogs, an increasing amount of the information comes from strangers.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

StyleFeeder: Personal Shopping Engine

StyleFeeder offers personalized shopping recommendations to over 1.5 million users each month. The site was created for fashion-conscious shoppers interested in hearing about new products. StyleFeeder connects users to emerging trends, not only in the clothing and accessories categories, but also electronics, books, music, even sports and pets. According to InStyle Magazine, “If you just bought the perfect party dress and now need a clutch to match, go to StyleFeeder.com where you can get advice from like-minded buyers.”

The registration process for StyleFeeder is similar to other social shopping sites who offer personalized recommendations. Users sign up, then rate a variety of products on a 5 star scale. Afterwards, users receive a "Style Feed" of suggested items. The Style Feed can be turned into a widget, added to users' Facebook profiles, or simply shared with friends. My StyleFeed included items as disparate as pink, fake fur-lined head phones, Mediterranean patterned bath tiles, and gray sandals with ruffles, all of which I would consider buying. In addition to the Style Feed, users are also matched with "Style Twins" to enhance the product search and discovery process.

StyleFeeder has been lauded for their unique collaborative filtering technology. "The software creates a giant matrix or spreadsheet of items and their relationships. Then it looks for patterns among those who rate items similarly. The basic idea is that if two people like product X and one of them also likes product Y, then they probably both like product Y,” says Women's Wear Daily.

With over 5 million monthly pageviews, a weekly newsletter, and a popular Facebook application, StyeFeeder has successfully carved out a niche in the crowded social shopping space.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Social Media vs. Blogging

eMarketer released results today from their 2009 Social Media Study, which found that "women are turning to all sorts of social media for fun, entertainment, community and connection." According to the study, 75% of women participated in social networking and 55% used (read, posted to, or published) blogs.

The 55% of blog users attributed to nearly 23 million women who read blogs, 12 million who posted to blogs, and 8 million who published their own blogs. “Bloggers represent a highly engaged and influential segment of social media users for brand marketers looking to connect to consumers online,” said Susan Wright, president of Compass Partners.

And the motivations for using for social media and blogs vary. Women who used blogs were more than twice as likely to seek information, advice and recommendations than women who participated in social networking. When providing advice or contributing to a community, more women also turned to blogs than social networks. According to Elisa Camahort Page, COO of BlogHer,“Blogs remain the go-to resource for those who want to gather information, share ideas and get reliable advice.”

Monday, June 1, 2009

Girl Ambition Promotes Tweens' Self Esteem Online

Girl Ambition is the latest in a slew of virtual worlds targeting tween girls. But unlike Est. Today or Disney´s Pixie Hollow, Girl Ambition aims to do more than just entertain tweens. It offers a safe, parent-monitored community that teaches girls Internet safety and promotes self-esteem, philanthropy, and creativity.

Girl Ambition packs a variety of activities for its users. Like their competitors, the site offers games, IM, shopping, and caring for virtual pets. Girl Ambition also provides entertaining, age-appropriate content. They have a magazine and video content, as well as quizzes and craft ideas. Girls are encouraged to submit their own videos and craft ideas, and the sites seamlessly weaves in self-esteem building activities (such as creating a list of people they can depend on) with tips for creating homemade flower cards.

Additionally, there is a robust section for parents (both moms and dads.) The Parents´section offers information on cyber-safety, Internet bullying, self-esteem building activities, and hot tween topics. Parents also have extensive control of their daughters' use of the site, including their buddy list and emails. The site was started by three working moms, so the information for parents is on-target with the questions that many parents of tweens are asking.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mommy Bloggers Mentioned in "New Blog Trends" Interview

In a recent interview about new trends in the blogosphere, the General Manager of Six Apart Media, David Tokheim, discussed the rise of mommy bloggers:

Mr. Tokheim: We’re seeing a lot more women blogging, a lot of mommy bloggers. They have a different dynamic than what we’ve seen from tech bloggers in that most of the moms have multiple blogs. They work with different networks like BlogHer, as well as Six Apart Media. And there’s a very strong community around what they’re doing.

eMarketer: What do you think is driving the spike in mommy blogging?

Mr. Tokheim: Two things: I think it’s awareness, or word-of-mouth, and blogging platforms have become easier to use.

For the full interview transcript, check out the eMarketer article here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bravo Creates Social Media Success with Virtual Viewing Party

Bravo hosted the "Ultimate Virtual Viewing Party" last week for the season finale of the Real Housewives of New York. The "party" was in essence a social media blitz combining Twitter, Facebook, and mobile chat. Social media blog Mashable posted the results yesterday, confirming Bravo's efforts were a success.

Some of the highlights:

1. 2,089 total tweets mentioning “bravotv” on May 5th, and 2,906 total tweets from the 4th - 6th

2. BravoTV increased their follower count 121.18% (from 3,111 to 6,641) during the course of the campaign

3. The percentage of news stories mentioning “bravotv” jumped 15% during the period, with coverage now up 55%

4. BravoTV.com page views for the finale exceeded 1 million and were 159% higher than normal, with 47% more video streams than the previous episode

5. The Real Housewives of New York site accounted for 66% of all BravoTV.com traffic on finale day

6. 40% of viewers participated via Sign in with Twitter

The statistics reveal, how, if done correctly, a social media campaign can not only generate buzz on sites like Twitter, but also bring the traffic back full circle to the content provider's website. I look forward to seeing what Bravo will do next.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Argentinian Women Shop Online to Facilitate Daily Life

I am on vacation in Argentina and have been exploring how women here are using the Internet. As can be found everywhere, Facebook is popular, iPhones can be seen on the streets of Buenos Aires, and, according to an article in yesterday´s Clarín newspaper, Argentinian women are utilizing ecommerce.

According to the Argentine Chamber of Electronic Business (CACE), approximately 49% of ecommerce shoppers are women. Female online shoppers have been frequenting sites that have made daily routines easier. Women commonly use the Internet to purchase supermarket items; many of the major supermarkets have online shopping cart systems with direct home delivery.

According to the Clarín article, the profile of the typical female ecommerce shopper has shifted in the past year. A year ago, the average online shopper in Argentina was an affluent Internet veteran with typically four years Web usage. But this has changed, explains Marcos Pueyrredón, a member of the CACE. He adds: "The most important change is that women are beginning to weigh in on online consumption and are incorporating it as a shopping channel."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who's Got Game? Apparently, Women

Recent Nielsen Games data released by eMarketer shows reveals that women are catching up to men in both the PC and console gaming arenas.

According to the report, the largest percentage of any group were women ages 25 to 54, who comprise 29% of all PC game players. Women ages 55 and up were 17% of the market, who spent the second-highest number of minutes playing. They were also the third-largest group, behind men 25 to 54. And although many of the top 10 PC games played by women come prepackaged with their computers, online and downloadable games (such as World of Warcraft and PictureKa! Museum Mayhem) made up about half the list.

Women can also increasingly be found playing console games, including the Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation 3. Women ages 25 and older tended to be more faithful to their consoles than men of the same age.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Post: Top Green Sites for Women

In honor of Earth Day, below are some great green sites for women:
  • Feelgood Style is a fashion and beauty blog focusing on sustainable and eco-friendly products. The site provides deals, tips, and information about upscale fashion and beauty products.
  • Eco-Office Gals has green tips, news, product reviews and giveaways to promoting green living, both at home and in the workplace.
  • Care2 offers green recipes, natural hair tips, and a conscious consumer section with giveaways for organic kids' clothes and animal-friendly handbags. They even have eco-horoscopes, dubbed "greenoscopes."
  • Ecorazzi is the Perez Hilton of green gossip. Want to know which American Idol star is donating a portion of her new song's sales to the Humane Society? Or get the dish on Oprah's Earth Day show? Ecorazzi spills it all.
  • Dirty Diaper Laundry calls itself a blog for "green, hip, forward thinking mamas." Started by a 24 year old new mom, the site offers information about green baby products, bargains, and giveaways.
  • Crafting a Green World offers DIY projects that incorporate reused, recycled, and natural materials. The site features knitting, sewing, crocheting, and other project ideas for eco-friendly and fashionable clothes, crafts, and gifts.
And, while not specifically targeted towards women, these websites are great resources for green consumers of both sexes: