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 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.