The study, “The Power of Social Networking for Women,” asked women in the US and Canada how they are using social networks and found that 53% of online women use social networks at least weekly, and that social-networking women – most of whom are highly engaged and comfortable with technology – are one of the fastest growing segments on social networking sites.
However, though social networking continues to grow in popularity and presents an increasing array of benefits, the research also found that women place paramount importance on protecting their privacy online. More than nine in 10 women say controlling their privacy settings on social networks is “very important,” and only slightly fewer (86%) say that blocking other users is of utmost importance. This compares with 72% of online women who say that posting comments is very important and 71% who say it’s very important to be able to invite a friend.
Ad Supported Models Most Favored
Women are also most comfortable with ad-supported revenue models for social networking sites, the survey found. While 92% have some degree of comfort with seeing ads on social networking sites, only 22% say the same about selling data to advertisers and 28% have comfort with a subscription-based model. Nearly half (49%) say they would not use a social networking site if It charged them a subscription fee.
Reasons for Belonging
Though it is not big news that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most popular social networks for women, ShesConnected was surprised by the fact that a large number of women are using such sites to network, market and otherwise promote their businesses.
Top sites joined:
The top five reasons women belong to social networks:
- To network professionally
- To stay up-to-date with friends
- To stay up-to-date with groups they belong to
- To promote their business.
- To research products or services
Most Popular Activities
The study also found that a growing number of women are viewing video and reading blogs. According to the study, the most popular social networking activities for women:
- Viewing video
- Reading blogs
- Posting photos
- Writing in blogs
- Posting comments
Additional survey findings about social-networking women:
- More than two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents belong to three social networks, while 48% belong to four or more.
- The adoption of social networks by older women is especially strong. Women ages 50+ comprised the largest age group in the core user survey.
- Women using social networks are highly educated, with 23% of respondents having a masters, PhD, or other advanced degree (vs. 8% nationally).
- More than one-third report they are in business for themselves.
- Respondents spend a significant amount of time online each day, with 49% reporting they spend 1 – 2 hours per day for personal use and 48% reporting they spend five or more hours per day online for work.
- 83% of respondents have 50 or more connections or friends.
- 56% have started at least one group and have joined an average of two to five groups. Nearly one in three (29%) belong to 10 or more groups.
ShesConnected notes that these study findings have potentially profound implications for advertisers. “Women using Social Networks are finding such high utility in these sites that they are becoming a central component of their lives online,” the firm said in a press release, adding that “marketers need to focus on how best to provide value to the community.”
About the study: The study was conducted online using a viral approach to recruitment, including email invitations to ShesConnected registered members, links on Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and Twitter. There were 711 respondents to the study, which took place in April and May of 2009. No incentive was offered. Additional data from the US Census Bureau, Forrester Research and other published third-party studies was used to compile the final report.