Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Women and Social Media – Playing to our Strengths

Marketers are always looking to influence women. While we (still rather appallingly) don’t earn equally to men, in many ways our spending power is greater. Why? Because we often have more influence than our spouses/boyfriends in what is purchased. Women have high influence on the purchase of groceries, home goods and furnishings, and clothing. In families, women’s choices influence children’s toys, entertainment and the petty cash expenditures that make up teen entertainment, allowances and tooth fairy money. We carry brand loyalty, we search for deals, our gender’s proclivities practically program us to be social. Combine that with shopping and you have a marketing home run. 

We are the Social Gender
Because women are by and large expert natural communicators companies have been constantly looking to engage us across multiple platforms and sectors both locally and globally. Rather than selling us something we might not need, but find attractive, now we are approached via social media to not only share our opinion but to sometimes beta-test or even evangelize for products and services before a single sale takes place.

The Good Gossip
Take for example a traditionally female market – baby products. Every new mother is looking for the best products that bring CPQ - Convenience, Price and Quality. If they have a cachet to them as well, so much the better. Who will these new moms listen to? The “Varsity” mothers, those with older children who can share their wisdom from a “been there, tried that” perspective. An entire cadre of “mommy bloggers”, our own version of 21st century “god-sibbs”, is out there sharing their opinions in real-time and building brand authority for any number of products. These days with social media, it’s not 4 out of 5 doctors recommending, it’s 4 out of 5 of the women in your child’s neighborhood preschool, at your job, on Facebook, in the pew and 6 timezones and perhaps a cultural divide away.

Leading Ladies
Because women are so driven to build relationships, we have a breadth and depth of opportunity to become social media leaders and sisters to one another. Advice driven sites on where to find the best bargains, deals, and coupons continue to grow. The addition of “gaming” techniques to deepen the engagement expands and amplifies our participation.  We have a gender-based advantage in communication and relationship understanding that can be used to effect change and create innovation by aggregating user value and harnessing the power of collective intelligence.

All Access Pass
For women who are trying to start their own businesses, the numerous free tools offered by social media are a huge boon for marketing and promotion. Social media done right is an all access backstage pass – you can build a stream to venture capital, industry experts and key players who can help along the way. Just a few years ago, this would have been much more difficult to gain without an MBA and/or a well-connected friend. A marketing campaign of Facebook, Twitter and a blog about your business costs nothing but your time. Social media enhances our relationships to one another, broadens our spheres of influence and levels the playing field. Women who aren’t using social media successfully are missing out on flexing our social muscle.

Share your thoughts. Are women better at social media than men? Are we truly playing to our strengths? Does gender have any bearing on social media success?

Feel the link love: Images courtesy of Virology, Perfectlyspaced.com, Zazzle.com and the University of South Florida

Monday, March 21, 2011

Follower of Fashion

I'm not particularly known as a Fashion Plate, though I do appreciate nice clothes. I have just had a wardrobe consultation with the amazing Anne Devlin and she has inspired me to look closer at clothing.

This is also exercise for my newly liberated hand...Lefty has been a bit constrained lately. Typing was suggested by my doctor as a good "work out". Snowboarding, not so much. :-(

I've seen a lot of neat fashion ideas recently and thought I would share some of them.

Wear the Shift
This is a site that was crowd-sourced on Kickstarter. Cute, A-line shift dresses that are custom made for you in vintage fabric. They run your measurements in a fancy algorithm and out comes bespoke awesomeness! I can't wait to wear mine and I promise will model it here (yes really).

QR Code wear
Check it out - you can put a QR code on clothing. Maybe this is too Geekchic for some people but I thought it would be a fun idea for All the Single Ladies to put your Match.com profile page as a QR code on a t-shirt. And clearly great minds think alike because they had that idea at Zazzle.

This company has decided to follow me on Twitter (thanks ya'll) and because they did, I'm going to give them a shout out, www.L-R-G.com I am more M-E-D but it looks like fun clothes for guys who like surfing waves and snow. Right on.

Kika Paprika
I just bought some clothing from Kika Paprika to boost my fashion quotient. I wanted to achieve an updated look for "casual business" and break out of my "uniform" - those items that I repeatedly went to because they were comfortable, but somewhat outdated. This clothing is VERY comfortable! I couldn't get over how soft the fabric was, seriously, most of the pieces I tried on I could imagine sleeping in they were so soft. The fabrics are pre-shrunk, organic cotton and colored with organic dyes. The clothing is made locally in Los Angeles. How can you go wrong in clothes that look great, support a sustainable business model and that you can shop for without going to the mall?

Images from WeartheShift, Zazzle, LRG and Kika Paprika. Feel the love!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Give Lefty a Hand

A few weeks ago, I broke my left hand. The 4th metacarpal bone to be exact. I am (thankfully) right-handed, but my buddy Lefty does quite a lot to help move things along.

A few hours after. All my fingers are extended in this photo, except the broken one.

Metacarpal fractures are common injuries that account for 30-40% of all hand fractures. They most often involve the 5th (pinky finger) and/or the 4th metacarpal (ring finger) and are also known as boxer’s or bar-room fractures.

This is from the next morning. It does look like I got into quite the kerfuffle doesn't it?

Typing, Holding things, Many household chores, Bathing, Dressing, Cooking, these are all things that are slightly more challenging to do without Lefty.

How did it happen? Dog walking. The short of it is that I was not present in that moment. I had a gazillion little distractions. I was monkey-minding (something we all fall into from time to time). With a little help from Dingo the dog.

I’m fortunate in that the things I am presently committed to – work, meetings, etc. I have been able to either walk to, get a ride to or Skype myself in to. At work, my intern very kindly offers to take dictation. My clients are often surprised, “Oh no! What happened??” Sometimes I like to say, “Well, I was wrestling a wolverine…” or perhaps more believably, “I caught an edge snowboarding...”

Unfortunately they didn't offer a Carolina Blue cast...

Not surprisingly, I’ve really increased my speed and accuracy in one-handed typing. I’ve revamped my meal plans for items that are soups, casseroles and stews; recipes that can be made with pre-chopped vegetables, meat and a lot of stirring. We have feasted on paella and enjoyed a chocolate pavlova dessert. The Crock Pot is seeing more action. The stand mixer and food processor have never been busier.

Soon the cast will come off, but the lesson has been learned. Dingo reminds me, in her goofy, awkward, “ding a ling” way, that I must be present and patient in all of life’s moments. Even the seemingly mundane ones such as dog walking. I have said before, that dogs are our bodhisattvas in fur and this was revealed to me again in an eye opening (and bone breaking) moment.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some thoughts on the Knowledge Economy

In 1969 Peter Drucker popularized the phrase knowledge economy. The idea of a knowledge economy is that knowledge is viewed as a product versus knowledge as a tool. The knowledge economy is based on the economics of abundance. I touch on this in Open Source: The End of Scarcity Means More. Information and knowledge increase through the act of sharing. The more data/information shared, the more growth in knowledge results. Knowledge flows as water, it drips then becomes a steady stream or torrent where ever there is demand and few barriers. In the knowledge economy, wealth is based on ownership of knowledge and information.

Forty-two years later Drucker’s children are the knowledge workers – the Gen X and Yers, the Millennials and Digital Natives are established or entering the workplace. As suggested in my post, What If Work Were Fun?, the worker of the 21st century is becoming a knowledge worker. Schooled in new media, the brightest of them are capable of both convergent and divergent thinking, they can be collaborative, evaluate priorities, make connections, establish and nurture relationships, and be flexible enough to both create new paradigms as well as modify existing ones.

Social media has risen in importance and currently drives the knowledge economy because communication is a fundamental component to the stream of knowledge and information. Social media highlights the importance of relational capital – one based on interactions and relationships. The act of transforming information into knowledge is the creation of value.

Just a few years ago we did business differently. The rule was - I offered a product/commodity for sale, you bought it (or not), end of transaction. It was an even exchange, a closed system. But the knowledge economy has changed that. The open sourced, new way of doing business also values expertise and the concept of “know how”. Meshing social with business creates an emotional bond. It’s about more than just selling, these relationships foster an interactive and cooperative exchange.

The old way of doing business doesn’t work effectively anymore because more social effort needs to be invested to get people to listen. Business must engage and be present vis a vis their customers who now demand openness, flexibility and a willingness to embrace change.

I have an actor friend who used to believe that once he landed an agent, he could just sit back and the jobs would come rolling in. He believed that an agent would do the heavy lifting for him, bring him work so he wouldn’t have to hustle. This didn’t happen, so he fired the agent. But once my friend realized that he was his own best representative - his career started to take off because he was creating value for himself. He was giving to get. Now he’s got several agents chasing him.

“What you give is what you get.”

I used to talk about this concept a lot when I was a fundraising executive. We rallied our board members around the Give/Get principle because we expected them to create value for the institution.

It’s not really that different in business. By giving value for the people around you, you will get value in return. Value creates thought leadership, someone who people want to know and do business with. People want to give business to those who give them business. This is not a new idea, but it’s one worth being mindful of because emphasizes reciprocity, an exchange which creates a relationship.

I try to create value everyday because I appreciate the community I inhabit. For me, it makes for a full and fulfilled work life. Who doesn’t want that?

Photos from: Wikipedia, Teamsubmarine & Mr. Cheapstuff

At the intersection of art and new media, a place where the convergence emerges.