It isn’t exactly news that women are the more social gender. Sure, men like to get together, with and without women, to talk about their favorite subjects, of which car talk is usually a popular one. But women are naturally more social, and now it is proving to be true in the one place where social interaction is getting a lot of attention from dealers – the Internet.
It wasn’t long ago, 2005 to be precise, when the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that women trailed men in their use of the Internet. Since then, social networking has become one of the most popular uses for the web. And women now dominate social networking on the web. A more recent 2011 Pew study indicated that in all social media sites, with the exception of LinkedIn, women constitute the majority of users by a wide margin. 58% of Facebook users are women, versus 42% men, and on Twitter it is nearly 2:1 (64% vs. 36%).
Aside from being confirmation of my many exhortations that women are more focused on relationships, there is valuable information here for dealers as they focus more and more attention on social media for marketing. If you aren’t visualizing that most of the visitors to your Facebook page are women, and tailoring your content and messages to accommodate them, then you are not getting the most from your efforts.
Women dominate social networks because they want to enjoy, encourage, facilitate, nurture and cultivate their relationships much more than men do. And because they are critical decision makers for their own and their families’ purchases, it will pay off to bend in their direction.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t celebrate the pleasures of automotive excellence and performance. It should be mixed with content that celebrates the personal side of the car buying and owning experience.
Women rationalize car ownership differently than men do, much as women rationalize shoe ownership differently than men. Women endow cars with more personal considerations. When she considers a vehicle, she will invariably envision how it fits her personal relationships, such as her friends and family. Will there be a place for the car seat when I find the right man to start a family? Will my parents be comfortable in the back seat? Is there a place for my purse? (Okay, the last one is more of a personal peeve of mine.)
A man will also consider his personal needs when making a car purchase, but more often than for a woman, the sound of the exhaust can be a personal need. Car makers spend lots of money on those sounds for a reason.
So take a look at your website and your social media profiles and consider whether you need to rebalance your content. I suggest talking more about your people and what they are doing both in the dealership and in their own lives, playing up your community activities, and inviting your “friends” to stop in to learn about new models and technologies. Be sociable.
Also, take a look at the images you use on your web site, your Facebook pages, and in your print advertising. Put images of women, couples and families in prominent places. And consider how you can also take advantage of other big elements of women’s internet activity: sales, discounts, coupons and games (yes, games).
The Internet is an ever-changing landscape that will undoubtedly continue to evolve, but I don’t think we’ll ever see the end of social media sites. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of the web and adapt to its changing reality so you don’t lose out on opportunities to excel.