Politicians who want to win the women's vote should take a lesson from consumer marketing. In that arena, women use blogs, social media platforms and web site comment spaces to influence each other’s purchasing decisions. They will use the same communication tools to affect the 2012 presidential election.
Women have a lot at stake in this election. They have skin in the game on everything from social issues to the economy. And with 66% of women on voter registration rolls according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, they stand poised to make their mark in the voting booth come November.
The last time provocative discussions about the women’s vote gained such traction was during the 1996 presidential contest between incumbent Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole when the phrase “Soccer Mom” became part of our lexicon.
Moms have definite opinions on what we need to ensure our families grow and thrive, but until recently, we had no way of making our voices heard amidst the steady drumbeat of national advertisements, celebrity endorsements, and marketplace messages. While moms may not have a multimillion dollar advertising budget, we have enormous power in social media.
Moms have embraced social media, including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, in dramatic fashion. Our Mom Central research studies show that 3 out of 5 moms blog, and 9 out of 10 moms list Facebook as their go-to social media destination. And while moms may have initially learned about social media to monitor on our kids’ internet use, we quickly found that blogs and other social media platforms allowed us to make connections with other moms.
By tapping into the Internet’s sites and forums geared toward a host of specific interest areas, moms make online connections. We turn to this network when we need advice and counsel. When we can’t decide which new stroller or laptop to buy, 65% of us poll our mom friends for their first-person experience and insights – instead of factoring into our decision what the latest celebrity thinks. And 90% of us trust products more after hearing about them from friends.
Our trust of online recommendations from other women empowers us to speak our minds about what matters to us, and seek opinions from fellow moms. We share our perspective on our blogs; on our Facebook or Pinterest pages; and through our tweets to our network of followers. We couple this insight with online reviews, which provide us the in-depth information we need to expand our consumer footprint into areas not previously frequented by moms on a regular basis – including cars, sports, and technology.
At the same time, social media provides women with a way to convey our views to brand marketers. No longer do women rely on sending a letter or email to a company to share our warmth or wrath regarding a new product. Today, moms actively engage with brands via social media; a majority of us follow 10 or more brands on Facebook or Twitter. We want brands to engage with us, but we expect them to come to us, build relationships with us, and not just drive us to their websites.
Marketers, too, see the upside in this shift. With regular interaction, moms feel more informed about a company and its promotions, more connected to a brand, and more inclined to recommend the brand to a friend.
Social media also helps marketers see moms as a group of individuals with our own viewpoints, interests, passions, and voices – rather than simply as a convenient demographic, as the Soccer Moms were. No one knows what the November election will bring, but we do know this: Women will be at the polling place, in the blogosphere, throughout social media platforms, and on the airwaves. Politicians need to create an open, ongoing dialogue to earn the women's vote.
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