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What Women Want from Social Sites

Networking tools and privacy

August 17, 2009 | Demographics | Social Media

Women who are core social network users expect a lot, according to “The Power of Social Networking For Women Research Study” from female-oriented social networking site ShesConnected. Participants in the survey were recruited through several social networks and were encouraged to share it with friends.

ShesConnected respondents were heavy users of social networks: 59% reported visiting such sites multiple times per day, with a further 14% logging on daily.

Frequency with Which US Female Social Network Users Visit Social Networks, April-May 2009 (% of respondents)

Unsurprisingly, Facebook was the most popular social network among these users, with 83% belonging to the site. Nearly three-quarters (73%) were members of LinkedIn and 55% were on Twitter, while just 41% belonged to MySpace. Almost one-half of respondents (48%) reported belonging to four or more social networks—the most common response.

Professional networking and staying up-to-date with friends were the most compelling reasons to visit social networks, according to the respondents. Substantial majorities also considered researching products and services (79%) and finding deals and discounts (64%) important.

Reasons US Women Visit Social Networks, April-May 2009 (% of respondents)

Despite their enthusiasm for joining, female social network users are concerned about privacy issues. Fully 93% of respondents said control over privacy settings was “very important,” and another 6% rated it “somewhat important.” The ability to block specific users from contacting them, presumably also for privacy reasons, mattered to 96% of users.

These concerns spill over into the marketing side of social media. While the vast majority of respondents were fine with social networks displaying advertising, the prospect of the sites selling data to advertisers was another story. More than four in 10 respondents said they would not be comfortable with the idea, and nearly as many—36%—said they would refuse to use a site that sold their data.

Methods of Social Network Revenue Generation with Which US Female Social Network Users Are Comfortable, April-May 2009 (% of respondents)

“Advertisers should strive for engaging and useful communications on the site so that it is viewed as an enhancement to the community rather than a painful requirement,” noted the ShesConnected report.

While users understand the need for revenues, networking, self-promotion, keeping in touch and privacy remain their top priority.

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