Watching this TED clip recently from a speech delivered by media researcher Johanna Blakley reminded me of two important lessons for marketers:

  • Visiting social networking sites is the number one activity on the web and women outnumber men on almost all significant social media networks.  To reach women you need to be engaging with them through social media.
  • In today’s social world, demographics are meaningless.  We need to dismantle stereotypes about gender and focus on “taste monitoring”.  Knowing what brands people like, where they go and what they do tells you far more than knowing their age.

Yet, even though Blakely’s speech was from 2010, there are many companies today making predictions and developing strategies based on traditional demographics like age.  Sure, it’s easy to use age, income and geography to put people in buckets – but in today’s social world it’s not how it works.  I’d bet that any agency still relying on traditional demographics is just too lazy or out of touch with how to reach today’s consumer.

[ted id=1066 width=640 height=360]

Does this mean that words and stereotypes we use like “baby boomers”, “millennials” and “Generation X” are out the door?  According to this, I’d say yes.  We have to get far smarter about reaching consumers and be careful about making assumptions based on age.

For those of you in the travel industry, you know that travel today is a mindset.  Many years ago age would be an easy clue into what kind of traveler someone might be.  Today this couldn’t be further from the truth.  How active someone is, their outlook on life, how they think and which brands they like, can give you a big clue into the type of traveler they are.  It’s the same with wine, sure the younger age group is buying cheaper wines, but then they are also buying the more expensive wines, they are more educated about wine than their parents were at the same age.  We can no longer rely on traditional stereotypes like age to draw assumptions.

For those brands looking to reach the female audience social media should be your number one priority.  In August 2012, the Forbes article: Women are from Pinterest, Men are from Google+ discussed the female skew in social media.  Pinterest takes the top spot by ranking the highest with females, with a staggering 72-97% female skew.  Facebook also reports a female skew (58%) but an even greater divide between time spent with women engaging more, uploading photos, frequent status updates etc.  Twitter is consistent with less of a female skew (52%).

What does this tell us? Understand your audience at a deeper level than just basic demographics.  Stop making assumptions based on traditional demographics and start to look deeper.  Create “taste” profiles of your audience based on what you know they like and respond to, then find ways to engage with them.

Infographic from Forbes, August 2012