Women remain (arguably) our most influential consumers – especially in the healthcare space. Not only do women make up a significant portion of consumers overall, they are also a driving force and key influencer behind many of the purchases men make. When it comes to healthcare, this is no exception (and if the men are anything like me it may even be more of the rule). As a result, marketers spend a lot of time studying how women make these buying decisions, and social media channels are providing an avenue women actively use to make these decisions.
Given that I’m a guy, I couldn’t presume I knew anything about women1 so I turned to a recent study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners examining women’s media habits. What I found is that in the healthcare arena, blogs are an avenue that should not be ignored. They are an influential source to women, crucial to observe for feedback and provide an understanding about products/therapeutic areas, even if they are not appropriate avenues to use to actively engage women.
According to BlogHer, the number of women who regularly read or write blogs is staggering. Of all women surveyed, 22.7 million (55%) said they read them, with 12 million (29%) engaging on them (posting/commenting), and 8 Million (19%) creating content by publishing their own blogs. And health/wellness places within their top five interests.
According to the study, 49% of women who read blogs – approximately 11 million women – are interested in health information. In fact, it ranked higher than some surprising topics (to me), including fashion/beauty/shopping (42%), sex/relationships/dating (31%), and parenting (27%). This makes it a great place to provide content about health and see what women are saying.
Women in the survey noted they aren’t just reading passively – they are turning to blogs over social networks (such as Facebook and MySpace) to actively digest. Of women who read and/or post to blogs, 64% do it to “get information”, compared to just 32% of those who participate in social networks. When you factor in that 43% of women read blogs to “seek advice and recommendations” it becomes clear that they aren’t seeking that information as impartial news sources — they want information with a point of view. This means that if women are on a blog for information about a product or condition – or your product/condition area – they don’t want a balanced account – they want to know about an experience with the product to help them develop their own point of view. This means making sure that influential bloggers not only know about your product (or campaign) but that they receive your point of view and have a positive experience along the way.
Lastly, what I found interesting was that women of all ages, across generations, are participating on blogs. While Millenials (age 18-26) have the highest percentage of their generation participating (73% – 9.7 million women) Generation X (age 27-43) and the Boomers (age 44-62) combined form the greatest number of women participating in social media – approximately 28.7 million women. Meaning blogs remain an importance influence for women of all ages. It isn’t just for the younger audiences.
So, if you want to know more about what influences women to make a particular healthcare decision, turn to the blogosphere – the answers may be clear on blogs.