Many 2011 Predictions Focus on Female Perspective and Influence

As you might imagine, I spend a great deal of time reading and keeping up with both franchising and social media. Over the past week I’ve seen many predictions for 2011. Some are surprising. Many were anticipated. However, the predictions I’ve seen time after time, across various channels and platforms, both in social media AND franchising, cearly include women in the equation. If the comments haven’t been directly about women, they’ve been about things women heavily influence such as being consumers and bloggers, and of course, developing relationships via social media. Here’s two of the predictions that have been typical in much of what I’ve recently read:

Women Power

The recent report put out by Intuit shows that over the next decade, women around the world will enter the workforce at an unprecedented rate. Close to 1 billion women, who had not previously participated in the mainstream global economy will do so by 2020.

The fastest growing demographic of Facebook user is currently 55 year old plus women. We are creating a She-conomy. Plus women are naturally more social so it makes sense that we are adapting well to the social media sites.

Prediction: Women will overcome the legal or traditional barriers that prevented them from participating in some regions by using virtual, mobile and Internet technologies to run businesses without having to be physically present. Businesses will recognize this and start creating customized products and services online to cater to them.

Consumers Shape the Online Marketplace

Thanks to the number of amazing tools and services we have out our disposal these days it’s starting to transform the communities we build and the relationships we make online and offline.

Recent results have shown that nontraditional influencers, such as bloggers and social network contacts are the key people we turn to before making a purchasing decision. It makes sense really, you generally buy on recommendations from friends. Now you have these social networks where you’re exposed to your friend’s friends’ too and their influence will continue to expand.

Prediction: Businesses are going to be forced to step up and take on multiple, inter-connected approaches to reach new customers, most of whom are hanging out on the web. We will see more companies using their customers as the face of their business – either by sponsoring bloggers or highlighting top customers in their online campaigns.

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Attracting Female Franchise Candidates via Social Media

“Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, right? On Venus, there’s allegedly a lot more touchy-feely, emotional stuff going on…you know, talking, crying, connecting. Well, according to a study by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, there’s a lot more of something else going on too: social networking.”

Read more about how women are utilizing social media in small business in the blog at Information Week SMB Technology for Small and Mid-size Business. The article, Social Media for Small Business: It’s a Girl Thang! refers to a study in which 1,200 small-business owners across 12 verticals (including financial services, high-tech, hospitality, and real estate) were surveyed, found that female entrepreneurs value social media “at three times the level” of male small-business owners!

This corresponds with our experience in working with franchise clients across various industry segments, where we continue to see more and more women explore franchising as a career alternative. And, for a variety of reasons, women choose to control their own destiny and take matters into their own hands.

Joining the force of today’s more sophisticated, educated and technologically advanced transitioning corporate executives, women are using social media to explore and investigate franchise opportunities. Tending to be more diligent and thorough than men in general, women relish relationship building and sharing of information making social media marketing perfect to attract female franchise candidates.

Several key steps to an effective social media strategy include, identifying targets, identifying where they congregate and communicate online, and identifying the online influencers of the target audience. In the case of women as a target audience, the blogging community is a perfect place to start, providing direction to other social media via links within the blogs along with direct “follow me / join me / like me” buttons. It’s within these captive “online communities” where franchisors can share information about their brand, interact with community members, and create interest in their franchise concept.

* Here’s another article supporting the case that women are embracing social media more than their male counterparts.

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