Women and Social Media: Ironic Misrepresentations within the Ad World


A recent case study published by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research titled “Digital Women Influencers” gathered data to “provide new and unique insights about the female market as marketers and communicators evolve their strategies and plans in this new era of consumer engagement” [1]. This study was conducted as a result of Pew Research Center’s published statistic that the percentage of females to males that utilize social media is 75% to 63%. Weber Shandwick and KRC Research held an online survey that 2,000 women across North America answered.

Overall, the study concluded that 86% of the 2,000 sampled North American women utilize social media accounts, with an average of 2.2 different types of online profiles. 81% of the sampled women use Facebook accounts. The women were then asked to rank social media in terms of favorability to other social interactions. Social networking was ranked at 75%, which exceeded spending time with a partner. (Of course one could consider the sampling bias in this case—the study was conducted online—but the number of women that use social networking still validates the outcomes of the survey). From a marketing perspective, these statistics are astonishing. Brands track which ads and products are re-pinned, posted, blogged, commented on, or “liked,” and can then generate trend forecasts to predict product success. Social media provides women with an outlet to express consumer preferences, and the producers within the market adjust to meet these consumer preferences. Social media allows women to engage with brands, and as a result women who utilize various social media platforms have an immense influence on modern brand marketing strategies.

When I first came across this case study, I couldn’t help but notice the irony in the situation:

Although women who utilize social media play a fundamental role in shifting brand-marketing strategies, only 3% of women within the advertising industry maintain positions as Creative Directors [2].

As a young woman aspiring to work within the advertising and media communications field, I view this gender gap as something that must be addressed. How is it that women have the influential power to change brand marketing strategies from the sidelines, yet cannot surpass the 97% male-dominant percentage within the office?

As consumers, women know what they want, and often express preferences via social media. Brands seek to engage with these women (the targeted consumer), listen to these preferences, and adapt their advertising strategies to successfully (well, hopefully) meet these societal preferences. But now something must change. It is time for women’s social media prevalence to translate into physical presence and shrink the gender gap that exists among creative directors within the ad world.

[1] http://socialnewsdaily.com/10066/women-are-social-media-influencers-and-media-mavens-study-finds/

[2] http://3percentconf.com/index.php/about

Julia Cohen

Brandeis University, ‘15

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