When it comes to advertising, there is no better form of marketing than word of mouth.  According to the 2009 Women and Social Media Study from iVillage, BlogHer and Compass Partners, women are connecting like never before with online communities to do their shopping research and share information. Whether they are looking for a new SUV, a family vacation spot, or the best brand of baby food, women are relying on message boards and blogs for trusted advice.  “This study confirms that women, with such hectic daily lives, want to break through the marketing clutter and get first-hand recommendations about consumer products from their peers,” said Jodi Kahn, Executive Vice President, iVillage Networks. “iVillage – where 8,000 conversations were started during last week alone – is the ideal place to make those connections and share experiences.”
Together, iVillage and BlogHer, who form the largest interactive community of women online, conducted the research in partnership with Compass Partners to gather insights on the ways women in the United States use social media tools, such as message boards, blogs and social networking sites, in their everyday lives. The habits and attitudes of 42 million women who participate in any social media activity weekly or more often were measured.
According to the study, 64% of these online women polled are posting product recommendations to message boards and articles online.  An even higher percentage, 79%, of women in the iVillage Community are doing so.  Those postings are extremely influential, as 77% of women polled say community recommendations impact their purchase decisions.  Within the iVillage Community, even more women are impacted by online recommendations – 87%.
The study also found that in these tough economic times, 62% of those surveyed are comparing prices online more often, and 48% are spending more time online researching purchases.  Specifically, “Millenials” (women 18-26) and “Generation X” (women 27-43), are the largest segments of social media users, representing a powerful audience of moms and other women with major purchasing power.
Message boards and forums are women’s resources for “finding out about new products” (47%) and “giving me ideas about how to manage my household” (40%).  Message boards and forums are also used to “get information” (68%), “share opinions” (70%), “seek advice, recommendations” (49%), and “provide advice, recommendations” (49%).  Also, women who post to message boards enjoy influencing their communities.  80% of those who post to message boards report investing time searching for new products online and 53% agree they are on the leading edge of new trends.  Among those surveyed, topics that rank high include Parenting (70%), Pregnancy/Baby (71%) and Health/Wellness (71%) as key message board topics.

About the Survey:
The study compared two cells:

  • A general population sample consisting of a sample size of 2,821 U.S. women aged 18 – 77 years, weighted by key age breaks to be representative, of which 1,505 qualified as “active” social media participants who participated weekly or more often. The margin of error at 95% confidence = +/- 3.0%
  • An iVillage sample, consisting of iVillage website intercept sample of 788 respondents. The margin of error at 95% confidence = +/- 3.5%

Both portions of the study were conducted in March, 2009. The data is comparative.  Responses from two cells were not combined.