Rise of the she-conomy

blogher.jpgSocial media guru Leslie Bradshaw, AB’04, spent last weekend in Chicago networking at BlogHer, the annual women-bloggers convention. Eighty-five tweets (#blogher09) and six swag bags later, Bradshaw—who has worked in online brand management using social technologies and communications since graduating—shares her observations on social media, marketing, and gender.

Nowadays companies are turning to the blogosphere and Twitterverse to reach their marketing goals, and the main demographic they’re targeting is females. Although I have observed this trend as a blogger, Twitterer, and through my job, never had it been so apparent to me than during BlogHer.

Terms of endorsement

Marketers covet positive reviews from female power-users within viral and social media outposts, and these women covet their products. An entire economy has formed around this relationship.

From beverage samples and leopard-print thumb drives to “love lotions” and vibrators, everyone at BlogHer went home with some sort of free swag to make them happy. If I were still taking classes from Stuart Michaels in the gender studies department, I would certainly have a write up on the implications of the last two items, informed by theories from Foucault, Freud, and Rubin, of course.

Rockin' in the free world

Aside from the happiness derived from getting stuff for free, these product placements and giveaways reflect a change. Many women control their household’s spending, and companies recognize women are social creatures who are likely to share their experiences (the good, the bad, and the ugly) with their friends and family.

One of the reasons why I am fascinated by and enjoy participating in social media is because its users—especially the 9 million strong in the BlogHer community—are lowering barriers, whether they are geographic, socioeconomic, ethnic, or just purely asymmetries in information.

Save for tech daddies, such as CC Chapman and the Digital Dads, there is not an equal influx of male bloggers hyping products to other men. To borrow a term from Katty Kay while channeling a Steven Levitt-esque play on words and a James Carville delivery: “It’s womenomics, stupid.”

This might not be the next sexual revolution, but I’m happy to be recognized for my purchasing power, one free thumb drive at a time.—L.B.

Photos courtesy Leslie Bradshaw. View Bradshaw's complete BlogHer 2009 Flickr set, including images from her visit to the Quaker Oats booth (shown above) and free conference swag.

July 28, 2009