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The Gift of Gab: Women’s Advantage in Social Media

Lauren MacEwen being social at a partyWomen have the business advantage in social media. We continue to be the majority of social media users. As a driving force behind a lot of the overall internet usage, women are commanding a powerful influence in shopping, B2B, social media, blogging and content driven sites.   But women are not just the consumers of retail, information and social activity, we are also the drivers.

Socially women are taught to communicate. We are taught to express our feelings and thoughts and spread information along to other interested parties. Community interactions teach us the art of gossip and gab. We are known as the purveyors of information, and we are often a vast and varied  storehouse of information.

Another school of thought argues that women are neurologically better communicators. According to The Female Brain women can process 13,000 more communication events than men and have 11% more brain cells in the planum temporale, which has to do with processing language.

“[F]rom a young age, women are conditioned to nurture, communicate, and express their feelings through words; all necessary qualities of a social medialite. Our male counterparts, no matter how accomplished or web savvy, have to work infinitely harder to master the art of casually dishing information and “gossiping” about industry hot topics.”

According to PsychTests, women are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and more willing to discuss issues and take others opinions into consideration. Also, women are better listeners and empathizers and are more skilled at handling “touchy-feely” conversations.  But does this mean that women are better at social media?

Whether or not you believe that women have a neurological or social advantage, many schools of thought support the idea that women are better communicators than men.  Communication is a skill, and like any skill it can be honed and developed.  This skill is culturally, and possibly neurologically, supported for women. For men, however, the cultural idea of masculinity as the “strong and silent” type is working in direct opposition to developing this ability.

The nature of social media is social. It is about community, communication, conversation and sharing information. The way in which women use the internet supports a social media advantage.  Though men and women both use the internet for research, the way women conduct their research is  is different. “Women tend to treat information gathering online as a more textured and interactive process – one that includes gathering and exchanging information through support groups and personal email exchanges.”

The business of being social is in interaction and the dissemination of information.

Through our skills in communication and our own user trends, women are becoming a force to be reckoned with in social media. “Women are enthusiastic online communicators.” Social media provides a platform where our natural or socially developed communication skills give us a business edge.

The joke in my house is that if you want to know what is going on ask me, not my husband. In fact, my husband often says how much he dislikes gossip and would rather abstain from a conversation than participate in what he feels is gossipy. Me, on the other hand, I am a collector of information. I collect gossip, news, sociological theory, tech developments, and maintain a repository of generally random information.

I often use this information in my business communication to deepen relationships.  Just like friendships, business relationships are not limited to the topic at hand. The gift of gab can be more than a friendly conversation starter, it can now be an entire business model

Some Facts:

Reposted from a guest post written by Lauren MacEwen for Dr. Shannon Reese


This week was all about engagement. Who do you follow? Who is following you, and do you talk to them? Are investors checking you out?  What opportunities might you be missing out on if people don’t understand what you really mean?

Ultimately, social media is all about communication and building relationships with one another. We build these relationships by having real conversations.

This Week on Blog Cubed…

I didn't say you were stupidAre you saying what I think you’re saying?

So much of social media is about what we say. What we say is important and how we say it is even more important. It is so easy to misinterpret what someone has posted over twitter or a status update because we don’t have the benefit of body language. Learn a strategy to help make sure you are not misunderstood. Click here to read more.

The Evolution of Engagement

We are always saying how social media is about engagement. Here is an example of what can happen when you engage. How a blog comment evolved into a social friendship. Click here to read more.

3 Ways Investors Use Social Media (and how it will help raise $$$)

Are your investors paying attention to your social media presence?  Can your social media help you find investors? A great guest post by Laura Petrolino of Flying Pig Communications. Click here to read more.

The New Facebook brings YOU to the forefront

Facebook has changed its profile layout.  Some like it, some don’t. But it does put you and your relationships upfront. Click here to read more.

The Panic of Rebranding

Are you panicked at the thought of rebranding? Yeah, me too. Sometimes rebranding is what you need to do for positive business growth. Click here to read more.

…and, I wrote some Guest Posts…

This week’s question for Dr. Shannon Reece’s panel of experts: What is your year-end challenge?

The Gift of Gab: Women’s Advantage in Social Media on Strategies and Tactics for Women


This was a fun week. We had some interesting posts, from Kim Kardashian to Video chats.  Next week we have an interesting post about why women have an edge in social media, and some great ideas for using the holiday season to help you network.

If you are interested in submitting a guest post on this blog, click here. I am always looking for interesting opinions on social media, business development, emotional intelligence and tech news.

Would you like me to write about a specific topic?  Let me know!

Kim KardashianKim Kardashian Crowdsurfs Twitter as a Business Strategy

Kim Kardashian did an interview on the Today Show.  She spoke about how she uses crowd surfing as both a business and social media strategy. Read how she uses Twitter to manage her brand.

Facebook Fan Page Analytics: What you don’t know

Facebook Page analytics is more extensive and available to users. But there’s a lot that is not being analyzed. Read what you are missing.

Video Chat

Social One-Stop-Shop: Skype on Facebook?

Are the rumors true? Is Facebook incorporating video chat? Read here to find out.

NetworkingIs your community page stealing your network?

Did Facebook duplicate your business page? Is their community page stealing traffic from you? Read to learn more.

AudienceYou are talking but no one is listening: Understand your audience

Do you know who your audience is? Are you are part of the group or are you outside screaming in?  Read here to learn how understanding your audience can reduce your work load.

Whose ideal are you? Everyone is someone’s inspiration.

A woman stading on Sandia Peake

When we focus on our business and professional development, it is easy to get caught up in where we are going. We focus on our next goal and where we want to be.  This is actually a good thing.  To invoke some sports analogies: see the goal line, be the ball, make the shot.  Keep your goals in view and make sure that you are working toward them every day.

However, we may get so involved looking ahead that we forget to appreciate where we are now.

Speaking to someone the other day, I was hit by a realization about appreciation and perspective.  I was quite taken aback by this metaphorical slap.  I was in a dialogue with a young woman who is highly ambitious and has been culturally successful in her artistic ventures, though not yet monetarily successful. She expressed her admiration for my professional success. She said she wanted to be like me and wanted to attain the success that I have reached.

I was so honored by what she said.  I realized that we spend so much time looking at where we are going, or trying to go, that we often forget to acknowledge where we are.  But even that is not necessarily enough to give us the feeling of accomplishment that we sometimes need. We can even consider where we have come from and see our growth and progression, and still not have a feeling of accomplishment because we are always gauging our success on our goalS.

Sometimes it is important to realize that you may be someone else’s ideal. In their eyes you are the person they aspire to be. Just as you may have someone in your circle who is your role model, your work and accomplishments may represent that for someone else.

I was given a great gift by being made aware of this.

Who are you inspiring?

My Business IS Personal: Emotional Involvement and Success

A woman with her arms in the air feeding seagullsNew business ventures are extremely personal. It doesn’t really matter what your business is, because in the beginning it is all you. The success or failure of any enterprise is dependent on what you do.

When we start something, be it a big project, a company, a new division or a partnership, it is very exciting. In part what makes it so exhilarating is that it is so close to us. People joke about the term “brain child” but this could not be closer to the truth.

Once you decide to let your venture take form and become more than thoughts and ideas, it becomes susceptible to the critiques, opinions and influences of the outside world. As it takes form you clarify your vision; you begin to define it and refine it. But the refining process has to happen out in the open. You have to begin working on it before you are able to truly see all the steps and developments that are needed. This means that your growing pains are happening in public view.

For some the next scary step is taking this brain baby that is still fresh and not fully developed to a financier and essentially asking, do you find me worthy? If they do then they give you the money necessary to grow your venture into something with real potential. Or at least that is how we feel about it. We internalize such things as financial investment as a judgment on the worthiness of ourselves and our ideas.

The first investment in your business is an emotional one. The first successes raise you up –  your work is validated and you feel the elation of being on the right path. But criticisms can send you down to a new level of feeling bad. You question what you are doing. Question how and why you are doing it.  This whole process is an emotional roller coaster where the highs are amazing and the lows are devastating.

The emotional involvement we have in our ventures is what gives us the drive to work crazy hours and commit 200% to make something work. However,  that same emotional enngagement can also hold us back.  What feeds our drive and passion gives us doubt and insecurity on the flip side.

At the beginning our emotional attachments are central to our drive, but at some point they can become detrimental.  Once you truly make the commitment, though, there is no point in questioning the decision. Honestly, it is more than just saying, “I’m doing this!” It’s saying, “I’m doing this, and signing this, and certifying this.” Essentially you are in it. Embrace it.

The challenge is to use this energy to drive you forward, but recognize that at the beginning you have no emotional separation between yourself and your venture. Every reaction, judgment, success and pitfall gets internalized as a comment on you and your ability to achieve your goals. To be successful we need our emotional drive, but we also have to be able to separate ourselves when the time is right.  This is your business, not an economic-based effigy of yourself. Ultimately, your self worth is not contingent on the success of your ventures.

For me, understanding this makes creating that separation easier.

Why your business isn’t growing: What does your fear look like?

Lauren MacEwen dressed as a demon demonstrating fear of change

What does your fear look like?

Yesterday I talked about the Status Quo. So now that you  have decided that you don’t want to live there, what is stopping you from moving forward?

Fear of Change

I was recently at a seminar by Mari Smith at Blogworld Expo 2010.  She talked about fear.  Fear is the biggest enemy to growth.  It causes us to doubt ourselves and feel uncertain –  about our ability to do something, to truly be the same person we are when we present ourselves professionally, to value our skills or our knowledge.

A lack of certainty paralyses people, which is a primary form of procrastination.

So what are you afraid of?  The mother of all fear is that we won’t be able to handle it.  So stop taking it all in as a whole picture.  If you look at everything you need to do to get from A to Z, of course you will be overwhelmed. Of course you will be convinced that it is too much.  So stop looking at it like that. Identify what you need to do, step by step.

  1. What do I need to do right now?
  2. What makes me money today?
  3. What makes me money tomorrow?
  4. What makes me money next week?
  5. Do I need help?

You probably want to have a wildly successful blog that creates multiple sources of income and feeds your value as an expert in your field.  Of course you haven’t even created your blog yet.  Yeah, I would be freaked out too.

Lets break this down, because you don’t go from deciding to start a blog to being Brian Clark over night. So what do you have to do?

  1. Decide a host for your blog. wordpress? blogger?
  2. Set up your blog.
  3. Write something

Ok, so you are done!  Well, kind of.  You are done being started, but that is still a huge step. Now what?

  1. How many times a week are you going to write?
  2. Write some more
  3. Start promoting your blog on sites like twitter, digg and technorati

You will start to draw readers. Engage them. Talk to them.  Build an audience.  Before you know it you will be the next ProBlogger!

Just remember that everything starts with a single step.  Sometimes it is not good to look at the big picture because the big picture can overwhelm us. Create a list of 5 things. Small steps. As small as you wish to make them. Any movement forward is progress. What do you have to do first?  Now do it. Then go for #2.

Just be sure to make #5 on your list “write the next list”!

#unfollowme – Relationship Value on Twitter

The current keyword trending on Twitter is #unfollowme where people are discussing the reasons why you should unfollow them.  At first when I saw this topic I just chuckled, but then I started thinking about it and got curious what was being said.

Twitter updates from the #unfollow me hashtag trend

In certain ways this is the layman’s discussion about a common topic in social media. The value of Twitter relationships and how people use it for meaningful engagement.

The above image is just a sampling of the tweets, but they cover some of the wider spread issues.

  1. You are only interested in getting followers and not in engaging with your followers
  2. You think that a follow means a relationship- like any relationship, it takes work
  3. You think everything is about you, whether it is you tweeting or someone else
  4. You are scattered and have no POV
  5. You are not actually interested, or like, the person you are following

Ultimately the common thread for these tweets is that if you want to have real relationships on twitter, it takes real engagement and genuine interest. It is about the conversation which means talking to someone else. Retweeting their tweets. Responding to their posts. Writing back.  Knowing and being interested in who they are.

You could imagine that many of the tweets for #unfollow me would be much the same as #followme.

  1. #followme if you like having conversations
  2. #followme if you want to have a twitter relationship
  3. #followme if you share information
  4. #followme if you have a distinct point of view
  5. #followme if you are actually interested in me

So what is your #follow me tweet?

Women are bad Entrepreneurs? Speak for yourself! Part 2

Continuation from Women are bad Entrepreneurs? Speak for yourself! Part 1

Women in BusinessI asked Smith College Alumnae to share their thoughts about the article by Penelope Trunk in Techcrunch that claims that women are bad at startup’s because of kids.  The post is inflammatory to say the least.  Here is a continuation of what Smith women had to say about the post.

Cynthia Neil says, “Ms. Trunk has made her own decision for her own reasons. She could have written an excellent article written simply from that premise. Instead she has generalized her decision to all women of a certain age who aren’t running startups — a mistake, in my view. I’d like to know what she means about the biological clock exploding at 35 — are you not supposed to have kids after that? There are women having their first children well after that date (including myself, and including many of the lawyers I know). Not everyone is dating the right person at 25, or 27 — I certainly wasn’t.

And only 1 year of marriage sans children? Girl needs to get a life — or may value her husband primarily as a sperm donor, which is too bad, because although men are definitely different from women I usually enjoy being around my husband, and we certainly enjoyed life together before our child arrived (which was four years into our marriage).

I also find it amusing that she thinks she’s “a magnet for high-powered women with stay-at-home husbands”, but it’s really the women running the household too, because the men just don’t pay enough attention. AND they’re running startups as well. Really? Methinks perhaps she’s a magnet for control freaks who fail to see the value of their spouses… not necessarily for high-powered women.

I’m sure she makes good points about the nature of startups — that they demand 100-hour weeks, that they are like having a child, that it’s very difficult to have a personal life of any magnitude while you are involved in a startup. That’s fine. The startup as a specific kind of business may not be what women with young children need. My mother runs a business out of her home — granted, she’s not in that age range and doesn’t have small children at home, but she COULD be in that situation and she’d still be fine doing what she’s doing. It’s a very flexible situation and she’s making a great deal of money. It’s not a “startup” in the sense that Penelope uses the word, or really in any sense — she’s been running it in one form or another since I went to college — but it would be a feasible business for a new/young mother.

I think it’s doable for young women with the right kind of knowhow and dedication to run their own new business while they get their personal lives going. They will need to remain more flexible than Ms. Trunk has.

I also wish that Ms. Trunk hadn’t generalized her experience to the entire female population. What about the women who met their mate when they were in college? Or the ones who don’t until they’re 35? She has a very narrow definition of the female personal/career path. She’s right that our personal choices affect our career choices — duh, it’s your career, so it’s personal too. But to generalize all of those choices to all of her readers is silly. Why not write it as “this is my decision and why I’m making it”?”

Kennie Desine wrote, “[The post] reminded me of a pivotal law suit, decades ago, charging Sears (it may have been Sears & Roebuck at the time) with discrimination against a female employee who vied with male employees for a significant departmental promotion. Sears stated that women didn’t perform well in management, as they were more interested in “makinig friends” on the job, while men approached management as if it were a jungle. The finding was against the female Plaintiff.”

Tish Gier wrote, “Trunk is an a$%&*#@ who is reporting her own anecdotal experience and someone should smack her right in the head. The issue is very complicated–and 20-30 something men are often prejudice against 40-something women(who are often in the “entrepreneurial phase” of their lives) because they see women only as either those who are marriagabel and those who are not. Yes, women have biological clocks, but when those clocks slow down, or if they decide (for many a good reason) not to have children, and they want to develop something, it’s men’s own biological clocks that cause us to be left out.” (@tishgrier, read her blog)

Annie Pedersen writes, “The author has a point. In my business, I see married couples with children and both spouses work. Many times the mother is the parent making the doctor’s appointments, driving the soccer taxi, and making dinner. There are plenty of exceptions, too; however, where the father takes over those tasks. Anecdotely, it appears the parent with the lower paying job seems to be the one who takes on more of the home-based work.” (read Annie’s other post on finding success here, email her,  or visit her website)

Women are bad Entrepreneurs? Speak for yourself (part 1)

Going CrazyPenelope Trunk is an accomplished woman. She has had successful entrepreneurial ventures and has published extensively in publications like Boston Globe and Time Magazine. However if you read her recent article in Techcrunch, you would not be left with the impression that she is a successful entrepreneur and writer. Trunk begins her article stating that she hated what she did, despite being successful. As we all know success does not mean happiness. Instead of writing a post about finding her happiness outside of the entrepreneurial rat race to settle down with a new husband, kids, pigs, sheep and a panoply of furry farm animals. She essentially writes a post how women are horrible entrepreneurs and business people. She touches on the pressures and inequities of society. Yes women have harder times getting business funding. Yes women are still discriminated against in the work place, in competitive job positions and in salary ranges. Yes there is a traditional time in woman’s life when she is likely to have children. Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda can expound on this for us all.

Trunk sites a New York Times report that describes entrepreneurs as being manic. However, we are not all Charlotte Gillman Perkins ripping-off-the-yellow-wallpaper crazy because we want to be successful or run our own business. She furthers this insult by saying that women are not committed or focused enough to be good entrepreneurs. That we are not willing to sacrifice our private lives to be the next big thing. She even claims that 20-something year old men are better at startups than basically any woman because they have unfettered drive. Honestly, speak for yourself. My drive is hardly fettered and I am not a 20-something or a man.

Women face an uphill battle that has been raging on for not just decades, but hundreds of years. We have a society where a stay-at-home dad is lauded for making such a sacrifice and women are common place, and looked down upon, for the same sacrifice. Trunk says that children are the reason women do not have startups is because of kid. I say that is a load of sheep pellets. We make our choices. Some women want to raise a family, and they should be lauded for that! Some women want careers, and they have worked hard for them. Some women want to have a family and a business, maybe even a family business! oooh!

Trunk is obviously speaking from her own experience and unfortunately for the rest of us she seems to feel that she is speaking for our entire gender. She made a choice to focus on her career and was very successful. She then made a choice to focus on her family, and feels successful in that. Good for her. But lets face it, her success in her career is what is allowing her to focus on her family in the manner that she is. She stepped out of the rat race because she didn’t like it and it is a sweeping generalization that her reason for not liking applies to the rest of us.

So simply, speak for yourself.

Since she chose to speak for all of us, as a proud and loud Smith College alumnae, I decided to ask some Smithies what they thought of her post. Needless to say, I got some great responses!

Penelope Phillips-Armand says, “At least Ms. Trunk seems to realize that she’s been putting too many of her eggs in one basket. As Gail Shee…hy pointed out as early as the 1970’s in her book “Passages, ” many women have trouble integrating professional, family, and personal values until age 35 or so, when they have lived enough to know what works for them as individuals. Been there, done that. Even after developing a strong sense of one’s deeper self, one has to be alert to the many centrifugal callings that compete for one’s available resources. Men are by no means exempt from that problem: I remember hearing once about a young architecture student who quit school because he was desperate to do his laundry.

The “Brazen Careerist” blog draws mostly on the author’s experience, and it sounds as though she pushes for extremes–both in her endeavors and in her conclusions. That title, setting up startups versus children, is outrageous–not only because it might yet be taken straight by some benighted souls, but also because there are so many ways to run startups as well as to raise children.

Let’s not be horrified; we need our wits about us. Let’s hope, instead, that the next phase of her life brings her further integration, moderation and wisdom.” (Visit Penelope’s website here or here or her newest site.)

Anne Gonnella writes, “From personal experience as a mom, I agree and disagree. There is NO WAY IN HELL I would try to run a startup as a new mom. Even if my husband were to stay home and raise the kids, I would have to be ok with not taking part in raising my kids myself, and I’m not. On the other hand, I had my first baby at 39. Married at 30. If I had wanted to, I would have had plenty of time in my 20’s to start a business and work crazy hours to get it going, without interfering with the rest of my life plans for a family. I know plenty of women who had children later in life, too – it’s not that unusual and there is no biological reason not to have a rich and time consuming career before kids, or after the kids are older.

I take real exception to her claim that boys and girls are genetically pre-disposed to different behaviors at the outset. She says she did her research, bu clearly she only read some of the material out there. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary she missed. For example, Cordelia Fine points out in her book (read about it here and here)  that a lot of theories of gender differences are based on bad science. Barbara Mackoff, in her book uncovers many of the hidden ways we create gender bias without realizing it, and then call the differences we see innate. I could go on. Saying that boys use guns because they are hardwired to and girls just want to nurture their dolls just provides convenient excuses for gender discrimination instead of embracing individual differences and open minded attitudes.” – (Email Anne, @annathema, or read her blog)

Tiffani St.Cloud writes, “I think she has some valid ideas to share. She hasn’t shared them in any way I can agree with, however. I’ve worked and continue to work with women who have children and are excellent managers.

I’ve also worked with a man who had the pattern of disorder she attributes to all women who have children. He was co-parenting (with his wife), but he still couldn’t pull it together and have a work-life balance.

It’s one thing to want to share your personal experience — I’m all for that. It’s quite another to take your personal experience, generalize it to all women, then close by saying that 20 something males are superior employees/managers. That’s a model that worked for her, she’s entitled to express it, but she’s has no background to state that it’s true for others.”

…so many Smithies wanted to share, I decided to break this up into two parts.  Part 2 will post Saturday October 16.

Are we actually friends?

The Grow Blog just wrote an interesting post about the lack of real relationships in social media.  He talks about how to form seemingly substantive professional relationships with people online.  You feel like you know them. They are your friends.  Your circle. Your people.  Then you learn about something very significant happening in their life and you realize that your friend is more of an acquaintance, or colleague at best.  He then puts out a call to action for us all to reach out to one another. Talk to each other. Get to know one another…really, truly get to know each other.

I think this is a great idea. There are many people out there that I communicate with regularly with whom I know nothing about their life.

Think of social media as an office.  There are many people you work with that you just say hello to.  Then there are people with whom you frequently chat up. Then there are the people you turn to for support.  These are all different levels of relationships.  I am sure most of us have had the moment when we realized that someone we saw and spoke with every day, who was a workplace confidant, and one of the people you turned to during tough professional times, was someone you did not know beyond work.  Does this make the relationship any less real?

No, it doesn’t. I just means this is someone that you don’t invite to you Saturday BBQ.  But this is still someone you are invested in. You want to know they are ok and you care about their emotional well being.

Many people are reticent about bridging the relationship gap between professional and friend.  The professional persona we put forward is not generally the same as the personal persona.  Maybe you keep your politics close to your breast. Maybe your religion is something extremely significant in your life, but not something you talk about at work.  Maybe you are gay. Trans-gendered. Feminist.  Not a natural blond. Liberal. Conservative. Republican. Decaff coffee drinker. Maybe you actually hate Starbucks.

You get the point.  In our professional environments we generally know the accepted social milieu. When we cross the gap to personal friendship we enter unknown territory.

In a few of my attempts to cross the friendship chasm, I discovered that people whom I got along with extremely well at work were not people I got along with personally.  I was taken aback to find out that we were so extremely different in our personal lives and beliefs, when professionally we were like peas in a pod.

The point is, build substantive relationships but don’t devalue your professional relationships because your colleague is not your BFF.