Marketing to Women: One Influential Woman Has A Circle of 170 Friends

May 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

I have always been interested in the size of a women’s circle of friends because that’s where real word of mouth begins.  The number of friends we really interact with has something to do with our brains and the functional ability to socially interact with them.

Dunbar established an average of 150 as the number of stable relationships we can maintain.

Malcolm Gladwell talked about Dunbar’s number in The Tipping Point to describe the dynamics of a social network.  Dunbar’s number, created by anthropologist Robin Dunbar,  is the theoretical number of people with whom we can maintain social relationships, a number that ranges from 100 to 230, but is generally considered to be 150.  Of course, his research was based  on primates who didn’t have access to Facebook!

So, I read with real interest, a new study by PR firm Marina Maher Communications and word-of-mouth-tracking firm Keller Fay Group. The study of more than 2,000 women identified a group of 12% of those surveyed who have greater influence on the purchase decisions of others.  The study dubbed this group “Influence-Hers”.  It seems that “Influence-Hers” have considerably larger social networks — both online and offline — totaling on average about 170 people they interact with regularly, compared with 75 for a typical woman, said Marina Maher Managing Director Keith Hughes.

Social Media “Influence-Hers”

The majority (76%) of these “Influence-Hers” are involved in some type of social media (go figure!).  And these same “highly connected” women also tend to be more actively engaged with brands.  The study found Influence-Hers are 38% more likely than typical women to “like” brands on Facebook or to provide personal information to brands they like on Facebook. They are also happy to praise or criticize those brands:  105% more likely to post positive experiences and 125% more likely to post negative experiences about brands online.

The Power of the Consumer Review

These highly connected are not only influencing others; they too are influenced by brands they trust, endorsers and celebrities.  Some 83% rely on expert reviews very or fairly often; 84% rely on consumer reviews to make purchase decisions; 42% say they’re relying more in the past few years on expert reviews; and 59% are relying more on the reviews of other consumers to make decisions.  Research shows they can be as much as 90% more likely, depending on the category, to value the input of endorsers than other women.

So for us recovering ad execs, here’s the bottom line.  Expert and peer reviews are creating more of an impact on consumers than editorial and advertising.  One in eight women are key influencers for your brand, and 100 of those translates to 17.000 touchpoints.  We must engage those women and listen to them.  Because for smart, highly connected women with smartphones, that information is just a click away.

So, Dunbar, that’s not exactly monkey business, is it?

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§ 2 Responses to Marketing to Women: One Influential Woman Has A Circle of 170 Friends

  • Debra Gaynor says:

    Thanks so much for posting this, Jamie. Your story really captured the essence of the study.

    • Jamie Dunham says:

      Thanks for the great information, Debra. The study certainly validates many of the other studies about how we are connected. Facebook says the average user has 130 friends. And many think that women stay in touch with more friends online than men do. So, if you have 500 friends on Facebook, you are probably having communication with around 42, and passively reading posts of another 47. Interesting stuff!

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