"We don’t have enough white guys working for us. We need more of them to apply; can you help with that?”

Said no client, ever. 

In a bid to increase gender diversity in the workforce, brands are increasingly looking for social strategies to drive applications from a female audience.

That’s trickier than you might think.

Last year, a Nielsen study found that only half of UK online ad campaigns targeted at women actually reached them, compared to the 62% success hit rate when targeting men. Broad demographic zones, with wider age ranges and mixed male and female audiences had much higher on-target rates.

What you think you need is a social strategy that targets women.

What you really need is a social strategy targeting a broader audience, based around content designed with women in mind. Not ‘content for women’, covering only ‘women’s issues’, but that considers when, why, and how women like to consume content online.

Men spend more time online than women do, so there’s a bigger pot of their attention to go around. It’s harder to get a slice of women’s time and attention in a content-saturated world.

The Pool is great at this. Since its inception in 2014, its (mainly female) audience has grown to a million monthly unique users – success that founders Lauren Laverne and Sam Baker attribute to their user focused approach. Content is high quality and carefully curated. As Baker explains:

It’s a question of stopping for a minute and asking why that person is going to give you five minutes of her time. If she’s going to do that, and you want her to come back when she has another five minutes, it’s got to be good.”

So quality is key – but when we’re talking about content aimed at women, what does good look like?

An Influenster survey of nearly 13,000 US women from across Generations X, Y & Z found that women of all ages responded well to authentic, entertaining content that tells a story.

AOL found that women consume online content to take a mental break, aid relaxation and find out something new. They want to feel inspired, involved, and connected with others.

This is something else The Pool’s founders grasp intuitively; content is designed for an audience looking for a brief diversion, rather than actively seeking something out:

“We’re always thinking about the woman standing in the queue at Prêt, or at her desk; it’s always completely targeted to that moment.”

The same AOL research suggests that careers-based content – for men and women – should aim to inspire, inform and support users.

Combining all of these findings shows that careers content created for women should be positive, and meet the needs of users seeking fresh ideas and ready to try something new.

‘How to’ videos are a brilliant example. YouTube data shows that although men are more likely than women to have an account on YouTube, women are 50% more likely than men to regularly watch how-to videos.

You probably already know that women are more likely than men to have an Instagram account (34% of UK women vs. 27% of UK men) or a Pinterest account (17% vs. 7%). Women are also more likely than men to take photos on their phones, share photos, post comments and click on newsfeed ads.

A social strategy devised with women in mind will make use of this information, and more.

HOWEVER.

While there are steps you can take to make content more appealing to women, and to maximise the chances of it appearing in front of them, women are just people. We make up half the world’s population. We’re not a special interest group. Women engineers are likely to have similar interests to male engineers.

Great content is great content. If you put time, effort and money into creating authentic, high-value content that tells a compelling story, you’ll be rewarded with increased engagement across the board.