iVillage More Relevant for Women Than Facebook?

iVillage has a message for the advertising market: Our community is more relevant than ever—and women trust us more than Facebook.

At least, that was the big takeaway from a new research report issued by the NBC Universal-owned site on Thursday (Jan. 20). Titled “Women Like Me,” it attempts to make the argument that women are more inclined to have serious discussions on focused community sites than on venues like Facebook, despite the proximity of their closest friends.

In other words, “community” and “social network” are two very different things. “This big thing called social media is very different than this huge thing called community,” said Lauren Zalaznick, president, NBCU Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks.

And therefore community sites must be better places for brands to advertise. According to Jodi Kahn, evp, iVillage Network, there are 20,000 brand mentions on iVillage.com every month.

But with 500 million members and counting, surely Facebook must exceed that number, right? “Many [of these women] use social networks every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean they trust them as media brands,” said Jim DeMarco, iVillage’s vp of research and analytics—despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s contention that nothing is quite as valuable as the opinion of a trusted friend.

According to the research, which surveyed 2,232 women, 51 percent of respondents identified online communities as places they trust for information on products and brands, while only 14 percent said the same thing about social networks.

That’s likely because conversations on social networks are often frivolous, argued DeMarco, while women come to communities like iVillage, BabyCenter and Café Mom to have “meaningful, real conversations . . . they are solving a problem for [their] family.” And the anonymity that women’s communities provide “creates an environment of trust,” argues DeMarco.

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