About one-half of online women in the US were fans or followers of a company’s social marketing presence in April 2010, according to a survey from SheSpeaks and iVillage.

It was most popular to follow brands, especially in the consumer packaged goods category. Women were less engaged with retail outlets on social sites.

This finding was in contrast with Q3 2009 research on social network users of both genders conducted by Dynamic Logic and Millward Brown. In that survey, where the retail category was a single choice rather than broken out into store types, 71% of social network users who followed a marketer were fans of a retailer. The second-place consumer packaged goods category snagged only 48% of followers.

The Dynamic Logic–Millward Brown study also found social network users had different reasons for following retailers (to learn about sales, 71%) and packaged-goods brands (to learn about new products, 83%).

But according to SheSpeaks and iVillage, the types of information and promotions presented by brands on sites like Twitter and Facebook are one of the least powerful purchase decision influencers for online women.

Coupons were a significantly bigger purchase driver, and consumer reviews and other longer-form content were also effective at fostering favorable opinions and getting women to look for products in stores. By contrast, only about one-third of women were more interested in products based on company statements on social networking sites.

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