Costa Women launched at the end 2010 as an online social community for women living on the Costa del Sol. It was set up by Ali Meehan, to help women connect in their local area… but since then they have expanded right across the Spanish mainland and the Islands.
“In addition to the social side, we have added a business networking element too, and now number 1020+ women. Currently most events are Costa del Solbased, but we are looking for new women to host get-togethers along the coast and inland.” Costa Women provides a free to join, safe, online platform for sharing information about life in Spain, as well as connecting women who may share similar interests. “There are lots of opportunities to make some new friends (or reconnect with old ones as one of our members did recently after a 15 year gap!). The website is also being used by women who haven’t arrived here yet, but want to find out about living in this vibrant country even before making their plans!”
I asked Ali about what Costa Women means for women here on the Costa Blanca, in Costa Blanca News’ main readership area?
“We currently have an online group for Costa Blanca women and are excited about starting a get together in the area. Including the group for women on the Costa Blanca, we have nearly 60 interest groups, an area to announce your local events, space for discussions, a blog area to share your expat stories and a free business listings page to share your product or service with a larger community.”
Clearly this kind of connectedness is one of the key strengths of social media, and for expats it can be hard to find people who share those interests if you are limited to face to face connections… online you can reach so much further. “Costa Women is funded solely from my own resources so without an advertising budget it could have been a challenge to get the word out across Spain– that’s where Social Media came in!” Ali reflects. “Our mission is providing a platform for connecting, sharing, interacting and networking so using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+ and Linkedin we have been able to reach a much wider global community.
“We use the tools to share information about living in Spain, events (whether organised by Costa Women, or general), introduce our members via a weekly interview, share members’ discount offers and services, as well as promote our members’ hobbies, interests and businesses. We have also run weekly Twitterviews with our members (a 30 minute interview on Twitter about their business, charity, or passion) that has helped them grow their following too.
Nearly 20% of our members have found us through social media. We now have 1700+ followers on Twitter, 870+ members on Facebook and 100+ followers on Pinterest. I’ve been invited to write guest blogs, be a guest on a local radio show and have been used by Telegraph Expat forSpaincommentary; it all helps to get the word out at little or no cost – the new way of marketing!”
I asked Ali what lessons could be learned from this, about how expats in Spain can make the most of social media in other settings.
“Social media is social networking – simple. If you live in a different country and want to find friends and contacts, recommendations for where to live and schooling, or tradesmen, share what you are doing with the family back home, or find out what is happening in your area, social media is where to start. For business, it’s excellent to increase awareness of your product or service, to be used as a sounding board for new product launches, create events, or even as a replacement for Yellow Pages!
As Ali’s network is aimed at and comprises (mostly!) women, I had to ask her whether she felt women and men use social media differently to one another..? Is there truth in the stereotypes and clichés? “LOL now you are asking… social media is all about being social, connecting, supporting and sharing – all things women are used to having “grown up” creating and leading social and supportive networks, from the school gate, within the family, in a work environment etc. as well as being natural givers. With the arrival of the internet this ability has easily been transported into the social media/social business sphere.
“I am not sure I can dream enough to know where online networking and the www is going; if I look back over the last 10 years and how things have progressed, platforms have been created and new ideas rolled out… one thing I can be sure of, the next 10 will be mind blowing in its audacity and shape! The last 10 years have been about community, connecting people and for voices to be heard, I hope that continues!”
Want to be a Costa Woman? Register at http://costawomen.ning.com/
Linkedin: Costa Women Entrepreneurs