Gender Differences in Social Media Usage

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I don’t know very much about the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I was five when it was published. However, even my five-year-old self didn’t need a book like that to point out some very noticeable differences between the behaviors of males and those of females. Today, I spend a good deal of my time managing social media campaigns for a range of clients. One thing that is very interesting to me as a social media marketer, and a challenge for our agency as a whole, is how to best speak to the varying preferences that exist among these unique genders. Perhaps I could go back to the book but I’m not sure the ROI is great there.

Marketers are quick to acknowledge and analyze the differences between the sexes (Mel Gibson even made a movie that fictionalizes this quest), and social media is quickly becoming one of the most interesting and valuable spheres to apply the men vs. women behavior comparison. A Forbes article pointed out that in a breakdown of the 2/3 of all adult online users who are also connected to social media channels, a whopping 71% of men are using Google+ compared to only 29% of women.

If you want to know where you can find women, it’s on the internet scrapbooking site, Pinterest, which has predominantly female users- 83% (at least in the United States. Globally the gender skew is much more evenly distributed). It’s not hard to figure out why women may be more attracted to Pinterest compared to men. Sure both women and men enjoy a great photograph or image, but the attraction to housewares, clothing, and even scrapbooking likely appeals to more women than men when you consider how the two sexes prefer to spend their time online.

As for an answer as to why Google+ serves as a social media channel that appeals most to men, there may be explanation for that too. A very interesting article featured on entitled, “Women Explain Why Google+ Is All Dudes”, takes a stab at providing the answer.

The article says that because the developers at Google tended to be mostly males, they designed and tested Google+ with a male eye, missing out on some of the interfaces that would attract more female users. On the contrary, “Facebook was built by college students, for college students,” which may explain why it has more of even division of gender among users (51% male to 49% female).

Can Google+ turn it around? Chances are, they if they want to, and certainly they do, it’s not too late. Improvements to certain features and design capabilities can go a long way. It’s not necessarily that women aren’t interested in the features provided by Google+, such as hangouts. If Google addresses the question of what makes women tick, they could salvage the reputation of Google+ and pull it out of the annals of social media site failures.


Photo credit: inju


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