Married women want girlfriends with whom to talk because their men don’t listen to them. On the other hand, married men who want girlfriends that aren’t looking for scintillating conversation, but that’s getting way off track.
Back to business. Social media is only reinforcing the age-old divide.
Facebook, it seems, is dominated by women. Of the 400 million+ members, 57% are women but the site attracts 46 million more women visitors than men each month. Plus female Facebookers have 8% more friends and do 62% of the sharing.
“The world’s gone social. And women are more social than men” explains Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Facebook is not alone in its female bias. Women are the majority users on Twitter, MySpace, Bebo and Flickr.
Why? Sociologists will tell you that girls are taught from birth to share information. It’s a skill passed down from our stone-age grandmothers who had to learn to cooperate to survive. (“You watch the kids and scare off the wolves; I’ll go forage for berries for dinner.”) That same cooperation is apparent on-line today as women query each other about toilet training, dealing with difficult bosses, and shopping preferences.
Men, on the other hand, gravitate toward Digg, YouTube and LinkedIn which are content-driven sites. Statistics show that men use YouTube 20% more than women, perhaps because the site is about finding, consuming and passing along content. It is not about conversation or sharing ideas.
Men also blog more and are more likely to comment on other blogs. (Side note: from the blog responses I’ve read, men tend to be confrontational and competitive. [“You are such an idiot!”] Women’s comments are more supportive of the writer [“That was really funny!”])
Men, it seems, see Social Media as a tool to gather information to increase their status. For in today’s society information is power.
It figures. The same sociologists will say that men are taught to be competitive from birth. Our cave-dwelling spear-wielding male ancestors probably jostled for credit for making the kill-of-the-day the way they now fight for the fastest computer or the corner office. It’s all about status within a community.
So what can a savvy marketer do to span this chasm? Retailers are figuring it out.
Getting a woman to say she prefers your brand is tremendously influential to her friends. Since twice as many women as men say they share purchasing preferences on line, some of the most successful fashion brands—Tommy Hilfiger and Urban Outfitters among them—sponsor virtual fashion shows to engage their adoring public. And not coincidentally, to sell product.
Some marketers are using games—long popular with men and growing in popularity with women—to win eyeball time, and possibly win new converts to their product line.
Similarly, both men and women respond to tweets or text messages from their favorite retailers. (“Half price burritos tonight at _______’s from 5:00 to 7:00. Bring this message with you to participate.”)
Men, however, ever looking for the competitive leg up, like to get content from articles. After all, one never knows when that new factoid can be a valuable weapon in one’s arsenal. Hence, savvy marketers are using “transactional” sites like LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter to post provocative material hoping to spark manly interest.
Yes, difference in communication style is as old as gender.
Long after Thomas Edison and long before Feminism, some man somewhere asked “What are the three fastest forms of communication?”
His troglodyte friend responded “Telegraph…telephone…Tell a woman.”
Men guffawed. Women winced.
Social Media types say “Thank Goodness!”