Monthly Archives: August 2014

“Sex and Social Media”: gender differences & participation in social technology

According to Diana Nyad, women are learning to leverage the power they hold in social media (http://womensvoicesforchange.org/wed-5-13.htm)

Recent research suggests women are learning to leverage the power they hold in social media (image source: Women’s Voices for Change)

Marketers looking to make the most of social media would do well to understand the unique ways in which each gender interacts with each platform. This was the message from David Sim at a recent Highland Social event in Inverness.

Organised by Michelle Russell of Snow Marketing, Highland Social events bring together people working in social media, as well as those looking to learn more about the landscape as they dip a toe into using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo or any of the other social platforms.

Belying its risqué title, Sim’s breakfast talk, “Sex and Social Media”, examined gender differences in the way men and women use social media. It was a salutary message for anyone hoping to make the most of the time they invest into social media — for themselves, and for their clients.

David Sim from Open Brolly, with Jo Adams, left, at Highland Social

David Sim from Open Brolly, with Jo Adams, left, at Highland Social

Sim is a project director and co-founder at OpenBrolly. He designs bespoke web and mobile systems, and project-manages their implementation.

Science, he said, has shown that women have a deeper interest in people and relationships, generally speaking, whereas men are more preoccupied with practicalities and logical deduction. Our respective use of today’s social technology is a prime example of how these differences are manifest.

Men, David said, see business as highly competitive, and can be disappointed when they don’t see an immediate benefit from their “investment” in social media. Women on the other hand, are more interested in forming lasting relationships, and look to social media to share experiences with people. Women are disappointed when companies just talk about themselves. As women are a key audience for many brands, this insight is important for marketers attempting to reach us.

David had some interesting statistics:

  • 16% of adults have a Twitter account; 62% of Twitter users are women.
  • On Facebook, 58% of users are female. Women comment more on Facebook, while men tend to “lurk”. Both men and women have more female friends on Facebook.
  • Pinterest, David described as a “magnet for women”: it has the same number of users as Twitter, but 70% of them are women. Women see it as a form of window shopping.
  • YouTube has a slightly higher percentage of male users, at 54%. However, as 25% of men watch a YouTube video daily, it is a great platform to reach them.
  • Like YouTube, LinkedIn also has an audience of slightly more men than women, with 54% of users being male.

Social media provides us with a great deal — from education, to entertainment, to sharing personal experiences. What social media research tells us is that how you present your content is crucial. Depending on what audience you are after, you may be better off trying to create a dialogue, rather than presenting “Top Tips”.

Hearing David’s insights, it occurred to me that even SMEs and small local businesses should  consider a multi-platform approach to their social media activities to make the most of each sex’s way of interacting with social media.

Who makes the decision about whether to use or even investigate your client’s services or product in the average household? News that women — despite earning 60% less than men, on average — control the majority of discretionary spending, means that reaching them is paramount for your social media activities to be successful.

Understanding what women are interested in is a good first step to creating a dialogue on social media. But it’s only the beginning. The capacity to create good content, coupled with a comprehensive communications strategy, is the formula for long-term success when it comes to social media management.

If you would like some help reaching your audiences — with social media or traditional media — please get in touch.