Social media has become ubiquitous. It seems like everyone has a Facebook or Twitter account these days. It's actually more common to hear some say, "Message me on Facebook," than it is to hear them say, "call me" or "email me". Social networks have become our online homes where we interact and communicate with friends and family, as well as with businesses that we patronize. It's a social world out there, but there are some striking differences between how different people use those social networks, particularly when comparing the different ways that men and women use Facebook.
It's a Woman's World
Way back in 2010, Forbes pointed out an interesting trend. More women were using social networking, Facebook in particular, than their male counterparts were. Back then, the estimates for membership on Facebook were 57% female, and 43% male. By the end of 2013, those numbers were even more skewed, according to Pew, with 72% of female Internet users utilizing Facebook, compared to just 62% of male Internet users.
If you take a broader look, you'll see the same trends for all other social networks with the exception of LinkedIn. Pinterest had only 5% of the male Internet segment, but 25% of female users pinned stuff regularly. Men tend to spend more time on social sharing sites like Digg and Reddit, as well as video sites like YouTube. Twitter and Tumblr seem to be roughly equal in male/female users.
So, women dominate social media, but what are they doing with their time on Facebook as compared to men? Interestingly, both sexes do things very differently.
Women vs. Men in Usage Terms
Social Media Today points out some of the differences in Facebook usage between the sexes. Women tend to have 8% more friends than men do, which is an indication of several things, including their willingness and ability to connect with multiple people and communicate with others. Women also tend to share the posts of others more often than men do, scoring 62% of the sharing pie according to the study. Men tend to focus on current events, politics, news and communicating with a small core of close friends.
Women are much more likely to share posts related to recent purchases or experiences with businesses, including restaurants, beauty salons and retailers, while men are more likely to share product purchases, particularly if they relate to the individual's career or career aspirations.
Men are more likely to "like" a post and move on, while women are more likely to "like" the post and leave a comment. Women are apparently also more likely to leave an emotional response - either positive or negative, while men's responses tend toward the neutral when they leave one at all. Interestingly, women are by far the most social gamers, and constitute the majority of gamers using Facebook games (as well as other social game platforms). Men seem to prefer their games to be console or PC based instead.
The Friending Difference
Facebook is all about connecting with others. Your connections are called "friends" whether you actually know them in real life or not. Men and women both friend others on the network, but they're very different in how they do it. For instance, a study by the Daily Mail out of the UK points out that most women only friend someone on Facebook if they know them in the real world (82% of female friendships). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to be friends with someone if there's a mutual friendship in between (a connection of a connection, so to speak). Men are also more likely to connect with coworkers and other business connections than are women.
The Communication Difference
Interestingly, men and women even communicate differently over social networks. A glance at a few current studies shows that both sexes use specific words and phrases more than the other, with men discussing console games, news, politics and the like far more than women. Women tend to use emotional words and phrasing, and to discuss fashion, retail, food and family far more than men do.
The Disconnect Difference
Men and women seem to use Facebook in extremely different ways, and that applies to how they disconnect with others - the dreaded "un-friending". Women tend to unfriend more people over rudeness or hateful comments or posts. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to unfriend someone for sending advertisements, game invitations and the like - things that tend to be viewed as invasive by most men, but ignored or even appreciated by most women.
The Influence Difference
Not only do men and women use Facebook differently, but the sexes are influenced differently by content shared by their friends and connections. Women seem to be more influenced by their connections sharing product, purchase or experience information. For instance, if several friends share information that they purchased an iPhone rather than an Android, a female user is more likely to give Apple at least some preference in her decision when upgrading. On the other hand, men tend to flat out ask for recommendations from their connections.
In the End
When all is said and done, social media is a woman's world. There are plenty of men there, but most sites are dominated by female users, particularly Facebook and Pinterest. Both sexes use social media sites like Facebook in drastically different ways, for different purposes. Of course, this has all been noticed by savvy marketing firms, and it's given rise to more targeted promotional methods that allow brands to reach their target audience more easily. Perhaps the most important takeaway from this information is that regarding advocacy. For brands seeking word of mouth and social sharing, reaching their female audience members through Facebook is of paramount importance. Brands can even maximize on the female dominance of Facebook by creating branded games, since women are the primary social gamers in the world.