NEWSLETTER | WOMEN IN MOTION
Social Media The Battle of the Sexes
The evolution of technology in general, and the advent of the smartphone among other gadgets and the social media in particular, has meant that even the most change-resistant people are using social media at some level in their lives. As the age-old battle of the sexes continues, social media has made for an interesting playing field for men and women. The question that arises is whether men, who are traditionally regarded as being dominant in a patriarchal society, are a dominant force in the fast-paced social-media world. Or are the women, who are very quick to adopt new products and services, ruling the roost in this sphere? Is it, or is it not, a battle of the sexes in the social-media arena?
by Andrew Ngozo
By its very nature, the social media is fast-paced and competition is intensely fierce. A recent study in the United States of America (USA) titled, ‘Miles Apart: How Women and Men Use Social Media and Mobile’, conducted with the sole intention of establishing social-media usage among men and women came to one definite conclusion: when it comes to social-media usage, men and women are miles apart with regard to how they use social media and mobile. “The adage, ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus’, applies when it comes to how consumers use mobile technology and social media,” says Catherine Clifford, a social-media analyst based in the USA. This, she continues, results from the fact that, according to the study, men and women turn to social media for different reasons and in varying degrees.
“Men tend to turn to social media for business reasons more than women do. They also, somewhat surprisingly, turn to social media for dating purposes more than women do. Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to use social media to stay in touch with family and friends, share photos with friends and to find how-to information,” Clifford reveals. Elaborating further, she explains that, similarly, men and women look to their smartphones for different reasons when they interact with brands. Men are more likely than women to scan a QR code or coupon code. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to follow a brand on social media so that they stay up to date about deals.
The Dynamics of Social-media Usage
Let’s get into the details with regard to the different dynamics of social-media usage among men and women. Twenty-seven percent of the men who took part in the survey said they used social media for business reasons, in contrast with 22% of women who did the same. On the dating front, the study revealed that more men than women used social networks to find that ideal partner. Clifford observes: “However, women are more likely to use social media for relationships, sharing and self-help.” With regard to online brand interaction, there are stark differences in how men and women interact with digital promos. Whereas a man would opt for quick access to deals or information, women are likely to like or follow a brand before active engagement. In the same vein, women, reveals Catherine, are less likely to take action on paid digital advertising. They are inclined to ignore social-media and mobile-text adverts more often than men do.
Let us now look at some of the big social-media players in the world and how they fare vis-à-vis men in contrast to women’s social-media usage. In total, 71% of women use social networks compared with 62% of men. A closer look at Twitter reveals that 62% of its total user base is female. Facebook, on the other hand, is gaining momentum, with a 58% female user base. Further breaking down Facebook usage points to an interesting phenomenon. Sixty-two percent of the sharing done on Facebook is done by its female users, who, on average, have 8% more friends than men. Interestingly, 8 out of 10 women say that their Facebook friends annoy them!
Seventy percent of Pinterest users are female. This platform resonates with those who are largely lifestyle-oriented, with DIY (do-it-yourself) tutorials and recipes having a 42% higher click-through rate than any other pins. However, as the study reveals, it’s not all arts and crafts on this platform, as it drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. In the men’s corner, one in four of Google+ male users consider the platform to be a social network. The rest of these users (75%) do not even interact with other Google+ users. Professional social networking site LinkedIn has a 54% male base. Further breaking down the male user patterns in respect of this platform indicates that 75% research other companies, while 68% reconnect with past businesses and associates, and 45% seek face-to-face networking opportunities. Only one in 10 people, regardless of gender, opt for the paid version of LinkedIn.
Lastly, YouTube, with official statistics of 280-million active YouTube accounts, has a 54% male base that, incidentally, spends more time watching videos online. Twenty-five percent of YouTube’s male users watch at least one video daily, while, on the female front, this figure is a low 17%. Drilling down even further, men spend, on average, an hour watching a YouTube video each week. In sharp contrast is the fact that women only spend about 35 minutes doing the same.
The statistics indicated paint a clear picture of a tightly contested space. It emerges that social-media preference and usage is essentially a matter of choice on the part of the user. As technology becomes ever-more accessible and gadgets get smarter, so user habits will keep evolving as well. If the trends discussed are anything to go by, then the race is not nearly won by any gender. Social media will remain a space where the battle of the sexes is a phenomenon that will be waged for eras to come.