More women are now online and women are using social media sites in greater numbers, for longer periods, and in different ways to men. Women are also leading the shift to mobile-led browsing and purchasing.
Your business needs to be thinking about these shifts if it’s looking to engage with women online.
Using a gender neutral tone in your social media content may seem like the safest bet in terms of hitting the largest possible number of social media users without alienating anyone, but what it might be doing instead is simply presenting a message that fails to connect with either a male or female audience.
This is why it’s so important to be thinking about how your branding is presented across the different social media networks. Of course gendered branding can be a problematic concept and needs to be approached with a nuanced understanding of the various other possibly significant segmentation factors (income, ethnicity, rural/suburban/city, etc) that come into play when creating an ideal identity for the type of audience you are attempting to address.
However, what we are seeing with social media use is that certain networks are becoming more favoured by one gender over another, and this gives marketers an opportunity to drill down into their data for each of these networks and vary the style and tone of their content.
According to the annual Sensis Social Media Report, published earlier this year, younger women use social media more than any other segment of the population on the internet. To quote the report: “Females and younger Australians (below 40) remain the most prolific social networking users with much greater proportions in these segments using social media per se and more frequently than others.”
But if you dig deeper into the Sensis research (which focuses on Australian internet users), you find that women are more dominant on Pinterest, Instagram and (interestingly) Google Plus, while men are more prevalent on LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the most popular social site, with 92% of all men and 93% of all women who use the internet also on Facebook.
Move away from the all-conquering hegemony of Facebook and you see some very interesting disparities between male and female use of the other social networking sites:
- LinkedIn: 35% of male internet users versus 21% of female internet users
- Twitter: 23% of males versus 12% of females
- Pinterest: 8% of males versus 25% of females
- Instagram: 22% of males versus 29% of females
- Google Plus: 21% of males versus 24% of females
- Snapchat: 14% of males versus 15% of females
- Tumblr: 6% of males versus 4% of females
Some of the gender-based difference between these sites can be accounted for to some extent by the fact that women are more inclined to follow brands and interact with the social media content presented by those brands than men.
In fact, according to this piece on Brandwatch: “we discovered that women are more likely to interact with brands via social media than men.”
“More than half of women use social media to show support and access deals or promotions from brands, compared to just 36% of the men online.
“Not only do women use social media to stay up to date with brands, they also comment on their favorite brands more than men do.”
So if your social media strategy has been focused on presenting a gender-neutral message without looking at the gender splits on the networks where you have a presence, then you might be wasting your time and resources. The data is available to make your brand message better targeted to either men or women.
Of course, this is all dependent on your brand message, but it’s time to start thinking seriously about how that brand message is presented across the social media spectrum, and about whether you need to vary the content (in terms of style, voice, tone) that supports that message in line with the social media networks you use.
Using a gender neutral voice on all your social media offerings might not be the best way to go about reaching your target audience, whether that is men or women.
Fi Bendall is CEO of The Bendalls Group, a business that leads STRATEGY : ADVOCACY : MOBILE delivering the business acumen to drive effective positive results in a disruptive economy for the C-suite. Fi has recently won a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence award. See more at: http://www.bendalls.com.au/