Men are from Video Games, Women are from Social Networks

The
gender gap on social media is growing

It’s no
shock either that men and women act very different online. The web is an extremely social medium, with
Web 2.0 being all about social. Men traditionally
are early adopters, especially when it comes to tech, but when it comes to
social media, women are at the forefront.

At Rapleaf we conducted a study of 13.2 million people and how they are using social
media. While the trends among the sexes indicate
they are both massively using social media, women are far outpacing men – here
is our hypothesis as to why:

Just the facts, madam 

For those
under 30, women and men are just as likely to be members of social
networks. Sites like Facebook, MySpace,
and Flixster are extraordinarily popular. But we found that young women are much more active on these sites then
young men. And for people above 30, men
– especially married men – aren’t even joining social networks.. With the notable exception of LinkedIn usage and
VCs in the Bay Area friending everyone on Facebook, married men are not hanging
out on social networks. Married women,
however, are joining social networks in droves. In fact, women between the ages 35-50 are the fastest growing segment on
social networks, especially on MySpace.

Looking further
into this trend, we believe that young men spend as much time (and sometimes
more) in front of a computer than young women. And they have just as much free time, if not more. But we believe the
competition for their computer time comes from spending hours playing video
games such as World of Warcraft and many first-person action games.

Many men
who play casual games tend to like games like poker with betting involved. Since most social networks ban gambling, men
find sites (most of them offshore) that allow them to wager when they play. Women on the other hand are large consumers
of casual games and most social networks, especially those that are dominated
by third party applications, are essentially big casual game networks.  Young women also spend much more time
decorating their social network profile pages, making slide shows, and more. Popular sites such as Whateverlife.com
exacerbate this effect by offering and catering MySpace layouts to young women.

So while
young men and women are signing up for social networks at a similar rate, young
women are “throwing more sheep” at people.

Now young
men understand that they can’t spend ALL their time playing video games (though
some do) as they still need to interact with the opposite sex. Sex is one of the strongest drivers of
online usage and many men see social networks as a gateway to potentially
filling that desire. Men, in general, tend
to look at things more transactionally than women. Once men get married, they see increasingly
less value in being on a social network. Which, of course, is why married men dominate LinkedIn – the most
transactional social network (with the exception of AdultFriendFinder). LinkedIn is all about getting information and
introductions now.

Women, on
the other, hand are much more relationship driven and less transactional than
men. They spend more time on social
networks building relationships, communicating with friends, making new
friends, and more. Married women put up
pictures of their immediate family on social networks and use their social
network profile as a family home page to share with friends and relatives.

With all
this happening, we’re witnessing a burgeoning gender gap.

Just take
a look at RockYou and Slide, two dominant photo widget sites,  These sites are very clearly targeting young
women, down to the fact that they have traditional feminine colors (i.e. purple
and pink), glitter text everywhere, and are almost exclusively decorated with pictures
of women. They don’t even give men lip
service on their site. Both companies do
have a few niche Facebook applications that target men, but the fact these
applications are hidden and often marketed under different brands proves that
that women rule this space.

If you
are creating a new Web 2.0 site and you want to go viral, you target
women. Young women drive virality and so
all the new innovation is targeted towards them. That means that the gender gap on social
networks (and increasingly in all of social media) is only going to widen. More and more innovation will be targeted
towards women and they will continue to get more engaged. And while we expect men’s adoption to social
media to continue to increase, it will likely be slower than the rate of adoption
by women.

There may
actually be some truth in the old adage that “men are from Mars” and “women are
from Venus”, even in the online domain.

 

More: Data
from the Rapleaf study

 

14 thoughts on “Men are from Video Games, Women are from Social Networks

  1. john

    While reading this article, and I was struck that it probably was relevant to a social networking site, HumanBook, which has over 250 million profiles of people, including you, your friends, classmates and relatives.
    The HumanBook is a mutually managed people directory. People list their own real-life connections, and other connections they have awareness of, to create a lifelong network. The network houses the connections, and then the collaboratively updated address book nurtures them, assuring that they need never be lost. HumanBook is the tool that will allow you to cherish and sustain all of the connections of your whole life. So if you’re interested, go to http://www.HumanBook.com and find your profile today!

    Reply
  2. Carter F Smith

    Excellent points, which we covered in some depth in a chapter on the Gender factors in The Emergence of the Relationship Economy. Women absolutely “get” networking and social networking better than men do. I’ve seen the same thing with the asymmetric interaction in online adult college classrooms . . . the guys hesitate while the ladies lead the conversation!
    As we watch the transformation (shakeout) of the SN sites, I see a tendency toward focusing on specific sites, but in the future I think many of us will simply be using what was “learned” in these sites to just be more social — out in the open, on an Internet without walls. The people we relate to, the relationships we have with them, and the use of available communication tools are the keys to success in this space, not “the site.”
    And the gals will be showing everyone else how it’s done . . .

    Reply
  3. Raza Imam

    Dude,
    I avoided MySpace and Facebook forever because I thought they were just for teenage girls. I still think they’re just for teenage girls (or people who think they’re teenage girls) I do use Facebook, but umm, err, ah, only for business purposes.
    Raza Imam
    http://SoftwareSweatshop.com

    Reply
  4. Raza Imam

    Dude,
    I avoided MySpace and Facebook forever because I thought they were just for teenage girls. I still think they’re just for teenage girls (or people who think they’re teenage girls) I do use Facebook, but umm, err, ah, only for business purposes.
    Raza Imam
    http://SoftwareSweatshop.com

    Reply
  5. Christine

    Do Women Care More About Social Networks?

    Interesting snippet of the day: Auren Hoffman recently blogged about the growing imbalance between male and female participation in social networks. To boil it down, the most popular social networking sites – Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Plaxo, and H…

    Reply
  6. PH

    i’ve notice similar results, female friends and their daughters are the main users. dads and sons seem to less time on the internet for social purposes and when they do, have other internet pursuits

    Reply
  7. Lip-Sticking

    Telephone, Telegraph…Tell a Woman with a Blog

    People routinely ask me why I promote marketing to women online, rather than just writing a marketing blog. There is a movement afoot to drop the marketing to women label in preference to marketing to … your market. Which is, very likely, women and m…

    Reply
  8. Cyma Saeed

    So I am researching my blog on the web and I type the keywords men and viral together, I get hits from one viral marketing campaign after another. And then I type women and viral for keywords in the same search engine and the SERP is filled with hits on HIV/AIDS and the flu…and maybe a hit on some viral marketing campaign targeting women (more often than not Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign).
    Considering that successful viral campaigns are almost always emotional, not as many are targeted to women, or moms – now a power demographic. Even though latest statistics on social media usage show that more women use social networks than men, and they are online as much or more often and for longer than men. Women even play online games more than men do, because they don’t spend as much time as men on video games… except now Nintendo is trying really hard to get them hooked to Wii Fit. Nintendo has a new campaign targeting women, but they fear that they might “alienate” the core gamers, because – god forbid – they use any product that even remotely sends off a feminine vibe!
    Read the rest on my blog
    http://centsandcentsabilities.blogspot.com/2008/11/womit-for-women.html

    Reply
  9. buy ffxi gil

    It’s true that women are more on social networks than men. But today, even women play any kinds of games. Actually, I can’t believe that there are lots of female gamers now. If you will try to read some gamers blog or news, you will notice that girl gamers is on rise now. There are girls who loves playing World of Warcraft, FFXI, or any kind of games even if it’s console, online or others genre.

    Reply
  10. NCAA Football 11 Rosters

    This is different now.. Today, there are also female gamers who are also into social networking, while there are men who are also into gaming and do social networking.. But of course, still there are more male gamers than female..

    Reply
  11. John Baldwin

    I actually enjoyed reading this one. I didn’t know that women are dominating social media until now. What you said about RockYou made me realize that it really caters for young women because of the design. I’m planning to put up a website for business, and I’m still deciding on the contents and features. My target audience are actually all gender types. But the overall social network design of it will be handled by a team of consultants and specialists. I’m leaving those tasks to the experts in designing a social network. Development-related promotions and strategies are one of the main focus as of now for reaching the target market.
    Should we target women more on this project? You really made me wonder on that, dude.

    Reply

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