Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Women Are From Pinterest, Men Are From Google+?

I’m sure you’ve all seen the gaudy statistics when it comes to the gender split of Pinterest’s following – anything ranging from 72% to a staggering 97% of its user base has been reported as female.

It begs the question, how is the ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ theory split across the other social media platforms – and why?

Facebook: The gender divide on Facebook is currently at 58/42 in favour of women, according to recent results. Women also spend more time on Facebook and engage more: uploading more photos, creating more status updates and providing more information about themselves.

Twitter: It isn’t particularly shocking, but users tweet at, and engage with females much more than they do males. Women tweet more frequently too, but when it comes to actual user numbers, it’s actually only a minor majority in favour of women: 52/48

Google+: Google+ is dominated by men (71%), mainly comprised of early adopters, engineers and developers. Furthermore, about 50% of Google+ users are 24 or younger.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn reports an even ratio of men and women — 49% — who use the site to connect with other business professionals.  However, men are more active users on LinkedIn (63%) because they see it as the most efficient way to network.

There’s already some patterns appearing in the layout of Pinterest, but it remains a fascinating case study in how it draws such a large number of women to its platform.

Combined with a stylised, yet simple logo and interface – Pinterest has tailored itself towards females as much as it possibly can, whilst being covert as possible as not to be too feminine. But subliminally, the signs are all there, as evidenced by its ‘About’ page.

Pinterest also retains a valuable level of anonymity that doesn’t require a large personal commitment to the community. Compare this with Google+, which is text-heavy and has a busy interface.

Entering a social network into the pool at such a relatively late stage, Google needed to exist on its own terms and merits. As such, while it offers a lot of interesting and unique innovations, it requires a deeper understanding in order to get the most out of its vast capabilities.

A Wired magazine panel recently pinpointed two core problems for females as “the way Google+ works, and the people who are on it” – research has shown that women much prefer to engage in predominantly female circles, a big reason for Pinterest being a huge opportunity for brands.

Looking at the statistics, perhaps unsurprisingly social media mirrors real life. Women (generally) prefer it for social experiences, while men are more likely to utilise it as a means to an end – and interpret that however you like!

What’s clear is that there’s currently a bombardment of digital noise, and little differentiation out there. We’re over-exposed when it comes to social media, as sharing has become a habit for us. As a result, the worth of a share has been diluted incredibly, despite the popularity amongst brands.

Humans value their privacy, it’s an innate trait amongst all of us and something that’s been compromised in recent times by the social network boom, the likes of Facebook interfering with this need by insisting that privacy is the pittance needed to gain access to its network.

As a result, what we’ll eventually see is new forms of privacy emerging, as we share things that aren’t important to us at all. Social is still maturing, and what we’ll likely see is each platform carves out its own niche or utility – much like the respective roles LinkedIn and Facebook currently play. It’s not to say there will be an agricultural-esque cull of irrelevant networks, but rather definitions will be a lot clearer – particularly in terms of gender. In this respect, perhaps Pinterest really is the future of social networking. Aiming for a gender-specific demographic is a brave business model, but with Facebook and Twitter being so gender-neutral, it certainly looks to be a sound one.

Fiona Menzies is managing director at gyro Dubai.

Originally published at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network

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