Marketers have always had a very bifurcated landscape when it came to advertising: reaching men versus reaching women. Advertising is nearly as old as humanity itself, and savvy sellers realized early that women’s dominance over the home in centuries past meant they likely to make more purchasing decisions than men.
By and large, television advertising today is aimed at women: household products, clothing, vacations and even family cars are purchases that have traditionally been dictated by women, with marketers focusing their efforts on men in only a few categories: sports cars, beer and liquor and men’s toiletry products.
Today, marketers continue to be challenged by gender differences when it comes to reaching male and female audiences, but their difficulties have been compounded as the landscape has expanded to include social media. In recent years, as we observed the explosion in social media usage, no one spent too much time and effort to learn if men and women used social media differently. Few companies spent much effort learning how Americans used social media when it came to interacting with brands or purchasing.
That was then, and this was now. Recent research (there’s a helpful infographic below courtesy of Finances Online) has found that men and women use social media very differently, so it’s important to understand this before embarking on marketing via these channels.
More than half of social media users are women today, and women seem to prefer the more visual channels such as Pinterest. (The only channel men use more than women is LinkedIn, and men and women use Twitter at about equal rates.) In fact, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram are dominated by women over men by most double-digit figures. Women consume more news than men via social media, and they are more likely to share news items with others.
For marketers, however, the truly important difference is the way in which women act with brands in social media. When it comes to showing support to a brand, 54 percent of women who go online have done this (versus 44 percent of men), 53 percent of women have accessed special offers (versus 36 percent of men), 39 percent of women use social media to stay current with brands (v 33 percent of men) and 28 percent of women have used social media to make a comment with a brand (v 25 percent of men).
Even more interesting is that women are more likely to use mobile devices to interact with social media than men. The differences in accessing social media by smartphone is small – 46 percent for women and 43 percent for men – but when it comes to tablet use, differences are far larger. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of women reported using tablets to access social media versus only 20 percent of men.
For marketers, this is compelling information. Women are more willing to interact with brands via social media (and not only to complain, though women are more likely to do that via social media, too), and they’re more likely to do it via mobile device. For up-and-coming social marketing channels such as location-based marketing via mobile devices, women may be a ready-made audience just waiting for brands’ best efforts.