Women Dominate the Social Web

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In an article on TechCrunch, Aileen Lee, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers explained that “When it comes to social and shopping, women rule the internet.” This is a lesser known fact, but one that holds true when understanding the growth of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, and Pinterest. A number of studies (by the likes of Comscore, Neilsen, MediaMetrix and Quancast) have shown that women are the movers and shaker s of the social web. Comscore reported that women are the titans of social networking sites, spending 30% more time on sites than men. According to Nielsen, in mobile, women are 55% of the users. There are a number of e-commerce sites that directly look to leverage the power of women on the web, but even more widely used social social sites such as Facebook, Zynga, Groupon and Twitter are dominated by women.

Sheryl Sanberg, COO of Facebook, has explained that women dominate Facebook: they participate in 62% of the activity in terms of messages, updates and comments, and 71% of the daily fan activity. Women also have 8% more Facebook friends than the average man, and they spend a great deal more time on the site, too. An early Facebook member even noted that women were the key to Facebook’s early success; women were posting to walls, adding photos and joining groups much more actively than their male counterparts.

This female phenomenon holds true when we look at Twitter. Despite Twitter being known as a technie (in other words, predominantly male) destination, women follow more people, tweet more, and on average have more followers than men. Bloggers Dan Zerella and Darmesh Shaw have researched these gender dynamics.

In many ways, these findings are not so surprising. At the end of the day, women are thought to be more social, more interested in relationships and connections, and better at multi-tasking. Robin Dunbar, a social anthropologist, came up the Dubar Number after finding that the one person can maintain around 150 stable relationships at once. However, this number differs between men and women -women are able to maintain more relationships and in a more intimate matter.

Cameron Marlow – the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, and that women tend to have more friends than men. Since the number ranges so much it can’t be proven. What IS proven is the likeliness of women to be more social than men. On average, a man with 120 friends will respond to around seven friends by posting on individual’s photos, status messages or “wall.” They will directly communicate in e-mails or chats with only four people. Women will respond to ten, and will directly communicate with six. Obviously the number is a bit higher the more friends a user will have. For a user with 500 friends, men will leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men will directly communicate with ten, and women 16. Net-net, the Dunbar Number is audience to which users will broadcast their inner lives. However, there will always be a smaller circle where communication is strongest.

At the end of the day, a strong women presence is key for the success of any internet company. This has been proven time and time again using case studies of various internet companies that are leaders in the social web (Facebook being the most prominent example of this). Essentially, women are the gatekeepers to a sites popularity, this is an empowering message. Keeping this in mind, companies have to strategically figure out how to market to women. Technology is often labeled as “masculine,” so it’s ironic that success is tied to women. If more women were aware of the message Aileen Lee was trying to get across in her TechCrunch article, perhaps there would be more female entrepreneurs.

-Michelle (socialnetworkingwomen.org)

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