I feel like I’m on dangerous ground here.
While I can postulate to why this statement may/may not be true for women, it requires a comparison to men. Freud said at the end of his life that women were the dark region of psychology and he’d never really understood them. Let it be known that I do not profess to understand men anymore than Freud understood women, (but I think I am making some safe assumptions regarding the way men socialize despite this) and as such consulted a handful of gentlemen in the office before writing this to ensure I wasn’t completely out in left field.
First, what is social media? Remember this very memorable image brought to us by Jess3 & Brian Solis about four or five years ago? It would have suggested that the sheer number of avenues we had to be “social” was vast.
Yet even five years ago there were really only a handful of platforms that promoted the kind of interaction we now accept as social. I’d argue that past and current social media platforms tap into and leverage actions that have always been more aligned to the way women naturally interact than the way men do.
Women have 55% more posts on their walls than men.
Women have always been more inclined to see sharing as social—sharing might be defined as telling a personal experience, giving an opinion or disseminating information across a network of people. Men on the other hand, have gravitated toward “doing” as being social. My take is that men are oriented to the live, in-person experience and don’t relish the notion of creating an “online” social community, hence, social media is far more utilitarian to them.
No doubt, the “manliest” brands on Instagram still have a follower base that reflects their brand position and a content strategy that resonates with what men want to receive from them, but it would be interesting indeed to pit Madden or UFC or Red Bull against MAC, Forever 21 or Target to evaluate a true measure of engagement. One parallel that encapsulates the “doing = social” is multi-player, real-time gaming. The average guy has the ability to congregate online with their buddies, and most either opt to play with unknown players to create their team, or invite their buddies over to play live.
Among top 50 brands’ followers on Instagram, 53% are women.
Now keep in mind, these are sweeping generalizations. There are most certainly times when guys reach out to a buddy because they need advice or to rant, but it usually isn’t a 2-hour dialogue over wine with six other guys there weighing in with their opinion. Concurrently, there are women who cringe at the notion of gathering with the hens to talk through the latest relationship disaster, or pick apart the perceived or real flaws of celebrities strewn across magazine covers and online tabloids.
So, is social media becoming a chick thing? If we consider the pure facts, men and women declare equal use of the platforms. However, it isn’t just about membership or passive use, the platforms, people and brands that use them need engagement. The nature of social media has and still now more closely aligns to how women are wired and delivers benefits and rewards that appeal more to women than men. So no, I don’t think it’s becoming a chick thing. I’d argue that it’s always been a chick thing and guys, well, you’re pretty much ok with that.