Many studies have shown that it’s a woman’s world on social media. According to the Pew Research Center, among internet users, women are significantly more likely than men to use Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram than their male counterparts. This poses a problem for marketers that are trying to use social media to reach new male audiences. The research is less damaging for social media marketers as some may think. This post will explain the research, show marketers where to find male audiences online, and how to use this information as part of a comprehensive marketing plan.
The 2013 Pew Research Center study examined the users of several of the more popular social media networks and used the data to show the gap between male and female adoption of the platforms. This can be more confusing that people may realize at first, so an example will help to clarify what was being researched. The Pew study showed that 72 percent of all women online and 62 percent of all men online have Facebook profiles. This is different from measuring the percentage of males and females on an individual platform; where, according to research from 2012, 64 percent of Facebook users are women and 36 percent are men.
The Pew study gave the percentage of men and women online who had accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, and Pinterest (note: Google+ wasn’t launched until the end of 2011 and this longitudinal study started in 2008; thus accounting for it’s noticeable absence from the data). Though the difference varied among the social networks, there is an average 8 percent gap between the percentage of online women and online men who are using social media. In some cases, like Pinterest, the difference is extreme. One out of every four women online (25 percent) have a Pinterest account, for men, the rate is one in every 20 (5 percent). The only exceptions to the trends were Twitter (Men: 18 percent, Women: 17 percent); Reddit (Men: 8 percent, Women 4 percent) and Tumblr (where both genders have about 6 percent). The study also noted that in just five years, the percentage of online adults using social media sites jumped from 26 percent to 72 percent.
The first thing to keep in mind about this research is that it doesn’t say that men aren’t on social media. So using social media marketing to reach male audiences works, it just takes a little more effort. However, marketers should be sure to research the various social media networks to see which is truly best for their target audience. As was mentioned earlier, women dominate Pinterest membership, so while marketing to men on Pinterest isn’t a total waste, the best possible reach one could hope for is 5 percent of all online men. It would make more sense to use Facebook, where 62 percent of online men have an account.
Additionally, it’s important to produce content that will be engaging to the target audience. A 2005 Pew Internet study stated, “Compared with women, online men are more likely to use the internet to: check the weather, get news, get do-it-yourself information, check for sports information, get political information, get financial information, do job-related research, download software, listen to music, rate a product/person/service through an online reputation system, download music files, use a webcam, and take a class.”
While the data from Pew Research is a little dated, it still serves as a good primer for topics and angles marketers may want to consider. By considering what kinds of things men like to do online, marketers can produce better marketing messages and advertisements. And more importantly, it shows what kinds of sites would be good targets for PPC ads or guest blog posts. Even if men are underrepresented on social media, they are still online, and a comprehensive marketing strategy will make it possible to reach them.
So for marketers trying to reach male audiences, there is no reason for despair. Even though women dominate social media networks, there are more than enough men on them to make social media marketing a good avenue for reaching new customers. Along with the advanced targeting tools that some platforms make available for promoting content, reaching the specific male audience a business needs can be easy and cost effective. Marketers must also remember that men use the internet differently than women and that any marketing campaign that specifically targets men should use a comprehensive approach of social media marketing, traditional internet advertising, and a content marketing strategy that focuses on providing useful information to target audiences.