Women are natural social networkers; indeed the stereotype of “chatty” women (false as it is) suggests that the world of social networking is a natural place for women to go online. And you wouldn’t be wrong.
A new analysis of more than 50 million social networking members shows that women love social networking – up to a point. In the under 24 age bracket, women outnumber men in most social networks. Indeed, on MySpace and Facebook there are almost twice as many women under 24 as men.
But look at the figures as you go through the age groups. Gradually women are dropping out of their “natural” home of social networking. By the time you get to the 45-54 age group, men are outnumbering women. So are older men more sociable than older women? Or are younger men just not interested in chatting online to others?
My guess is that the older women have discovered over the years that there is more fun to be had doing other things than chatting seriously about things that probably don’t matter. Visit social networking sites and you’ll find the middle-aged men are often discussing “important” matters like the economy, gadgets, football and so on.
It’s the old alpha male scenario in action. Men attempt to become the “Silverback” of their group. For gorillas this is done as a result of the elder male gorillas using dominant behaviours. For human males we do our posturing in groups of other men, establishing our importance by the contributions we make to the weighty topics of the day. And frankly, that just bores women – indeed it bores many men as well.
The chances are that those younger women in social networks – and there are millions of them – are also unlikely to connect with those boring old men. Gosh they are behaving just like their fathers – yuck!
What does it all suggest? That social networks will forever be divided – in much the same way as men go down the pub with their mates and women have a “girly night” at home. It’s a stark reminder that if you want to truly connect with your audience online you have to understand them. Once again, those middle-aged, fuddy-duddy business men are revealing how little they know about women. If they understood them, they’d stick around on these social networks to engage in the conversation.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+