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Costa Report – Social Media Usage Differences Between Men and Women

Rebecca Costa: I want to take a moment to find out what’s new in technology from the CEO of Alvarez Technology Group Luis Alvarez. Welcome to the program.

Luis Alvarez: Hi Rebecca. How are you today?

RC: I’m good. How about yourself?

LA: You know, I’m doing really well. Today, I want to talk a little bit about social media. You know, we’ve talked about social media in the past, and we’re going to talk about it in the future. It’s just a whole new paradigm.

RC: You can’t get away from it.

LA: You cannot, especially now, during the Olympics. It’s, like, social media all the time. Well, I ran into some really interesting information about the contrasts in use of social media between men and women, on a website called Mashable, that I wanted to share with you. Have you ever gone to Mashable.com?

RC: I haven’t. I’ve never even heard of it.

LA: Oh, it’s terrific. You’ve got to check it out. It provides some really interesting information about Internet use and, especially, social networking.

RC: So, social media’s always a hot topic, but I think you were saying that there’s some difference between how men and women are using social media, and I thought that was interesting.

LA: Yeah, absolutely. For example, overall, women outnumber men by 56% to 44% in the use of social media, which most people wouldn’t know, especially on Twitter and Facebook where they dominate, representing about 60% of those users. Men are more heavily involved in LinkedIn, which is a more professional-, career-, business-focused social networking site, and something called Reddit.com, which is a social news site where users can create their own news feeds and customize a news front page. Men generally represent about 60% of those users. But where women really dominate, however, is in something called Pinterest.com, which is a really innovative social media site where women and men can share things that they find on the Web by pinning those links to a page and then letting people have access to those links. The fact that women use Pinterest by close to 80% has not been lost on advertisers. Companies that cater predominantly to female consumers have been really actively involved with Pinterest, such as Martha Stewart’s websites, which get more traffic from Pinterest than they do from Facebook and Twitter combined.

RC: Wow. I mean, that’s some great vertical market segmentation. You know, it seems that women are making their presence known on social media. Based on what I’m hearing you say, it looks like women tend to be attracted to sites that might be more social, where they can share with friends and family. Men might be a little more focused on business-related sites. I don’t want to be sexist, but it looks like the data tends to spin that way.

LA: Yeah, that’s definitely one conclusion you can draw from the data. Women are significantly more active on social networking sites overall, racking up more than 99 million more visits per month than their male counterparts … and sometimes in surprising ways. Take online gaming. When you think of someone playing an online computer game, what picture comes to your mind?

RC: I guess the stereotype is an introverted teenage boy, barely out of puberty, maybe awkward around girls. I mean, isn’t gaming kind of a male pastime?

LA: Well … that’s what most people think, but you’d be surprised to hear that women represent over 55% of the online gaming community and over 60% of users of the online games produced by Zynga, you know, Farmville and those guys. One of the most popular multi-player online games is something called “World of Warcraft,” which has over 10 million active users. And it’s been around since 2004, so it’s not something that’s just showed up. WOW, as it’s called in shorthand, as the name indicates, is an online game where people adopt characters – called avatars – and fight each other. You know, you have your wizards, your knights, your orks and all the usual mythical suspects, and users form teams to go on quests, which usually include a lot of blood and gore. And, again, not to be sexist, but you would think that would largely appeal to men, and it’s true. Seventy percent of the players are men, but the other 30% are avid female players who love the game. So, women are making their presence known in cyber space, especially on social networking.

RC: So, has that presence translated into new opportunities for women in technology? You’d think that all that interest in social networking would create some new career opportunities.

LA: Yeah. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Yeah, there’s a tremendous gender gap when it comes to technology jobs like developers and programmers. Women make up only 20% of the roles out there. You can really see the gender bias, though, reflected in online games like “World of Warcraft” where you see many of the female avatars as scantily clad, buxom caricatures with no real relation to real life. You know, not the way women see themselves but, mostly, like those teenage boys we talked about see women. But there’s a huge opportunity there. As people who run these online sites come to the realization of the economic opportunity that women represent. I think folks that put together Pinterest.com, for example, get it, and they’re creating a site that’s appealing to women. Having said that, there’s a problem. Young women generally aren’t attracted to these kinds of technology jobs, even though they pay well and are in extremely high demand.

RC: Mm-hm. Well, as always, I can’t thank you enough for taking time to stop by and talk about social networking. And as you pointed out earlier in this segment, that we’re going to be talking about social networking until, you know, we’re 90 years old because it’s not going away, and it just gets to be more and more part of the fabric of commerce in the country and in the world. So, we look forward to hearing from you again next week.

LA: Well, thank you. This is Luis Alvarez of the Alvarez Technology Group reminding everyone that when it comes to technology, forewarned is fore armed.

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