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Summary:

A recent survey of social media use by Liberty Mutual shows that men are more positive towards and use social networks more frequently than women, but this conclusion is the exact opposite of the gender breakdown that several other surveys based on user-profile data have reported.

Updated: Men are more positively inclined towards social media activities and use social networking sites more than women, according to what Liberty Mutual called a “comprehensive national survey” of online behavior it released yesterday. This is somewhat surprising, since it’s the exact opposite of what other surveys have found, including a recent one from Royal Pingdom that looked at user profile data from some of the major social networks. Among the findings in Liberty’s survey, which was done as part of the Responsibility Project:

  • Men (57 percent) are more likely than women (50 percent) to have more than one social networking account.
  • With the exception of Facebook, men are generally more likely than women to use social media accounts at least a few times per week, particularly Twitter. For MySpace, the breakdown is 35 percent of men vs. 26 percent of women; LinkedIn is 25 percent of men vs. 16 percent of women, and Twitter is 53 percent of men vs. 38 percent of women.
  • Dads are more likely than moms to have a MySpace account or a Twitter account, at 43 percent vs. 29 percent and 50 percent vs. 32 percent, respectively.

The Royal Pingdom survey, meanwhile, found that of 19 social networking sites studied — including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Bebo — the majority (84 percent) had more female than male users. The exceptions to that rule were social news sites such as Digg, Reddit and Slashdot (the latter had 82 percent male users). Twitter and Facebook, meanwhile, were found to have the same proportion of male and female users — 59 percent and 57 percent respectively. The most female-dominated site was Bebo, with 66 percent female users, closely followed by MySpace and Classmates.com with 64 percent each. Royal Pingdom said the average ratio of all 19 sites was 47 percent male and 53 percent female.

Royal Pingdom’s numbers are very similar to those produced by others who have studied the issue, including Brian Solis, who put together some numbers on male-female ratios at different social networks and concluded that “In the World of Social Media, Women Rule.” So what explains the discrepancies between Liberty Mutual’s survey and the others? It could be as simple as the difference between what people say they do and what they actually do — since Liberty asked people how many networks they belonged to, whereas Royal Pingdom and others used actual data from people’s profiles. Liberty Mutual’s survey was also based on a relatively small sample size of just 1,000 people. I’ve emailed the company to ask for a comment, and will update if and when I get one.

Update:

A spokesperson for Liberty Mutual responded via email and said that the survey went out to a random sample of the population that was reflected the gender breakdown of the U.S. — 52 percent women, 48 percent men. Respondents were also screened to ensure that they had at least one social media account.

“We did not focus on the findings of how many women versus men on each network, but rather looked at data AMONG women on each network compared to data AMONG men on each network. And that is the analysis where we found men to be more active (with the exception of Facebook) – that is, more likely to say they use each network at least a few times a week, not necessarily more likely to have those accounts.”

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Why NewNet Companies Must Shoulder More Responsibility

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Wili Hybrid.

  1. The discrepancy is usually the definition of what social media actually is!
    I mean, isn’t GigaOM social media too?

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    1. That’s a fair point, Werner — we certainly like to think of it that way :-)

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  2. I use social media very much..my sister doesnt even know whats it all about :P

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    1. My wife don’t care either.

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  3. I spend more time using social media applications than my wife, and use them to aggregate way more information than she does. I also produce a lot of unrequited information. Yet she interacts with individuals via SM way more than I do.

    So I understand that a good starting question is who uses SM more. But I think these studies need to delve into behavior to come to any bigger conclusion.

    It’s like, among families, who on average makes more money, mom or dad? (dad) Ok, among families who decides how the bulk of that money is spent? (mom)

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    1. That’s a good point — I expect that men and women (or at least some men and women) may use social media and social networks very differently.

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  4. I think that men in professional fields are more likely to use social media for more ‘professional’ reasons, like recruitment and networking, whereas women use it more to connect with friends, family, and co-workers on a personal level.

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  6. [...] Who Uses Social Media More, Men or Women? – [...]

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  7. [...] of men and women online.  To check out the details of the two surveys check out Ingram’s blog at http://gigaom.com/2010/03/04/who-uses-social-media-more-men-or-women/. [...]

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