Men and Women, Sharing and (Not) Sharing Alike

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus … so says John Gray’s best-selling relationship book. While some would contest this popular notion, the age-old question of how different their content-sharing tendencies are has been settled. And I don’t even think it’s been a question that women share more than men on social media. (They most certainly do. And we already knew this, though we have some new numbers to support it, namely, 40% to 23%.)

Mars-Venus-Blüherpark

Yes, men and women are on different content-sharing planets, according to some interesting new data from Apester. Its analysis of 250 million monthly interactions on major online publishers illustrates the differences between what gets shared on male-oriented websites vs. female-oriented websites.

What men want
The new research says content aimed at males will be more share-able if it is newsworthy, short, and debatable. Furthermore, their easy topical favorite is sports, followed by world affairs. Some of this should come as no surprise: Men love to debate (especially sports) in bite-sized portions. Look at the runaway success of ESPN’s ‘First Take’ or ‘PTI.’

Personally, while I think the newsworthy and debatable elements are fine, I wonder if the ‘short’ part further reinforces the idea that men are shallow. At the very least, maybe these data suggest our news-sharing habits are shallow, which anybody who has a Facebook feed can attest to. However, I’m skeptical as to whether men are any shallower than women when it comes to the type of news shared. In general, TV-fueled (and now Twitter-fueled/YouTube-fueled) news consumption attracts—and is attracted to—the least common denominator. Sensationalism rules the Web, in news publishers or the social media sites where news is shared and commented on.

What women want
As for the planet Venus, when turning to Mel Gibson’s question of what women want (to share, that is), content needs to be: Well, we’re not exactly sure from this study because it explicitly focused on men. I’ll boldly infer a couple things, though. Besides sharing more freely, they don’t care as much about sports. They don’t gravitate toward the controversial as much due to their traditional cultural roles of peacemakers who keep quiet and try to avoid ruffling feathers. Society tends to reward women for being quiet and men for speaking out. The simplest classic gender stereotypes are playing out here. Along these lines, perhaps more emotional language would be preferred, as men were found to champion ‘minimal emotional language.’

So, for maximum share-ability among the ladies, stay tuned for a female-oriented publisher or otherwise savvy market researcher to assemble the authoritative answer to that question. Maybe Cision, who previously found women engaging with brands more than men and hunting for deals on social media. (That’s a free idea for some highly share-able content. Are you listening, Cision people?)

Men, women and quizzes
Another interesting note is men liked shorter questions on their most popular online quizzes … on average 7 words to the women’s 9 words. (Wait, do men even share online quizzes? Oh, I guess there’s some of you out there.) They also favored those with a shorter range of answers. Apparently, a laconic Hemingway bias for men’s verbal style can be found in even something as trivial as online quizzes. Fewer words for the men should be expected because on average they are biologically oriented to have weaker verbal faculties than women, which stems from the evolutionary fact of having shorter tongues. In fact, as Tonya Reiman points out in The Body Language of Dating, this built-in disadvantage has them using fewer words per minute and leads to smaller average vocabularies.

The big content marketing lesson
The even greater lesson here that marketers can apply to any audience is the enduring power of having a documented content marketing mission statement. When you know exactly who your audience is, you improve your chances of getting heard and shared. You boost the likelihood that a reader converts because you are actively engaging that reader. Conversion comes from making a conscious choice not to please the masses, but rather appealing to a narrower audience in order to maximize your brand’s reception.

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Photo courtesy of SchiDD via Wikimedia Commons.

Paul Richlovsky

About Paul Richlovsky

Paul brings a writing and teaching background to his decade-long marketing career. He advises clients on content strategy and editorial direction. He is an enthusiastic marketing automation practitioner and active member of the Cleveland Marketo User Group. He has written/edited multiple marketing guides, including those aimed at healthcare, higher education, financial services, B2C brands and manufacturing audiences. With a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, "Under the Lunar Neon."He is particularly interested in usability, digital governance, ballroom dancing, bachata, racquet sports, and romping with his niece and nephews.

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