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Social code: Girls rule social media, while boys just follow

by | Jul 11, 2017 | Public Relations, Social Media

Bars have had it figured out for ages—a ladies’ night will bring in the guys. When girls are there, guys have an incentive to hop on the bandwagon. While this has always been the case in the real world, the same phenomenon has increasingly made its way into the digital world as well.

There is no doubt that social media has changed the way we interact with each other—it has affected the way we attend events, define relationships and almost every other social convention imaginable. As such, it comes with an etiquette all its own. When we look at who is shaping the rules for digital social conventions, all signs point to young women. Our research has shown that guys are just as likely as girls to have accounts on a variety of social networking platforms—however, their level of engagement on these platforms and overall love for them is significantly lower. Females are much more ravenous in their consumption, and many actually profess love for the social networking brands they frequent, while guys are much more passive participants.

According to Open Mind Strategy’s quarterly Youth Tracker survey, conducted among 1,000 Gen Z and Millennial consumers (aged 13-35), Snapchat and Instagram both appear in the top five brands (across all categories—not just apps or websites) for Gen Z females. For their male counterparts, no social network even makes the top 10. While Facebook is still the dominant network for Millennials, gender still impacts the intensity of the connection—it is the number five most-loved brand for females, but just manages to make the top 10 for males.

Gen Z femmes post and post and…

Regardless of which platform they are using, the survey shows that young women are significantly more likely to post status updates, opinions, share photos, write comments and even to “like” something than the young men. Eighty eight percent of Gen Z females say they have “liked” something on social media in the past month, versus fewer than three quarters of guys their age.  Gen Z females are also 60 percent more likely than their male counterparts to share details about their lives, 42 percent more likely to have shared a photo that they took and 26 percent more likely to have commented on something.

Even when it comes to less personal stuff, such as following brands on social media, Gen Z girls significantly outpace the guys. In the last month, 42 percent of them have followed a brand, compared to 35 percent of the guys.  Millennial males and females follow similar patterns with certain female social media engagements surpassing male engagements considerably. Almost half of millennial women have shared details about their lives on their socials versus less than a third of millennial men. Additionally, women 20-35 are 32 percent more likely to share their photos than men of the same age, and 23 percent more likely to post comments.

When asked qualitatively about their passive nature on these platforms, guys often respond by explaining that they’re in a constant state of recalibrating the ins and outs of a system that doesn’t exactly belong to them. Even though they know they must have a social media presence to have any kind of social life, they are unsure how to act because they are afraid to break etiquette.

Guys often post, and even like pictures, at the behest of a female friend or romantic partner, but when they don’t have exact instructions, actively engaging is more stressful than it’s worth. Are they allowed to post a picture with a friend who is a girl, or will their girlfriend get mad? Do they have to delete old pictures with exes? Can they hashtag a party that another friend wasn’t invited to? They see their female counterparts reaction to a myriad of social faux pas and want to avoid being the cause of those reactions, even if it means taking on the role of observer rather than participant.

While social settings may change from sitting on bar stools to sitting in front of a screen, guys are still taking cues from the girls on where to go and how to act. As followers, we can’t expect them to be as actively engaged as the ones making the rules.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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