Monday, May 19, 2008

Who does Social Networking better -- guys or gals?

According to a recent Rapleaf study, while both sexes still use social networking sites in huge numbers, women are the ones holding down the fort. I have known that the ladies "get" the social part of social networking (and online learning interaction) a heckuva lot better than us guys. Auren Hoffman will help convince you . . .

He suggests we should expect social networks of the future to cater to women and alienate men.

Rapleaf conducted a study of over 30 million people to see how they're using social media. While the trends indicate both sexes are using social media in huge numbers, their findings show that women far outpace the men. They predict that this gender gap on social networks (and increasingly in all of social media) will only widen with the next wave of innovation.

The study included mostly what was referred to as Social Networkers (those with 1-100 friends), about 13 million in all, or 80% of the sample. They found that in this group

  • Women have on average 62 friends.
  • Men have on average 57 friends.
  • Women are more likely to be "Social Networkers."
Do these findings support those of Schler, Koppel, Argamon & Pennebaker - Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging, which found that male bloggers write more about politics, technology and money, while female bloggers discuss their personal lives – and use more personal writing style?

It appears that they do.

As we noted in The Emergence of The Relationship Economy, there is good reason to think that networking comes naturally for women. Traits that are considered feminine in our culture , like cooperating, building relationships, helping, and developing others, are not surprisingly also those necessary in (effective) networking. Traditional male traits like directing and controlling get nowhere in networking, and may get you blacklisted in social networking (Forret and Dougherty, 2001).

For both men and women, success in networking depends on understanding and capitalizing on our individual strengths, and supplementing individual strengths with the strengths of those in our networks. The connectivity afforded by online social networking provides many opportunities for improved relations.

In The Relationship Economy, everyone has the opportunity to win, but maybe the guys will have to ask for help.

What do you think?

Responses here are always welcome (actually requested), and if you have a LinkedIn account, please take a look at the responses of others there.


Forret, M. L. and Dougherty, T. W. (2001). Correlates of networking behavior for managerial and professional employees. Group & Organization Management, 26(3), 283-311.

Hoffman, A. (2008). The Social Media Gender Gap. Business Week, available at

Schler, Koppel, Argamon & Pennebaker (2005). Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging. Available at


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia Ora Carter.

An interesting statistical ratio 62:57 in favour of women, though I wonder at it's significance given the closeness of the figures. I'm not suggesting that the difference is not statistically significant here.

Hoffman suggests we should "expect social networks of the future to cater to women and alienate men". To convince me I'd need some other information that implied a difference of less than 10% between the gender groups would lead to one causing the alienation of the other.

I'm willing to keep an open mind about this but for me, at least for the time being, the jury is out.

Ka kite

carterfsmith said...

I agree on the jury being out for research purposes, but there's a lot of gals networking their way . . . and it seems to be effective from what I can tell.

Dexrex said...

In my part, women play a big role in social networking. they have the looks that can attract bloggers especially men.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with this, i did a similar post on the gender difference in social networking.

The comments i got varied as the different topics ppl use social network in tend to differ for genders. Tech social networking sites are mainly make dominated while females dominate other areas.

But in general, i do agree with the results you've posted. Excellent stuff.

women networking said...

This really makes a lot of sense. Women depend on social groups much more than men, and you almost never see a site completely dedicated to men, but there are tons devoted to women networking.

carterfsmith said...

women networking - in our book about the relationship economy (e-book available at we devoted a whole chapter to this. I'd love to hear if you think we got it right!