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."
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 http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2008/tc20080516_580743.htm
Schler, Koppel, Argamon & Pennebaker (2005). Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging. Available at http://lingcog.iit.edu/doc/springsymp-blogs-final.pdf