Social networking sites reach a higher percentage of women than men worldwide, and across leading social sites, such as Facebook, women are more engaged—consuming more pages and spending more time—according to a new study from comScore.
On average, women spend 30% more time on social networking sites than men; moreover, 75.8% of online women visited a social networking site in May 2010, compared with 69.7% of men.
Moreover, women are more engaged than men with social networking sites: Though women accounted for 47.9% of total unique visitors to the social networking category in May, they consumed 57.0% of pages and accounted for 56.6% of total minutes spent on such sites.
Below, other findings from the comScore report, How Women Are Shaping the Internet, which provides an in-depth analysis of the female Internet user by Web activity, world region, and digital channel.
Social Networking Reach by Region
Social networking's reach is highest among online women in North America: 90.3% of them visited a social networking site in April 2010, followed by online women in Latin America (83.6%) and Europe (83.4%).
By contrast, 87.7% of online males in North America visited a social networking site during the period, followed by those in Latin America (81.8%) and Europe (87.7%).
How Women Spend Time Online
Social networking sites now capture the greatest share of all women's total time and attention online (16.3%), followed by instant messaging (11.3%) and email (7.7%). By contrast, men spend 11.7% of their total online time using social networks, and slightly less time using instant messaging (10.4%) and email (6.8%).
The index value (above chart) indicates the relative degree by which women are more likely to spend time on a certain category compared with men. Indices over 100 signify categories in which women spend more than their "fair share" of time online, whereas indices below 100 signify categories in which women spend less than their "fair share" of time online.
The 45+ female segment is driving the greatest proportion of growth for the social networking category in both visits and time spent. For older women, social networking is a new frontier they are embracing, whereas men are doing so to a much lesser degree, comScore finds.
User activity on Facebook mirrors the social media category itself, with a comparable female skew in reach and use, including no significant drop-off among older groups:
Twitter: Broad Appeal, but for Different Reasons
As a communication mechanism, Twitter is attractive to women. But it's also a relatively new technology, and is therefore typically attractive to, and adopted earlier by, men.
Globally, women now slightly outpace men in the adoption of Twitter, but those levels vary greatly by region and country. For example, in Australia and Singapore, the rate of adoption among women has significantly outpaced adoption by men, but in the US and UK adoption rates are slightly higher among men.
Women and men use Twitter differently:
- Women are more likely than men to use the site to find deals and promotions (16% vs. 14%), converse with others (18% vs. 16%), and follow celebrities (18% vs. 14%).
- Men are more likely than women to post their own Tweets (38% vs. 29%), use the site to find breaking news (23% vs. 13%) or product reviews (17% vs. 11%), and follow sports teams (15% vs. 8%).
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On average, women spend 20% more time on retail websites than men. Though women and men of different ages visit retail sites at roughly the same rate, women's time spent on such sites is much higher across all age groups.
In the US, women drive a disproportionate amount of online spending: Though comprising just under one-half of the Internet population, they account for 58% of e-commerce spending.
In February 2010, 12.5% of US online women made a purchase online vs. 9.3% of men.
Women also out-shop men in every retail category, except for computer hardware and software; electronics; sports and outdoor gear; and music (though to a lesser degree):
- Women surpass men in every age group in both reach and time spent on photo-sharing sites. In North America, 63.0% of women visited a photo-sharing site in April 2010 (vs. 57.3% of men).
- Women generate a smaller share of online activity in the mobile space, probably because they are less likely than men to own a smartphone (40% vs. 60%) or have an unlimited data plan—two key drivers of mobile Internet use. Social networking is a key driver of women's use of the mobile Web, according to the study.
- Community and lifestyle sites, traditionally aimed at women, continue to attract the female audience, especially sites with parenting, food, and home-related content. Health sites also continue to attract primarily female audiences.
About the data: Findings are from comScore's Media Metrix data, compiled from February to May, 2010.