Where are the boys online? Well besides the obvious suspects (sports, games, porn) They are hanging out on Foursquare and other geo-location sites by a 2:1 ratio. Meanwhile, on our Facebook page, women outnumber men by the same ratio.
Of course, Foursquare isn’t nearly as popular as Facebook but there are some interesting takeaways about lifelong male/female behavior that the Internet can’t change!
Foursquare is a location-based social media forum where people check in online whenever they physically visit a real location. They may comment or simply check in. Many companies marketing on Foursquare offer tangible rewards for frequency whether it’s free drinks or free merchandise. But the biggest reward, apparently, is earning Foursquare’s “badges” and ultimately becoming “Mayor” of a location—an election of sorts for high frequency visitors.
Facebook is an entirely different community where the reinforcement for participation is in communicating with others who share your interests, friendships and activities. People don’t get rewarded for being on Facebook although marketeers avidly promote contests and other incentives to create more engaged consumers. Facebook is the amped up, 21st century version of the old telephone “party line” where people are encouraged to “share” with others.
Foursquare’s male thrust may be its reward system which offers increased status for frequency without requiring commitment. The concept’s a little more macho, akin to an animal marking his territory. Also, there may be a natural hesitance for women to declare their real time location for safety concerns of stalking or robbery. At least, that’s what the women we talk to say. Guys don’t worry as much about the personal threat of revealing their whereabouts. Not to mention the stereotype that men are more competitive and Foursquare promotes competition by awarding badges and mayoraltyies to high frequency participants.
Facebook, on the other hand, rewards the reputedly feminine traits of “sharing” and communicating. Women respond to helpful videos, cute kids and cuter pets. The language Facebook chooses to describe its service has a decidedly female bent, don’t you think, e.g. “Fan” or “like” me? (You really really like me as SallyField so famously gushed).
I did a little googling and found some interesting confirming data to what our internal statistics showed. The Pew Internet research folk who constantly monitor online behavior, published a piece in the fall of 2010 showing exactly the same 2:1 ratio of men using location-based services like Foursquare. And a writer for The Economist blogged in 2011 about “The Secret Sexism of Social Media” in which she noted: “At this year’s SXSW festival held in March in Austin, I ran into a social-media wonk from New York and asked him how he had been enjoying it. He said it was great: he had won five badges from Foursquare…. securing the mayorship of his hotel’s pool. It occurred to me that I have yet to hear a woman brag about getting a badge from Foursquare, and that I never will. In fact, come to think of it, I barely hear women mention such services at all.”
After a lifetime of fighting sexist stereotypes, I shouldn’t be surprised to see that the sexes still divide along the Mars & Venus axis.
There’s a lot of funny lines waiting to be penned about this finding. But I’ll leave it to you to write them. But for those of us who make a living in marketing, it’s helpful to know where the boys (and girls) are.