A global report from digital market measurement company comScore, found that social networking sites reach a higher percentage of women than men, with 76% of women visiting a social networking site versus 70% of men. Women spend significantly more time on social networking sites than men, with women averaging 5.5 hours per month compared to men’s four hours, demonstrating the strong engagement that women across the globe share with social sites.
Using May 2010 data, Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet reported that although women account for 48% of total unique visitors to the social networking category, they consume 57% of pages and account for nearly 57% of total minutes spent on these sites.
The relative importance of social networking varies across countries – reflective, perhaps, of overall cultural differences. However, no matter the region, women are consistently more social on the Web than their regional, male counterparts. Social Networking’s reach among women is highest in Latin America, where it reached 94% of females online, and in North America, where it reached 91% of females. Europe saw 86% of its female online population visit a social networking site, while in Asia Pacific, where parts of the region still face low broadband penetration and site restrictions, reported a 55% reach.
In the U.S., women are more active than men when it comes to socializing on the Internet. According to comScore nearly 56% of adult women say they use the Internet to stay in touch with people, compared to 46% of adult men.
Interestingly, the 45+ female segment is driving the greatest proportion of growth for social networking sites, for both visitation and time spent. Users aged 15-24 have the highest reach and the heaviest usage in this category. Meanwhile, older women have similar reach and usage as the women 25-34 and 35-44, with all groups spending a significant amount of their total online time on these sites.
Although men are in the majority across the global Internet, women spend about 8% more time online, averaging 25 hours per month on the Web. The divergence between male and female behavior in social network usage also becomes more pronounced in the older age segments – while male and female social networkers aged 15-24 have very similar reach numbers, in the 55+ age segment, their respective reach is separated by more than 10% points. For older women, social networking is a new frontier they are embracing; men are doing so to a much lesser degree.
The rise of social networking has prompted women of all ages to engage in a host of associated online activities, such as photo-sharing, gaming, video viewing and instant messaging. All of these activities have benefited from their linkage with social networking sites for their ability to attract new female users. comScore speculates that social retail, since it combines two activities that are already firmly in the mainstream of women’s Web activity, may be the next frontier in this evolution.
“Understanding gender-specific differences in Web usage is valuable to any digital stakeholder looking to successfully reach and engage both women and men in the online environment,” said Linda Boland Abraham, comScore chief marketing officer and executive vice president for global development. “We have seen that women across the globe share some similar usage patterns online, such as strong engagement with social networking sites, but it’s also important to understand gender differences on a regional, country and local level, where cultural differences are continually shaping online usage and content consumption.”