Battle of the Sexes: Social Media

February 15, 2018 Kathy Bryan

Social media platforms are rivaling to gain the most attention and users. Most adults in the United States engage on social media platforms. In the battle for usage and engagement, which gender is showing more love to social media channels? We dug into the data to find out.

In the early days of social media, the fight for audience segments was anyone’s game. Approximately the same amount of men and women were participating. In 2008, both genders exceeded the 25% usage mark. But female usage started to gain momentum after that point. In 2010, more than half of all U.S. women were engaging on social media. Men didn’t cross the half-point mark until the following year.

For the most part, women have remained more active on social media. As of last month, according to Pew Research data, women users are dominating with social media use at nearly 75% compared to just two-thirds for men.

Source: Pew Research Center Surveys Conducted 2005-2018


Facebook ― Keeping Friends Connected

Facebook usage is pretty evenly split between genders, but women start pioneering Facebook earlier than men. Not until age 45 does Facebook usage by men surpass usage by women. Marketers should take note that Facebook can help them effectively reach both genders.

Source: Statista, January 2018


Twitter ― The News Sharing App

Twitter is also popular with both men and women, with the exact gender split varying by data source. (Some say it’s more popular with women, others with men.) Frequency of usage skews higher for men for the app that is most commonly used by people who want to be alerted quickly to breaking news.

Source: Statista, October 2017


Instagram ― Focused on the Images

Though overall usage of Instagram is fairly evenly split between males and females, the dominant user group is women. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is more visually oriented. The platform largely appeals to those who want to see and share pictures and videos.

Source: Statista, October 2017


LinkedIn ― Delivering a Professional Lens

LinkedIn, the social media platform most focused on professional interests, skews toward male users. Interestingly, if you do a Google search for “LinkedIn by Gender,” you’ll get a long list of results related to the gender gap and how to close it. Each year, in celebration of International Women’s Day in March, LinkedIn shares information about gender equality. Last year, they also promoted the profiles of 10 female leaders.

Source: Statista, Fall 2015


Snapchat ― Appealing to the Youngest Users

When Snapchat originally launched, it’s differentiation was focused on the impermanence of the content people shared. Over time, Snapchat has expanded functionality to appeal to a broader base, and men have become more frequent users than women.

Source: Statista, October 2017

But it’s the younger audience (whether male or female) that is most attracted to Snapchat. Earlier this week, eMarketer announced that Snapchat will grow its under-24 user base faster than Instagram this year (while Facebook loses a significant share of that same audience).


Pinterest ― Not Just for Women, But Almost

With an almost two-thirds female audience, Pinterest has long been considered a social media platform targeted to women.

Females are most likely to be interested in the art, flowers/food, health/beauty and home/garden categories of Pinterest. Meanwhile, male use of Pinterest is more common for the entertainment and sporting goods categories.

Source: Statista, February 2017


For Social Media Success: Target Deeper than by Gender

Though this post focused on the male versus female use of social media, we want to remind marketers to target audiences using data far more granular than just gender. Having a female consumer base does not mean you should focus your brand presence to only Pinterest.

Before you launch or expand your social media campaigns, do your research. Look at the demographic, psychographic and behavioral characteristics of your audience. Find out what channels and platforms index highest for your unique audience. And develop messages that resonate and encourage engagement – especially for today’s social “pay to play” environment.

Here are some innovative examples of brands that used social media to successfully target their gender-specific audiences.


Mr. Clean ― Making Sanitary Conditions Sexy Across Platforms

For the 2017 Super Bowl, Mr. Clean appealed to its mostly female audience with trailer videos on Facebook and Twitter leading up to their commercial during the big event. The social media videos prepared audiences for the “Cleaner of Your Dreams” spot, garnering 11,700 mentions across social platforms in just one minute during the game.


Axe ― Influencing Young Men on Instagram

Most guys don’t style their hair regularly, according to an Edelman Intelligence survey, but those who do feel more confident. With this in mind, Axe turned 30 Instagram influencers into “Hair Creators” for a social media campaign intended to boost the comfort and confidence young men have in hair products. In an effort to “inspire guys to start styling,” influencers were given full freedom to engage their audience while using Axe products.


Microsoft ― Encouraging Girls & Women to #MakeWhatsNext

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs are historically unpopular for women, with only 6.7% of U.S. women getting related degrees. For International Women’s Day, Microsoft unleased a 90-second video asking girls and women to “Change the world.” Their #MakeWhatsNext hashtag has since been used by brands and individual social media users to promote the growth of women in STEM careers.


Dollar Shave Club ― Solving Men’s Problems for $1 a Month

When they first launched, Dollar Shave Club used viral videos on YouTube to target young adult men. Viewed more than 25 million times since, the videos explained how their blades are “F***ing Great” and tackled the issues of cost and forgetfulness. Just a handful of years later, Dollar Shave Club turned their viral success into a $1 billion Unilver acquisition.


Need Help Getting Your Social Media Campaigns on Track?

Click here to contact Team DMS. We’re experts at finding and targeting niche audiences.



Data Sources:

About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Media Solutions (DMS). In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS, the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers.

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