Men are retweeted more than women on Twitter. Almost twice as much actually.
As a woman, that fact intrigued me. I’m not the type to start screaming discrimination right away and take to the streets with banners demanding equality. Instead, I was curious as to the why.
Turns out, there’s a reason.
Why Men Are Retweeted More
As Twitter enthusiasts know, hashtags are Twitter’s contribution to the current social media jargon. A hashtag’s original person was—as the name implies—to ‘tag’ a tweet with a keyword. The idea was to make Twitter highly searchable and as such, help users find relevant tweets and people to follow.
I connected with a whole group of British youth workers through the hashtag #ywchat for instance. It was a simple, yet effective way of bringing people from all over together in a single passion: youth ministry.
Hashtags have developed however. If you follow any teen on Instagram for instance, you’ll have come across posts that contain little but hashtags. And these hashtags are often a confusing mess of both keyword, emotions, and random opinions. I can’t imagine anyone searching on ‘#my #life #music #singin #bible #church #friends’ for instance—the literal update of a former student of mine.
This is where it gets interesting however. It turns out that male Twitter users tend to use traditional hashtags far more (77%), whereas women prefer ‘expressive’ hashtags (59%). The latter express an opinion or emotion, like #happy, #grrr or #deadonmyfeet.
This difference shows up in the text of the tweets itself as well by the way. A study of tweets relating to hurricane Irene showed that women used words like ‘safe’ and ‘praying’, whereas men kept it much more factual with terms like ‘media’, ‘breaking’ and ‘Obama’.
Researchers have discovered that this fits a general difference in communication between men and women, which is also visible in blogging. Men tend to be more informational whereas women lean more towards diary-style blogging. Of course, this is a broad generalization. I run a youth ministry blog that’s highly informational for instance and I tweet a lot of factual stuff about youth ministry with some personal tweets in between.
Fact is though, that women’s tendency to be more personal and expressive and less factual and informative is hurting their chances of influencing others. Both men and women are more likely to follow men on Twitter for instance. And as mentioned in the beginning, men are almost twice as likely to be retweeted as women.
I guess the moral of this all is that women will have to adapt if they want to gain more influence. I suggest throwing in a few expressive hashtags with the more traditional ones. #winwin #womenrule
[HT Jessica Bennett, Why men are retweeted more, The Atlantic, June 2015| Image via Sprout Followers]