Men's strong online groups offer marketing possibilities

A recent survey found that men are more likely to feel as strongly about their online communities as their offline communities, than women. The study of 2,000 households, comparing the online habits of men and women, ages 12 and up, was conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

In the news
A recent survey found that men are more likely to feel as strongly about their online communities as their offline communities, than women. The study of 2,000 households, comparing the online habits of men and women, ages 12 and up, was conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future. Additional findings were that men spend more time online (outside of work) than women, and that while women spend two more hours each week than men reading books in print, men spend an hour and a half more per week reading magazines, newspapers, and books online.

Why does it matter?
Michael Gilbert, senior fellow at USC's Center for the Digital Future, says Web use patterns are shifting and people are increasingly finding importance in connections formed in niche online communities, especially among young Web users.

“Women put more value and are more focused on their offline traditional relationships, and as a result they don't find the online world quite as compelling or quite as interesting as men,” he says.

Rick Murray, president of Edelman Digital, says the findings shouldn't drive an entire PR strategy, but that pros should consider using an online-driven strategy, like a micro-community to connect and engage with men. However, “Offline is still incredibly important when you're trying to connect with women.”

Murray wonders if the findings will hold up with the influx of young people who spend so much time online.

“My sense is that the Gen X-ers and Millennials are actually quite interested and engaged and committed to their online relationships, and... read a lot less... traditional media,” he says.

Five facts:
1. While 60.3% of men feel as strongly about their online communities and connections as their offline communities, only 47.4% of women do, the USC study found.

2. The study showed that 45% of Internet users said the Web was “important” or “very important” for maintaining social relationships.

3. A survey by the Pew Internet & American Life project found that 21% of 18- to- 29-year-old Internet users believe the Web has improved their ability to meet people.

4. The Pew study also found that 33% of Internet users believe that the Web has improved their connections to friends “a lot.”

5. Women, aged 25 to 54 with at least one child, are 25% more likely than the average user to write a blog, according to a October 2008 research from Nielsen Online.

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