Social media posts written by opposite sex more appealing, study finds

People respond more positively to social media posts written by a member of the opposite sex even when they do not know the true identity of the author, according to new research.

Gender gap: There was less difference in response to posts written by men, the research found
Gender gap: There was less difference in response to posts written by men, the research found

A study by marketing agency Artios blind tested 1,000 UK adults using anonymised blank text from social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and then rated them on a variety of criteria, such as trustworthiness, approachability and friendliness.

It found 33 per cent of men responded positively to content written by women, compared with 28 per cent of women responding positively to the same content.

There was more positivity when subjects looked at content written by men, and less of a gender gap – 40 per cent of women responded positively to this content, compared with 38 per cent of men. In all cases, only the researchers knew the identity of the authors of the content.

The study included posts from brands, celebrities and politicians, and found that women generally responded more positively than men to all types of content, with women responding positively to 44 per cent of the content in the study, compared with 38 per cent for men.

Content from brands got higher levels of positivity (61 per cent from women and 50 per cent from men), as did posts by politicians including David Cameron, Douglas Carswell, Diane Abbott and Stella Creasy, with 45 per cent positive responses from women and 39 per cent positivity from men.

Posts from celebrities got the lowest level of positivity.

Facebook content was most likely to get a positive response, followed by Instagram, with Twitter in last place, the study found.

Andreas Voniatis, data science lead at Artios, said: "By presenting the content in plain text, absent of any social or personal context, we were able to get a different measure of its impact. Often, content that was well received in its original context came across negatively when participants didn't know the origin. Conversely, some content that was received badly at the time of publishing was received favourably when taken in isolation. One of the most interesting things was just how well brand posts performed overall."

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