There do not appear to be many studies yet into gender differences when it comes to influencer advertising. Indeed this is an academic field that has huge potential for future research. However, there have been quite a few studies on the differences between the sexes when it comes to other types of marketing, as well as clear differences when it comes to their use of social media. Therefore it isn’t too hard to come up with fairly realistic observations as to how men and women may respond differently to influencer advertising.

There are clear physical differences between male and female brains. Women tend to have a thicker corpus callosum (the bridge of nerve tissue connecting the two sides of the brain). This leads to women finding it easier to use both sides of their brain to solve problems. Men mainly use just the left side of their brains. This left hemisphere performs logic computations and processing facts. The right hemisphere is the main section that processes visual imagery and interpreting context. This physical variation explains a number of the differences in the ways the sexes think and choose to go about their daily lives.

How Men and Women Respond Differently to Advertising

Millward Brown carried out a study to determine whether there are any differences in the ways that males respond to advertising compared to females. While this study concentrated on reactions to television ads, rather than online influencer advertising, it does give a good general insight. It is not too much of a leap to assume reasonably similar gender reactions to influencer advertising –, particularly video posts.

Overall Both Men and Women Give Similar Responses to Advertising

PMYB influencers

Perhaps surprisingly, considering the “brain-wiring” differences, the Millward Brown study found little difference in the ways that the genders respond to advertising. They scored respondents in terms of enjoyment, active involvement, branding, news, credibility, difference and relevance. Males and females had very similar scores for each category.

Millward Bell also looked at how people reacted emotionally to particular ads. Respondents could express a range of positive emotions (attracted, excited, confident, content, affectionate, surprised, proud, inspired). Alternatively, they could express negative emotions to the ads (repelled, inadequate, sad, annoyed, hatred, disappointed, guilty or unimpressed).  Again, while there was a huge variation between particular emotions, with happiness and satisfaction being the most common emotion expressed, there was little variation between the sexes.

Differences in Types of Ads Preferred

Despite there being so little difference in overall responses and emotions, there were some clear differences in the types of advertising preferred.

The biggest difference comes with humour. Men showed a clear preference for humorous ads, particularly spoofs. Women were less inclined to respond well to such ads.

Another visible difference came with the general ad style. Men preferred ads made with a distinctive creative style. On the other hand, females preferred ads that depicted a slice of life.

Nielson Research found additional differences between the sexes when it comes to advertising (at least for the Millenials participating in their research). The study also pinpointed a male preference of humour, being slapstick, edgy and sarcastic humour. They discovered males love to see “normal guys” put into exaggerated situations. Females still liked some humour though, as long as it was silly, off-beat and not mean-spirited.

Millenial males were also attracted to action-oriented, competitive scenes. Perhaps that is why Red Bull has performed so well with its action-adventure advertising focus in recent years.

Women have more aspirational tastes, particularly where they can see women depicted in strong positions. They like seeing happy situations with people to whom they can relate.

Are There Similar Patterns With YouTube and Facebook Videos?

With the Millward Brown study focusing on television ads, the nearest type of influencer advertising occurs on YouTube and Facebook videos. Are there any gender differences between the types of videos people create for these platforms?

Anu Vedantahm carried out research on Gender Differences in Online Video Creation at the University of Pennsylvania. While the bulk of his research focused on differences in making videos – there was a clear preference by males for video-making – one section looked at the use of humour in videos. Males had a clear preference for including humour in videos they produced over females. One of the females surveyed even commented: “guys in my age group just have that mindset to able to see something funny or comedic in anything [and] make something of it.”

This survey also indicated that males are more influenced by the technical qualities of the videos. The results indicate that males place a higher value on the quality of video editing shown by a particular online video.

How Men and Women Differ in Purchase Decision-making

There is a common stereotype that women love spending money on frivolous items, like the latest jewellery and shoes.  Studies show that this is wrong, however. Any influencer advertising that works on this assumption is unlikely to be successful.

One study by Dr Gurvinder Shergill and Yiyin Chen (Massey University) found that women are very price sensitive. They often know where to hunt for a good bargain. Nielson research in 2013 produced similar results. Women are often bargain hunters who chase down discounts and the best prices.

Research by Zip Realty Inc. also discredits a popular stereotype. It found that women are the more practical shoppers. They found that men tend to go by appearance, luxury and comfort. However, they found women have more practical wishlists, for example, must-haves for their dream home.

Research by Mercy Mpinganjira at the University of Johannasberg (2014) disagrees with this to some extent, however. She found that there are two main shopping motives:

  1. Practical – shopping to get something done
  2. Hedonic – shopping because you love it

Mpinganjira found that women are mainly hedonic shoppers – and if you want to engage them with your advertising you need to create an emotive shopping experience that will resonate with them. Men, on the other hand, are mainly practical shoppers, who really only want you to tell them why they should buy your products.

The Q3 2012 Nielsen Global Survey indicates that men are more goal-oriented in their buying. When men shop they are determined to find what they are looking for – even if it means that they have to pay a higher price. Women, however, take more notice of discounts and promotional news (62% of female respondents, compared to 57% of males). This ties in with well with the research on differences between how males and females use their brains.

How Men and Women Use Social Media Differently

Mena dn women influencer advertising gender

Influencer advertising is, of course, heavily dependent on social media. Are there any differences in the ways males and females use their social media accounts?

Pew Research has collected data about American social media usage over the last few years. Their most recent report is their Social Media Update 2016.

1.      Facebook

Facebook is still the dominant social media platform, with more than double the reach of any other platform. 79% of internet users operate a Facebook account.

There is a clear difference between the genders, however. 83% of online women use Facebook, compared to 75% of online males.

2.      Instagram

32% of online people use Instagram. The biggest difference in Instagram usage is by age – it is very much a young person’s social media channel.

There is still a marked difference in Instagram usage by gender, however. 38% of online women in the USA use Instagram, compared to just 26% of men.

It is probably not surprising, therefore, that many of the most successful Instagram influencer advertising campaigns are in predominantly female niches, like fashion and beauty. A while back PMYB detailed why almost every fashion brand has an influencer marketing budget, particularly an Instagram influencer marketing budget.

3.      Twitter

Pew’s 2016 survey showed that 24% of internet users use Twitter. Interestingly there is far less of a split between the genders on Twitter. 24% of online men and 25% of online women reportedly operate a Twitter account. Twitter is the ideal place to target millions of your target market quickly using Social Amplification services.

4.      LinkedIn

LinkedIn is particularly popular with college or university graduates and high-income earners, of both sexes. It has higher usage than Twitter, with 29% of U.S. internet users reporting they have used the platform.

There is some difference in usage between the sexes, possibly reflecting the fact that males still receive on average a higher annual income than females. 31% of online males use LinkedIn compared to 27% of females.

5.      Pinterest

Pinterest is the social network with the largest variation between male and female users. It has been stereotyped as a predominantly female channel for years, and Pew Research’s findings concur with this. 31% of all online users claim to operate a Pinterest account. However, 45% of women admit to using the virtual pinboard, while only 17% of men do.

Reasons why People use Social Media

Nielson’s 2013 studies show clear differences between how the sexes operate their social media accounts.

According to the research, men often use their social media accounts for business reasons (27% males, 22% female) and dating (13% male, 7% female).

Areas where females outnumber males are staying in touch who friends and family (65% female, 53% male), blogging and uploading / sharing (28% female, 23% male), entertainment (48% female, 45% male), and how-to information (27% female, 30% male).

ads women ignore

A poignant point for marketers from Nielson’s studies is that more women (59%) ignore mobile text ads than males (52%). They found similar results for social media ads, with 48% of women ignoring obvious social media ads, compared with 42% of men. This is another reason why businesses targeting women should adopt a more subtle approach of influencer advertising.

Facebook studies show that their female users tend to share more about personal issues (e.g. family and relationships). Men,  however, share more on abstract topics such as politics.

We can’t necessarily read into this that females have less interest in these abstract topics, though. One reason that females share less of such posts is that they receive far more abusive comments than males do. A Twitter experiment showed that a (male) journalist who made the same tweets both as himself and impersonating a woman’s account, received substantially more offensive comments when tweeting as the woman.

Implications for Influencer Advertising

YouTube Gender differences

When you look at the differences between the sexes in terms of reactions to advertising, purchasing decision-making, and usage of social media there are some clear implications.

Many of the top influencers have a higher female following simply because of the niches they operate in and the social media channels they choose to focus on. With fashion being of most interest to females, it is almost inevitable that the bulk of fashion influencers are female. The fact that they utilize the more visual social media channels, such as Instagram, which have greater female followings adds to this. Women, on a whole, seem to enjoy observing models. It is more common for men to only look at clothes when they need to buy some new attire, however, females tend to do so for enjoyment according to the research collected.

How should your Influencers Target Different Genders?

As a result of the studies, brands targeting women should probably focus on increasing the awareness of the enjoyable lifestyle associated with products. Firms targeting men would do best to provide more goal-orientated content that highlight the benefits of products.

gander differences in influencer advertising

In many ways, the differences can be best summed up in the above image from Social Media Psychology. If you want your influencers to appeal more to women their posts should:

  • Connect with people
  • Be on the more visual platforms
  • Focus on personal issues
  • Contain more emoticons
  • Feature portrait photos

If you want your influencer advertising to appeal to men, then their posts should:

  • In some way help the reader to find information
  • Be in the more text-based platforms
  • Be about abstract topics
  • Contain longer words
  • Feature full body shots

If this is a lot to take in then don’t worry, or if the things mentioned in our articles are of help. Contact the team at our influencer marketing agency, so you can be assured that your influencers are targeting the right people in the right place using the right methods.


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