The gender of Twitter relationships

by on June 3, 2009 at 7:18 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women.
Men also have more reciprocated relationships, in which two users
follow each other. This "follower split" suggests that women are driven
less by followers than men, or have more stringent thresholds for
reciprocating relationships. This is intriguing, especially given that
females hold a slight majority on Twitter: we found that men comprise
45% of Twitter users, while women represent 55%. To get this figure, we
cross-referenced users' "real names" against a database of 40,000
strongly gendered names.

Even more interesting is who follows whom. We found that an average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman. Similarly,
an average woman is 25% more likely to follow a man than a woman.
Finally, an average man is 40% more likely to be followed by another
man than by a woman. These results cannot be explained by different
tweeting activity – both men and women tweet at the same rate.

I read that on Twitter from…a woman whose tweets I follow.  I don't know who she is or, for that matter, how I ended up following her.

Andromeda June 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

I wonder if there’s any kind of celebrity effect here (I’m thinking of a friend I know with a mutual interest in cycling, who follows Lance Armstrong, Cadel Evans, and probably every other ProTour cyclist he can think of, all of whom are male…) I’ve heard of celebrity women on Twitter too (Claire McCaskill), but I’ve heard of a lot more men, and you would expect celebrities to have a lot of followers. (Then again, you wouldn’t expect them to have many reciprocated relationships, but there’s no reason the reciprocated and the widely-followed have to be the same…)

Some fascinating stuff on the clickthrough, though.

So: why should (or shouldn’t) I get around to joining Twitter?

Chris Masse June 3, 2009 at 10:28 am

“men have 15% more followers than women”

Spammers are more male than female. Spammers on Twitter follow a lot of people (thousands) in the hope that some of these people will follow back —and swallow their spam.

Laura June 3, 2009 at 11:48 am

IIRC, Men generally have higher use of social capital, and this study (http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/4/2/6/9/p242696_index.html) finds men use social networking for weak ties moreso than women, who use it for strong ties. So, Twitter is perhaps a good way to establish weak ties compared to, for example, Facebook.

Rama June 3, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Great comment by Melpomene above.

Twitter just seems to be a lot of tweet for twat.

Rama

outsider June 3, 2009 at 4:41 pm

I think it’s that men are more comfortable communicating in 160 characters or less.

Kat June 4, 2009 at 8:42 am

I’m not likely to follow people I don’t know well if they’re mostly talking about their personal lives (what do I care if a stranger burned the popcorn or signed up for a 5K?), but I will follow strangers if they post about projects, news, or specific subjects. If men do more of the latter it would make sense that they’re more widely followed; you don’t have to be part of their close social circle to be interested.

philosoraptor June 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm

There are (big surprise!) some methodological questions that people smarter than I am have raised. Fred Stutzman devoted an entire post to discussing ways to redo the study so that it’s more robust: http://fstutzman.com/2009/06/04/rethinking-twitter-and-gender-differences/

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