This weekend, Brittany Darwell of Inside Facebook broke a story that Facebook is testing a Pinterest-like interface to populate its news feed. The significance of this is two-fold: Pinterest’s users are near-exclusively female (with estimates as high as 97%, but probably somewhere between 60 and 70%) and Facebook’s dominant gender is female (at slightly over 50%). Facebook wants to become an even more welcoming place for women, but why would they do this?
A couple of reasons come to mind: women spend more time on social sites and are more likely to be persuaded to buy something online than men. This strategy is smart, is congruent with their initiatives to increase the effectiveness of their advertising (third party app monitoring, @facebook email integration, mobile ads, brand co-opted posts), but is at the same time less caustic than many of the other things they’ve attempted. Oh, and in case you missed there was some positive press this weekend about the effectiveness of Facebook’s mobile advertising, so there indications that Facebook is making progress to remedy their most evident weakness.
Quite the opposite, Google Plus (and its 70% male / 30% female user ratio) seem content to stay the course. An unfortunate report came out last week saying that Google Plus users are more satisfied than any other social network including Facebook, who received one of the lowest ratings in the survey. Because the size of the networks are so disparate, one hopes that Google doesn’t see a survey like this as validation of their course.
Google Plus needs to do much more to increase their users with key social consumers (women). Facebook seems to understand this much better than Google right now, so it will be interesting to see how the changes will be received when rolled out and how users react. For all the negative press that Facebook has received of late, they seem to be making some pretty smart moves. Hopefully Google takes notice.