Social Media and Gender: What the Stats Can Tell Nonprofits (or Not)

by Carol Buckheit on May 21, 2012

Any nonprofit communications pro worth their salt will target media messages toward a well-defined audience.  So, when it comes to choosing tactics– particularly if one’s target audience leans heavily towards one gender– it behooves one to know the demographics of the “typical” users for social media tools.

Think about it: You’re a charity that runs support programs for breast cancer survivors, or a nonprofit that supports fathers’ involvement  in their kids’ lives. Which social media channels will you use?

Here’s what the stats tell us about the gender breakdown for U.S. social media users.*

Facebook: 55% female, 45% male

Twitter: 55% female, 45% male

YouTube: 50%  male, 50% female

Google +:  71% male, 29% female 

Pinterest: 82% female, 18% male

Tumblr: 51% male, 49% female

Word 52% Female, 48% Male

Check out the eye-popping numbers for Pinterest (overwhelmingly female) and Google + (men dominate). But here’s the biggest whopper: note that women are driving two of the two largest social networks in the world–Facebook and Twitter–leading bloggers like Douglas Idugboe to opine that “Women are Taking Over the Social Web.”

So, that’s where you’ll tend to find men and women in the social media space. Perhaps it’ll help guide your choices if you are choosing a tool, say, to help grow a gender-specific online support community.

But those data likely won’t tend to inform nonprofit marketers on the specific kinds of content that each gender likes. Why not?

I love Johanna Blakley’s TED talk on “Social Media and the End of Gender,” suggesting that the tired old simplistic stereotypes about what groups “like” will soon be ushered out the door, because on social media people don’t connect with each other based on age, gender, race, income, etc. Instead, we connect based on shared interests.  Watch:

Amen to that.


Photo: “Iris” by A Silly Person, 1/3/11, Flikr Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Generic License 

*Data Sources: 

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube: The U.S. Social Media Audience in 2011, by Alex Salta and Mark Malseed, Oct 13 2011,

Google Plus and Pinterest: Online MBA reported in Social Demographics: Who’s Using Today’s Biggest Networks, by Alissa Skelton, March, 2012,

Tumblr: Tumblr Numbers: The Rapid Rise of Social Blogging,  by Laura Hockenson, 11/14/11,


In collecting demographic data on gender, only Google + allows folks to select “male,” “female” or “other.” (They also allow users not to display their gender identity on their profile if they’d prefer.) Since the roll-out of Google + did not include brand pages, it seems that adding “other” included brands as well as those with varying gender identities. My research, however, did not uncover a source that included data for “other” on Google +.

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