‘Differentiate Facebook ads for men and women’

Marketers looking to use Facebook to influence consumers’ purchase decisions have been warned to ensure they execute their ads and pages depending on whether they are targeting men or women after a study found marked differences in gender responses to marketing messages on the social network.

Facebook male female

About one in five people (22 per cent) have been influenced to buy a product or service after they saw an advert, conversation or other information on Facebook, according to research commissioned by Marketing Week and conducted by online survey company Usurv.

Conversely, a quarter of people (26 per cent) have also been put off buying something after seeing a conversation or information on Facebook.

The ways in which men and women are impacted by brands or conversations about brands on Facebook largely echoes how the different genders typically shop, according to Usurv’s co-founder Guy Potter.

The study found that women are more likely to be impacted by friends’ likes comments or shares about a product or service, with 34 per cent saying this was most likely to influence their purchase decisions, compared with 26 per cent of men. Women tend to ask their friends for advice about products more than men, the study found.

This suggests that brands that place adverts with a social element, such as Facebook’s Sponsored Stories format, and those that keep an actively engaged userbase on their Page are more likely to resonate with women.

Men’s purchase decisions, on the other hand, are found to be more influenced by official channels and information posted by the company itself or an independent expert than women.

Potter says this infers that while activity from friends is still the most important factor for all users, brands looking to target men should consider packaging up their ads and Facebook posts as “expert advice” or a series of facts in order to resonate with the male audience.

Once consumers have bought a product or service, both men and women said they were most likely to post about it if they were very satisfied (39 per cent). Just one in five (20 per cent) of participants said they would post to Facebook if they were dissatisfied.

Usurv sampled 1,000 people in the UK with a 50/50 gender split using its online self-service tool that sources participants through its partner digital publishers’ registered users.

Separate pieces of research from the University of Illinois and UK ad agency Creative Orchestra released last week found that advertisers are alienating men and women because they continue to use outdated stereotypes in their marketing, such as unrealistic depictions of hyper-masculine men and “women chatting around a kitchen table”.

Brands’ sectors will also affect the importance of influence on Facebook, according to Amy Kean, head of consumer innovation at MPG Media Contacts. This is especially apparent when comparing spaces like female fashion, which a natural topic of social conversation amongst female friendship groups, compared with the tech or automotive industries where facts and expert advice are “essential”, she adds.

Paul Armstrong, head of social at Mindshare, says gender is “an interesting dimension” for brands to consider but stresses that timing, eye-catching icons, pictures and clear calls to action are all also key to success when planning content and ad strategies on Facebook.

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