I work for a company that writes software for tracking online marketing, and I find the entire industry fascinating - I think that the fact that for the first time, you can directly measure the impact your ads have (how many people view an ad, how many people click on it, how many people actually buy something from you after clicking, etc) I think is revolutionary. No focus groups, no surveys, no trying to correlate ad campaigns with increased revenue, etc. And I feel like we're just starting to be at the point where this data is being mined more heavily as a resource for things like cultural and sociological studies, rather than just to make people money.

Today I came across this study recently done, looking at how companies use gender in their Facebook posts and promotions - first looking at whether or not companies are more likely to use men, women, or both in their online promotions, and then looking at how people responded to ads of men versus women, and they found some pretty fascinating things. I would definitely read the whole article, but some key things they found:

  • Companies are far more likely to use women in their online Facebook posts (63% of all posts were photos of women - 20% were men only and 17% were men and women combined)
  • Posts of women only were more likely to be "Liked" by users on facebook than pictures of men or men/women were BUT
  • Post that showed photos of men only were more likely to be "Shared" by users on face book than pictures of women or men/women.

So what does this all mean? The study itself hypothesised that the reason may not actually be that people are more likely to respond to gender in this way, but that companies themselves tend to use men and women in very different subject matters. Women were used mainly to shill product, whereas men appeared far more often in posts that had some sort of substantive meaning (you know, like these guys). So your post from Macy's about a dress on sale would have a woman in it, and you click like if you like the dress, where as your post from Macy's about 9/11 has a male soldier in it and you're going to share that rather than just like it, because it expresses some sort of feeling.

Essentially, these companies (the full list of those they analyzed is in the original article; I'd love to hear your thoughts on if you think this might be a biased sample of companies) view men as the correct bearer of important or meaningful messages, whereas women are far more likely to be portrayed as desired objects. In Facebook marketing, the "Like" is considered a lower form of user engagement than a share is - Likes are great, but Shares mean that the person liked it so much they want to share with everyone they know and the user is then essentially marketing for you. So in this instance, photos of women get a ton of light engagement, whereas the photos of men engage people more heavily and are important to the brand.

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Thoughts, feels, criticism? I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK, JEZZIES!

I leave you with my favorite comment so far on the study, by a precious little nihilist that has found the solution to the battle of the sexes is just get rid of them period:

"We have found that using the product only in posts has resulted in higher engagement than using people in the image."

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P.S. I'm also happy to answer any random questions about online marketing you have or any of the terminology on the page or what these people are looking for/trying to do with this type of knowledge. I like my job a lot. And if I'm writing about it to you guys... its almost like I'm actually doing it like I'm supposed to be, right? RIGHT?