Women are the more active gender on most social networks. But not Twitter. In a study of 300,000 Twitter users conducted in May, Harvard Business School assistant professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and MBA student Bill Heil found that, while women outnumber men on Twitter 55 percent to 45 percent, and while both genders follow the same amount of Twitter users, men have more followers and reciprocal relationships than women do. “These results are stunning given what previous research has found in the context of online social networks,” write the study’s authors.
Men have 15 percent more followers than women, and have more reciprocal relationships (users following each other).
“On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women - men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know,” write the study’s authors.
Both genders are more likely to follow a man, even though both are just as active in tweeting.
This activity is radically different than other social networks, where “men receive comparatively little attention from other men or from women,” according to the report’s authors.
This is not the only way Twitter usage differs from other social networks.
The average user’s participation on the microblogging site is much less than on other socnets. Most users are far from active on Twitter.
“Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one,” write the report’s authors. “This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days.”
The top 10 percent of the most prolific Twitter users account for over 90 percent of all tweets, while on a typical social network site, the top 10 percent accounts for only 30 percent of content.
“This implies that Twitter's resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network,” write the study’s authors.