Thursday, January 6, 2011

Soccer-Mom Communication

Next time you’re on any of the social networks or your email, take a look at the differences in writing styles (linguistics). Who writes “softer” and who writes “harder”? Without sounding sexist . . . I bet you’ll find there’s a difference between women and men.

Gender differences are evident in the ways that women and men use email and other types of electronic forms of communication – such as social networks. For example, Susan Herring, a researcher at Indiana University, has found that in public electronic forums such as message boards, Facebook, Twitter, etc., men tend to make stronger assertions, be more sarcastic, and be more likely to use insults and profanity than women, while women are more likely to be supportive, agreeable, and polite.

David Silver, a researcher at the University of Washington, has found that women are more expressive communicators in the social media arena and encourage others to express their thoughts and feelings, while men are more brief and to the point.

Of course these are just general tendencies, evident in MANY women and men, not in ALL women and men. But before you go assigning someone as your organization’s social media writer/poster, take a good hard look at their writing and communication styles. The best choice may not be the CEO’s long-time male speech-writer. It just may be the soccer-mom admin assistant you just hired.

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