The rise of "bro social" -- Dudes are reluctantly sharing more

By Erin Griffith and Michael Carney , written on November 12, 2013

From The News Desk

The myth that men don't share on social media may be changing. Anecdotally, at least, "bro social" is the latest rising tide in social traffic, according to Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of College Humor, Ben Lerer, CEO of Thrillist Media Group, and Allen DeBevoise, CEO (soon-to-be former) of Machinima, who spoke on a panel at the Business Insider Ignition conference today in New York.

Social media networks trafficking in content sharing have long been dominated by women. The majority of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram users are women, for example. Men make up the majority of Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube’s audiences, which aren't exactly big drivers of traffic for lifestyle content. (LinkedIn does wonders for business content, though, but only if its editorial team shares your story.)

The tide appears to be turning, even if bros say otherwise. According to Ben Lerer, CEO of dude-centric Thrillist Media Group, his readers tell him in focus groups that they don't share things on social media. But the numbers suggest otherwise.

"We're seeing that shifting from a traffic growth percentage," he says. "I'm not exactly sure why, because I hear people raging against that – not wanting to share, and raging against Facebook in some situations. But their behaviors don't match up."

So bros are adopting Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand? Not so much. Facebook outpaces Twitter by a margin of ten to one as a source of traffic for Thrillist's sites, Lerer says. Van Veen echoed that statement, saying, "We see nothing from Twitter. It's all Facebook."

Tapiture CEO John Ellis offered a similar analysis when reached by email today and offered the stats to back up his claims. The Pinterest-like social curation site's audience of 1.9 million monthly uniques is 75 percent men. They racked up nearly 70 million page views in October. And they aren’t simply browsing and consuming content – they’re interacting with and sharing it in ways that support Lerer and Van Veen's conclusions. Bro social in action.

Tapiture has more than 2.5 million pieces of content on its site curated by users, 1 million of which have been added in the third quarter. A whopping 500,000 were added in October, Ellis says. “On average, each piece of content is re-tapped or liked an average of seven times and shared socially to third-party networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. three times per tap.”

So if men are actively curating and sharing content on these social platforms, why are they denying it? It may be a matter of perception. Speaking in wide generalizations, before the era of social media, social behaviors like chatting on the phone, sharing photos, writing about yourself in a diary, or sharing shopping tips, carried a stereotypical female association. Perhaps guys prefer to think of themselves as more macho than that.

Not for long, though. Women may have adopted social sharing faster, but men are catching up.

It helps that the above sites – CollegeHumor, Thrillist, Machinima, and Tapiture – trade in stereotypically manly currencies. They’ve used dude-approved topics like partying and video games as bait men into socializing on the Web. Ellis notes that the kinds of things men tend to share are different from that of women – they still won't talk about their feelings. Guys are more likely to share products, news and funny videos, he says. "It’s rare you’ll find a general status update about how they’re feeling on any given day."

Ellis would not disclose specifics around financial impacts of male social shopping, noting simply, "I assure you that male purchasing behavior is also influenced by social sharing and engagement.” Good thing, given how important that premise is to Tapiture's business model.

The tide has shifted toward male social sharing. Bros may not be ready to admit as much, but actions speak louder than words. For sites targeting men, this is welcome news. Let the online bromancing continue!

[Image via gentlemansgazette]