According to Osnapz only 16% of the top 200 Foursquare users in the world are female.
In London, where I’m based, that figure is 17%.
Now, it’s only early days for Foursquare (and Gowalla), and this isn’t the most robust data, but nevertheless, this should still be cause for some alarm.
And it should concern any brand that is considering adopting any GPS-based social networking activity in the immediate future.
However, Foursquare is the one I want to particularly focus on via this post as it continues to be earmarked as the next big thing in social networking / media.
Female adoption across other social platforms
According to a study by Information is Beautiful (via Niemanlab.org) in October 2009, more women than men are using social media.
57% of Twitter and Facebook users are female and 55% of Flickr users are female.
More importantly, 50% of women in the US have made purchases based on information discovered via social media.
Foursquare needs females…and fast
To cut a long story short, female adoption is critical for social networking services who want to become ‘mainstream’ (or so it seems based on social media’s relatively limited history thus far).
The obvious question that follows is ‘why are females currently shunning Foursquare’?
Is it simply the fact that it’s not mainstream enough yet, and once it ‘explodes’ both sexes will adopt it equally?
Is there some skepticism around location based apps amongst female users, especially re: safety?
It’s hard to say with any certainty right now, but in any event, Foursquare needs to attract this audience if it wants to succeed.
What can Foursquare do to attract more female interest / usage?
If Foursquare did want to proactively create interest amongst females (which, in my opinion, they must) there are a few things they could consider:
– Adopt elements of the Facebook / Twitter model i.e. engage high profile female celebrities
– Go on a proactive PR offensive i.e. highlight success stories of people making more of their respective social lives thanks to Foursquare
– Be as prepared as possible for the potential ‘horror’ stories that may result i.e. do GPS-based social apps make privacy even more challenging? (despite it being an ‘opt-in’ service)
– Does Foursquare need to integrate some safety functionality into the mobile apps in cases of unpleasant social scenarios?
– Could community partnerships (and partnerships in general) help positively boost it’s profile?
Conclusion / next steps
I can’t stress enough how subjective and crude this analysis is.
However, you can only use the tools and data at your disposal and such low current female adoption rates are a concern.
Foursquare seems to have been focusing very strongly on the technical side of the proposition of late, as opposed to it’s profile (which, until recently, has been it’s strength).
I think it’s a great tool, and could be a lot of fun…and will most likely become mainstream anyway…but, if Foursquare wants to get there a little quicker, my advice is: go for girls!