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Women's Use of Social Media: "More Thoughtful and Intentional"

Since it's a cliche that men and women are as different as, say, Venus and Mars, it should come as no surprise that the genders use social media differently, including when shopping online.

And with that emotionally-loaded holiday, Valentine's Day, looming on the horizon, those differences may well have unintended consequences in the offline world as well.

A new study by Empathica, a retail consultancy, found that women are looking more for good deals online, whereas men are more likely to just be seeking information.

“Women are more intentional and thoughtful shoppers,” Empathica executive Gary Edwards told Chief Marketer. He noted that despite  greater parity between the number of men vs. women in the workforce, “women still hold heavier responsibility for household organization, kids, dinner and homework. The world has not equalized on the home front.”

These findings come after earlier studies indicated that women are more influenced than men by bloggers when making buying decisions.

Hoping to connect with more men, the giant consumer products company, Proctor & Gamble, has launched an advice website for men called ManoftheHouse.com.

This move comes after research showed that many men have been turning to women's websites for help with household, shopping or relationship issues.

The new P&G site offers articles such as "4 Reasons Men Should Not Tuck in a Shirt" (They often tuck it in too tight.)

Other big companies, like WalMart, General Mills and Unilever, have also realized that advice sites can be good ways to connect with consumers -- both female and male.

The launch of these advice websites may also reveal an underlying weakness in the big brands' use of social media for direct marketing. To many people, there's something discordant about corporate marketing on Facebook, because they use it not to shop but to connect with friends.

Thus, the indirect approach offered by advice websites might be a smarter way to go. Still, by monitoring social media, companies can still uncover valuable information for what men are looking for.

“All of these discussions...are already happening on Facebook,” digital strategist Jeremiah Owyang told the New York Times. “The reason these things do work is that consumers are already having these discussions, having a healthy breakfast, talking about their wives in relationships.”

Meanwhile, yet another new study of gender differences in social media use, this one from Shape and Men's Fitness magazines, reported that large majorities of men and women believe that social networking leads to having sex sooner.

According to that survey, 80 percent of women and 58 percent of men think social media use causes people to hop into bed faster than would otherwise be the case.

But that may only represent one aspect of these love stories, since 72 percent of women said they carefully study their new partner's ex-girlfriends' Facebook pages, which in some cases may represent trouble.

All of which may spawn a new twist on the old adage, at least when it comes to relationships: "Live by social media, die by social media."