Social Media: Is It Too Feminine?

"We know we could plaster up advertising right now," says Mr. Stansberry. But like Facebook and other networks that built huge followings before figuring out a business plan, the pair want to focus on the user experience first.

Can these social media start-ups survive? Some analysts are skeptical.

"Women historically are the net-workers in relationships," says Keith Hampton, a communications professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and lead author of the Pew survey showing a decline in male users of social media. A different website format isn't the answer, he adds. "Larger social forces that have nothing to do with the site's interface explain better why men are less engaged on social media."

Still, there are social websites that do draw men, such as the Art of Manliness blog, which boasts 8 million page views per month and generates a six-figure income for its creator, Brett McKay, and his wife. An eclectic and thoughtful mix of male topics – from choosing a "council of heroes" to cooking wild game and explaining the origin of WD-40 – the site has its own online social networking community. And traffic is growing, he says. "On my site, we double every year."

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