It’s in the subject line, the salutation, the closing, everywhere.
Aside from caps lock the exclamation mark is another way of showing extreme emotion or high volume when writing – not to mention drawing attention to danger areas on signs. It also applies when speaking to different genders online. While it’s no surprise that women and men get very different treatments when being marketed to, could this bit of punctuation make all the difference when speaking to women online?
Here’s a snapshot of a few brands that speak to women on Facebook (in no particular order) -
The numbers, like Shakira’s hips, do not lie. Always is the biggest offender, with more exclamation marks than status updates, which often included two in a row. While I’m not Always’ target consumer, I don’t know many women that excited about feminine hygiene products.
It’s not clear if exclamation marks affect engagement because there are many factors like content, length and media that also influence performance. Betty Crocker uses an exclamation mark in nearly every status update, but they also have simple copy and compelling (and delicious) pictures. And their content is functional –nearly all include drivers to recipes on their website.
Dudes – it’s your turn! Ahem… I mean, it’s your turn.
The frequency of occurrence is substantially lower on the pages targeted towards men. Old Spice only used it shockingly twice in the last three months, which seems oddly low given their age target and content. Wait a second… Did one of the most dude-oriented brands just throw a musky teenage wrench in my theory? How did this happen? Simple – LaurenwithAXE, or LWA when she’s feeling acronym-y (or lazy).
Axe’s Facebook page is moderated by both a male and female, with LaurenwithAXE supplying 81% of the whopping 169 exclamation marks. DanwithAXE (previously referenced nicknames still applying) was also letting the exclamation marks fly, and often with multiple in a row. But the vibe is completely different from Betty Crocker’s community. With Axe I feel like someone with hearing damage is shouting at me. Betty’s tone is all enthusiasm, because this cake pop recipe that uses red soda pop instead of water is FANTABULOUS (and it is)! The fact that community members for both Axe and Betty Crocker both mirrored that same excitement, or volume, in the comments closed the exclamatory loop and quelled any mildly sexist taste this was initially leaving in my mouth.
This brief dive only scratches the surface, and there are examples, like method soap’s ee cummings approach, that show it’s not indicative of all female-centric communities. On a broad scale online communities targeted at women tend to use more exclamation marks than communities targeted at men, but when it’s all said and done, it really depends on the information being conveyed and the tone of the page.