Women predominantly use social channels to connect with people they know, and men are more likely to use them to display status and opinions, according to new research from Porter-Novelli.

The findings are drawn from the EuroPNStyles research study, which polls 10,000 people across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The report identifies five trends that reveal how gender influences social media use and, consequently, offline behaviour.

The first of these is that women are more socially active than men, accessing social media more frequently. Second, the report finds that women are more likely to connect with people they know, to read posts and view pictures of friends.

Women are also more likely to friend or follow a brand for deals, with discounts and vouchers scoring particularly high in the UK.

The fourth trend reveals that men are more likely to display their status or opinions, checking in to locations via such services as Foursquare, and using Twitter more frequently to tell people what they are doing. Men also lead on blogging and commenting on blogs.

Of particular interest to marketers is the fifth trend, which looks at the type of social relationships that people want with brands. The report identifies four types of social consumers: loyalists, cheerleaders, outsiders and opportunists - based on their brand engagement and social media use.

For example, cheerleaders represent the “cutting edge of social media”, are usually younger and expect brands to be more socially active. Loyalists, meanwhile, are most likely to be brand advocates who care most about a company’s values. Opportunists are often on the lookout for deals and discounts, and tend to be older.

Each group, the research concludes, requires a different engagement approach.