We’ve all got that friend. You know the one – they’re prone to writing on Facebook the likes of “why is it always me?” or “OMG, can’t believe it” (that is, of course, when they’re not uploading a hard drive’s worth of photos). There’s also a daily rotation of profile picture and a “Please share this” for good measure thrown in as well.
If you’re a soulless troglodyte like me then maybe you’ve just shrugged it off as the work of an egomaniac, utilising the endless procession of 0s and 1s as some sort of digital vindication for being alive. After a little while, I just scan over updates whenever they crop up – but I don’t un-friend them. Come on… I’m not a monster.
Well, it turns out this is simply one trait in a gamut of 12 outlined by Winchester University, into which it says every single social media user can be pigeonholed. So what are these 12 categories and more importantly, where do we all fit?
Step forward Mr Social Media Addict. Put the phone down for a minute Miss Twitter-aholic. This category is for you. Check in on your networks numerous times a day and spend an average of about two hours doing so? Then this category is for you. Unsurprisingly, this category is populated with the fresh faces and smell of Lynx, only evident in the young. Fourteen per cent of Facebook users spend an ‘Ultra’ level of time on Facebook, rising to 25 per cent for 18 to 24-year-olds.
Did you read about the Ultras and think “Ah, that’s not me. I’m no addict!” even though there was a pang of recognition from deep down? Then you, my friend, are a ‘Denier’. You kid yourself that social media doesn’t have a sizeable impact on your life – when the reality is that, without it, you would feel anxious or isolated.
Our old friend from the top of this blog would fall almost exclusively into this ‘Approval Seekers’ category (maybe with a little of the others above for good measure as well). These equate social media success with social standing success. Likes, re-tweets and comments act as vindication of popularity or likeability. They are one of the 14 per cent who admit that responses are important to their feeling of self-worth.
Similar to the ‘Approval Seekers’, Peacocks see social success as their ideal, but mark themselves against their own friends and followers. For these, climbing to the top of the social pile, by achieving more friends than their friends, is the aim of the game. They won’t stop until every utterance is shamelessly re-tweeted by their rapt followers.
Informers are distant cousins of the ‘Approval Seekers’, although aiming to paint themselves as erudite and on-the-button, as opposed to popular. They hope to be the first to share news or updates with friends and followers; they’re always there with a breaking story they urge you to read.
In the Venn Diagram of ‘Approval Seekers’ and ‘Informers’, ‘Quizzers’ sit in the middle. They like to shun Google and instead take to the networks with their questions in the hope of not only getting an answer, but starting up a conversation at the same time.
There is a widely-held belief that it’s possible – nay, even expected – to be more outlandish and opinionated online than in the real world. In fact, 11 per cent of Facebook users and 17 per cent of those on Twitter believe so. There is a place for these – and it’s in the Ranters pile. Be careful, it’s noisy in there.
Altogether different are the ‘Lurkers’, who retreat into themselves on social networks like digital voyeurs; preferring to watch the action than participate within it. There are more ‘Lurkers’ on social networks than is thought, with some 45 per cent of Facebook users coming out of the shadows to describe themselves as “observers”.
‘Virgins’ are, as the name makes clear, those still new to the platform. They are often found looking around listlessly, mouth agape asking questions like “What’s a hashtag?”. Anyone uploading “New to this Twitter thing, going to give it a go” can comfortably be placed in this category.
Virgins that don’t quite take to social networks with the same ferocious addiction as ‘Ultras’ may go on to become ‘Dippers’, instead choosing to pop in and out whenever bored or free on time. These people – what the ‘Deniers’ pretend to be – aren’t governed by the social networks and can happily leave days or even weeks between visits.
Floating anonymously around cyberspace are the ‘Ghosts’, who use fake names or aliases to keep their identity a secret. This is most often done on the basis of security, with ‘Ghosts’ keen to keep their real information – such as name or date of birth – off the social networks.
‘Changelings’ take the idea of Ghosting to a whole new level – not only by inventing a false name for themselves, but a whole new identity. These users have personalities that exist entirely online and could be markedly different from the real person behind their computer screen. This allows for more freedom for expression of opinions and the ability to post material that would otherwise be controversial or anti-populist.
How does this impact marketing?
There they are: the twelve. Most, if not all, should be familiar, either in yourself or your contacts. How does this impact your social media marketing, though? Well, quite simply, knowing your audience is half the battle.
Barely a day goes by without someone extolling the belief that brands who get to know their consumers can deliver more relevant content to them. Success often comes to those who segment and tailor their content before delivery – a process that becomes infinitely easier when you actually know about your audience. It’s also wise to identify how regularly your contacts are engaging. There’s little point ploughing obscene amounts of resources into a community of ‘Dippers’.
Conversely, any brand that has fostered some ‘Ultras’ or ‘Attention Seekers’ has quite the base to work with; a group of fully-addicted brand ambassadors.
So there it is. It’s not so much a case of asking in which category you fit, but instead, where do your followers/fans?