Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Are You on Facebook? A Short List of Users

In thinking about who uses Facebook (and why), I’ve developed this short list of the likely and usual suspects.

1. Gamers. They rarely post updates and news about themselves or reply to others’ wall posts. Instead, they play Farmville, Sorority Life, etc. and answer quizzes. They may join groups, but really Facebook is just another platform for games, albeit perhaps a bit more social. Although they may be any age, both my nephew and niece (a teen and pre-teen) fall into this category, so I wonder if there are any trends/data? Do you and/or your family members fall into this category of Facebook users?

2. Networkers. They have tons of friends and will usually friend-request you after just meeting you, seeing you post to one of their friends’ pages, or even just finding you online. For them, it’s mainly a numbers game, although they can be open and frequent posters. Networkers do seek to engage their Facebook-friends, with links and thought-provoking questions, however.

3. Activists. They primarily post about causes they feel strongly about or policies and politics they object to. They may join or start such groups, as well as send you invites to do so. Activists can be great sources of news and perspectives about our culture by providing such links, especially when they are interesting, multi-faceted people to begin with. Some, however, are single-issue advocates, and their multiple posts about the same thing over and over can create a major tune-out effect, which is exactly the opposite of what they are trying to achieve.

4. Promoters. Internal company marketing, sales, or PR people fall into this category as do independent marketers, PR professionals, and social media companies. Their Facebook use is goal-oriented, primarily to create and maintain a fan page, whereby they promote the company’s products and services, provide important updates, interact with the public, generate special offers, drive traffic to their main website, encourage referrals, create leads, get the word out about events, and the list goes on. In best case scenarios, they are tracking the results of their efforts and are seeing some traction and conversions with respect to key metrics. I’ve mostly seen one-way communications from this group, so don’t expect them to post on your wall or visit your website. They want the love and support of the general public, and their job is to work for it. Facebook is just another means to market something. In cases where Promoters do not have a Fan page, their wall posts may often be related to their company’s successes or newsworthy tidbits. The best of them will reply to you if you write on their wall. As this group grows, it will be interesting to see how the other users react.

5. Shooting Stars. They figure it’s better to be there than not, so they’ll show up from time to time, albeit briefly. They rarely post updates on their wall but may have a ton of friends, like Networkers. They may not log in often nor read everyone’s updates, mainly because they are just too busy to fuss with another application. (Wasn’t LinkedIn enough?) Usually a Shooting Star’s contacts are strictly professional. No games, no groups, no photos, and (for heaven’s sake!) don’t tag them without their approval. Facebook is serious business. If you are a true friend, they’re more likely to email you (through Facebook or not) or call you directly. And they have a good point . . . Facebook doesn’t replace face-time (or voice-time, if distance is an issue).

5. Connectors. These folks joined Facebook primarily to keep in touch with the people they care about (or just used to know!). They keep their Facebook-friend group small, typically, and won’t accept just any invitation (such as from Networkers and Promoters). They may also be reluctant to become a fan of companies and brands unless they know them and/or are passionate about them. Connectors may also dislike Networkers and tune out Gamers, since these types don’t really fit with their goals. They are happy to tell you what they (and their kids) are up to and look forward to reading and commenting on your posts and photos. Connectors may even ask for advice in a post or encourage a discussion. They may take quizzes or participate in activities that are interactive in nature (pokes, birthday gifts, etc.) as a way of connecting/reconnecting with friends. (This happens to varying degrees; I’m a prime example of one who doesn’t do any of that stuff). Facebook is also like an extra email account for Connectors, especially since the Inbox supports an email-type exchange among a group of friends. If they are having a party, they might just use Facebook instead of evite.

6. Newbies. They may have just joined, at someone’s urging perhaps. Usually mid-40s and up. They aren’t sure how they will use Facebook or which type of user they’d like to be. (Maybe this list will help!)

Final Note: Not everyone falls into a single category, of course. Some may be a combination of two or more types. ( I am a Connector/Promoter, for example, which is an odd mix and somewhat conflicting at times.) Feel free to weigh in here about what type(s) you are and/or what you’re seeing within your Facebook circles. Did I miss any types? Did I misunderstand or misrepresent the type that you most identify with? Any reactions to this post are welcomed.

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