The 3 types of social media user

February 1, 2011

Over 600 million Facebook users, around 200 million people on Twitter (with 25 billion Tweets sent in 2010), 5 billion photos hosted by Flickr and over 150 million blogs – it seems very clear that almost all internet users now interact with social media and that it has had a huge impact on how brands can communicate with people.

However, in order to utilise social media platforms in the most effective ways, it’s vital to segment and target your audience and gain a clear understanding of how these different groups interact with social media.

Classifying user behaviour – frequency of use, variety of use and content preferences – into meaningful categories ensures that brands can maximise their social media presence.

Here, then, is our guide to the different types of social media user:

The Social Spectator

The Spectator is a passive type of social media user who is content to simply view the information that they are interested in without a high amount of interaction on their part. This group has a ‘just’ kind of attitude. They ‘just’ visit social networking sites and maintain their profiles. They will selectively like fan pages, only when they feel that it will bring them useful information such as special offers.

They will also read the occasional blog, view YouTube videos, and in particular search for user reviews and ratings when making purchase decisions. Despite their lack of interaction they will expect brands to have a presence and will be disappointed if they don’t. They are spectators – but spectators who expect a lot.

The Social Connector

The Connector likes social media because it’s very convenient to connect with people. They allocate significant time every day on social media sites to look around and comment on their friend’s status, chat and interact with brands. In this way marketers can understand their personality and easily target them.

They will engage and share their views if they are passionate about the brand (or if prompted by engaging content), but they won’t take the lead. They will enter competitions, they’ll tag photos on Facebook, post comments, reviews and ratings of products and services, comment on some blogs and forums and will use LinkedIn as a tool to broaden their professional network. They may have a Twitter account where they will follow more than participate (this explains why 90% of Tweets are written by 10% of Twitterers) and will have probably created a blog but long since forgotten about it.

However, there are pitfalls. These people will turn off if they are not engaged by brands – unfollow, unlike, stop listening. They know that social media provides useful tools to keep in touch, share information and find out about interesting things that are happening – more importantly they also know that social media has given them a voice and that brands need to listen to them.

The Social Extrovert

On most social platforms, 10% of the top content producers account for 30% of all content produced. These are the Extroverts, the creators, the people who produce social media and want everyone to know about it. This type of user will create lots of content for multiple channels. They will publish blog posts or web pages, upload videos/images/podcasts and share this content online through ever channel they have at their disposal. As early adopters they will also sign up for each new social media platform which emerges.

It is these users who were the early adopters for Facebook and Twitter (interesting fact – Twitterers are 3 times more likely to be ‘creators’/’extroverts’). They will have developed large amounts of followers on these sites so it is crucial that brands try and create and nurture a relationship with these people through an outreach programme. The ability to amplify your brand’s voice through engagement with influential social media users who speak to large like-minded groups is one that can’t be missed.


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