Defining the types of people who use social networks is tricky. Everyone uses them for different means, be it re-finding old schoolmates, strengthening relationships with existing friends, or making new ones.
An Ofcom report last year broke down social network users into the following:
1. Alpha Socialisers – (a minority) people who used sites in intense short bursts to flirt, meet new people, and be entertained.
2. Attention Seekers – (some) people who craved attention and comments from others, often by posting photos and customising their profiles.
3. Followers – (many) people who joined sites to keep up with what their peers were doing.
4. Faithfuls – (many) people who typically used social networking sites to rekindle old friendships, often from school or university.
5. Functionals – (a minority) people who tended to be single-minded in using sites for a particular purpose.
RealBuzz.com put together a (now defunct) survey that came up with (again) five types of social networker:
1. Enthusiasts – people who remain quiet about themselves, but wax lyrical about their hobbies.
2. Self-confessors – use their flaws to attract attention but come across as loveable.
3. Philosophers – try to make sense of the world by over-indulging in the sound of their own keyboard (hi!)
4. Critics – looks out for anything to discuss and bemoan.
5. Cynical clowns – over criticise in a flamboyant fashion to avoid revealing too much about themselves.
These aren’t, to me in any case, particularly satisfactory, so here’s my tuppence. I’ve broken the typical types of people I speak with and see online, down into four categories These are age/sex indiscriminate and focus purely on their social netoworking habits:
The Advocate – Someone who is on every social network, 24/7, making the most of their different capabilities to talk with different people and being listened to at every turn. OR… Has probably been on Facebook since the 1970’s.
The Convert – New to social networking and micro-blogging and loving every second of it, wants to know more and can’t stop talking about this new thing they’ve found. Started out with a few netowrks, now rapidly expanding. OR… Has seen the power of the Advocate and wants some for him/herself.
The Realist – Only one one or two social networks, probably Facebook and Myspace, isn’t sure about this Twitter thing. Uses to invite people to parties and share music. OR… I want to see pictures from my friend’s friend’s party and let them know I sort of know them, fancy a pint?
The Infrequent – Probably only on one network, typically invited by The Convert or The Realist and signed up in a moment of boredom. May occassionally check status updates, but is out having fun. OR… Is a fan of the mobile phone.
Let me know what you think!