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Over the past couple of months first direct has conducted a research programme designed to identify different personality types through social media. 

We questioned around 1,500 UK adults on their behaviours and attitudes towards social media. From the results we were able to identify 11 measurably different types of user.

I don’t want to go into too much depth on the individual types here but it struck me that understanding these typologies can help marketers build relationships, create more relevant content and guard their brand against potentially damaging comments.  

The typologies are:

The Ultras

For ‘Ultras’ social isn’t just a fun thing they do. It's a way of life. 

They will spend more than two hours a day checking their feeds dozens of times. 13% of Facebook and 14% of Twitter users in the UK could be categorised as an 'Ultra'.

It is fairly easy for marketers to engage with ‘Ultras’ because of the large amount of time they spend on social and because of this they can also have a large influence on their followers.

The Deniers

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. 

‘Deniers’ are people who claim social media doesn't dictate their lives however they often suffer from anxiety when they are not connected. Interestingly this represents 20% of Facebook and 17% of Twitter users. 

From a marketer’s point of view this demonstrates the true value of social media. The Guardian reported in May 2012 that Twitter had surpassed 10 million UK users, so the high percentage of this “denier” behaviour would suggest that approximately 1.7 million of those sign on at least most days.

The Dippers

‘Dippers’ are much harder for marketers to engage with. They are the people who occasionally check their profiles and can go weeks without posting an update. They are much more likely to ignore brand messages on social therefore traditional marketing methods may be a better way to reach them. 

'Dippers' are probably the biggest single group in social media, Twitter reports that roughly 40% of its accounts are inactive, so if marketers can tap into this group and find ways to engage with them they will suddenly open up a huge new potential audience.

The Virgins

If the Daily Mail is to be believed, half the UK is on Facebook. That means the other half are likely to be social media ‘Virgins’. These novices will be confused by news feeds, apps and will not know how to navigate themselves around sites that for the majority of us have become second nature. 

Marketers should help this group discover their social personality. By targeting consumers with specific interests, we can help the ‘Virgins’ build brand affinity and ultimately help them become 'Ultras'. If we don't they could just as easily become lost and slip into the 'Dippers' category. 

The Lurkers

In the dark corners of social media are ‘Lurkers’, who simply sit back and watch the activity of others.  

The problem this group poses for marketers is proving their existence and relevance. As roughly 45% of Facebook users and 39% of Twitter have lurking tendencies this provides a real problem. 

At first direct we use bitly.com links to track the click through rates of items we post. This gives a much more accurate engagement figure and allows ‘Lurkers’ to keep their anonymity. 

The Peacocks

‘Peacocks’ are popular, proud and want you to know it. 11% of Twitter users who say it’s important to have more ‘followers’ than friends would fall into this category.

'Peacocks' are more likely than not to appear influential (by online metrics like klout) but more importantly, their urge for self-promotion can be usefully predictable.

The Ranters

Most people will have come across ‘Ranters’. They are highly opinionated and are not afraid of voicing their point of view. 11% of Facebook users and 17% of Twitter users say that social networks allow them to voice opinions they normally wouldn't.

The Ghosts

Some people prefer to be anonymous, so rather than give their real name they use a pseudonym. They enjoy talking to strangers but dislike having to give out personal information. 

Interestingly, 15% of Twitter users stated security as a reason not to use real names, compared to 6% of Facebook users. 

The Informers

Informers want to be the first to show you the latest Meme, next big artist or national event. They regularly check news feeds looking for the latest breaking story to share. 

These people can be extremely influential because they have earned trust for regularly posting valid content. Marketers should try and identify ‘Informers’ because targeting this group and utilizing them as brand ambassadors can help to organically spread your content. 20% of Twitter and 22% of Facebook users admitted they enjoy sharing links with followers. 

The Approval-seekers

Approval-seekers want people to like or re-tweet their posts as much as possible. They see this as a statement of how popular they are and will feel anxious after a post, until people start engaging with them. 

9% of Twitter and 14% of Facebook users say re-tweets and likes are important to them.

Engaging with ‘Approval-seekers’ can be a quick way of winning them over, as a liked post or a re-tweet by a brand will be seen as an endorsement of their popularity and will create an emotional connection.

In conclusion

Understanding each of these typologies can help marketers understand how to engage better with the audience. At first direct our approach to delivering outstanding customer service is based on the quality and consistency of the conversations we have with customers.

As we extend this into the social space, it’s vital that we’re able to broaden our understanding, not just of the individuals but of their behaviour in the specific context of social media – where people will behave very differently than they would on the phone.  

Through having this kind of insight into these typologies, we’re able to begin to understand a little more, both about how people choose to communicate through social, and about the thoughts and emotional process behind their actions.  

The full report detailing all the social typologies can be found here.

Lisa Wood

Published 15 April, 2013 by Lisa Wood

Lisa Wood is Head of Marketing at first direct and a contributor to Econsultancy.

5 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

Blair Keen

Blair Keen, Optimisation Manager at Adobe

Hi Lisa,

Interesting post.

You describe the 11 types as being 'measurably different'. I'm interested to hear about the signs, signals, metrics and technologies you use to identify and measure the behaviour of these groups.

Are you able to describe how you do this in the real world outside of your research?

Cheers,

Blair

about 3 years ago

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Desmond

Deeply saddening that we can only be thought of as mere consumers to be marketed at! What 'type' am I? Saddo:( ?

about 3 years ago

Lisa Wood

Lisa Wood, Head of Marketing at First Direct

Blair: Thanks for your comments. We are running a Twitter and Facebook Q&A on Thursday 18/04 with Dr. Giles, the psychologist overseeing the experiment. If you have any questions tweet @first_direct using the #socialexperiment hashtag.

Desmond: We conducted research into social media to help us define how we engage with customers. We believe that the delivery of outstanding customer service is based on the quality and consistency of the conversations we have with customers. We hope that, by better understanding social typologies, we can keep improving these conversations. In the article we decided to talk about the benefits of using these typologies for marketers as we felt that would be of particular interest to Econsultancy readers.

Kind Regards

Lisa Wood

about 3 years ago

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