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Researchers at Brigham Young University have just released a fascinating study on the four types of Facebook users. The research study, published in the International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking, breaks down Facebook’s nearly 2 billion users into just four types of users: relationship builders, window shoppers, town criers and selfies.
The four types of Facebook users
According to the study, here are the four types of Facebook users:
1. The relationship builders are the people who use Facebook as just an extension of their offline life. They use Facebook to strengthen existing relationships with family and friends, and primarily do so by posting photos and videos.
2. The window shoppers are only on Facebook due to a sense of “social obligation.” All of their friends are on Facebook, so they’ve grudgingly signed up as well. They rarely post any personal information, and basically just sign in every now and then to see what’s going on.
3. The town criers are typically journalists, activists and event organizers who essentially use Facebook as a distribution network. They’ll post new articles, provide updates on big issues, or distribute funny memes. But they rarely post any of their private or personal information. For them, Facebook is really just a PR tool.
4. The selfies are the narcissistic Millennials who post everyday details on what they’re doing (or what they had for breakfast). They live solely for likes and comments, and fully expect to get a lot of attention anytime they post something. However, there is sometimes very little correlation between the “real” self and the virtual self that’s shown on Facebook.
Facebook profiles and marketing personas
While these 4 types of Facebook users are certainly interesting for sociological and anthropological reasons, they are also very interesting for marketing reasons. That’s because these 4 types of Facebook users are really just “personas.”
In the world of digital marketing, personas are highly-stylized descriptions of typical customers that help marketers think in terms of who they should be targeting. These personas often involve demographic details as well as psychographic details (e.g. “moms over the age of 40 in the Philadelphia area who want to feel young again with revitalized skin”).
It can be hard work coming up with these personas, and it seems like these Facebook personas can be a useful starting point. That’s especially true since, for most small businesses, Facebook is one of the most important marketing tools at their disposal.
Facebook personas in action
So here’s how it would work: Instead of cranking through all of your customer data to determine a handful of buyer personas, focus on these 4 Facebook personas. Realize that, out of the gate, the “relationship builders” and “window shoppers” aren’t going to provide a lot of value. So focus on the “town criers” and the “selfies.”
For example, if you’re a new organic food brand, make sure all the “town criers” involved with organic food causes are aware of your company and any events you might be hosting. Then, reach out to all the “selfies.” Give them plenty of chances to take amazing photos with your food. Celebrate them when they post elaborate “unboxing” videos of your food deliveries.
While it may be over-simplifying things to assume that there are only 4 types of Facebook users, it also makes it much easier to come up with a workable Facebook strategy. You’ll know exactly what to post, and who’s going to be sharing it and liking it.
Once you’ve built up a critical mass with these Facebook users, you can go after the “window shoppers” (maybe instill a little FOMO fear in them) and the “relationship builders” (get them interested in a thriving, vibrant fan community). It all adds up to Facebook marketing success.