The Question

There Are Four Kinds Of Facebookers. Which One Are You?

Everybody uses social media in a different way. Some people base their sense of self-worth on how many likes they get, and others just lurk in the background, never engaging but always watching. Now, a new study out of Brigham Young has classified the different ways people behave online into four distinct types. Be honest, you definitely have a pattern.

These are selfies, relationship builders, town criers, and window shoppers.

Who's Got Two Thumbs And Fits Into One Of These Categories?

Conducted by four communications professors, the study presented participants with 48 statements about the reasons for using Facebook. You know, things like "The more 'like' notification alarms I receive, the more I feel approved by my peers," or "I can freely look at the Facebook profile of someone I have a crush on and know their interests and relationship status." The four distinct types that emerged each had their own motivations and methods for using the social media platform. Any of these sound familiar?

  • Relationship Builders: You know your aunt who always signs her comments? "So proud of you! Love, Aunt Linda." Relationship Builders post a lot on Facebook in order to reinforce their relationships with people they know in the real world, especially family members.
  • Town Criers: Your friend who shares every fresh political controversy or celebrity gossip. Town Criers don't talk about themselves much, preferring instead to engage with the outside world and get as many of their friends engaged as well.
  • Selfies: You know exactly who Selfies are — after all, they're constantly telling you about themselves. They post lots of pictures, videos, and text updates, and thrive off of getting likes and comments.
  • Window Shoppers: Everybody's a Window Shopper once in a while (right?). These are the Facebookers who are on the platform all the time, but they never actually post anything. In some circles, it's called "lurking." But who doesn't like going back to see what your friends' friends were up to six years ago?

Different Shares For Different Cares

It is interesting that so many different kinds of users could find a home on one social media platform. Then again, maybe it's not so surprising. After all, Facebook is more than twice as popular as any other social media site, and anyway, the company is rather notorious for adopting the features of its competitors. But if Facebook manages to be all things to all people with Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat-esque features, then maybe those platforms are better at catering to exactly what those kinds of users need.

Instagram is obviously the place to go for sharing photos, so you might expect it to be the favored domain of Selfies. But a 2016 study from the University of Alabama found that the most common Instagram behavior could be classified as "surveillance." In other words, more than a third of all Instagram users spent most of their time keeping tabs on their friends. Sounds like a gaggle of Window Shoppers to us. And then there's Snapchat, which according to one cross-platform study dominated the competition when it came to self-documentation and entertainment appeal. Looks like we've found the perfect Selfie habitat. Meanwhile, Facebook's obsession with relationship updates make it a hotbed of Relationship Builder activity, and Town Criers find the combination news-feed and news-platform they need by tweeting. We're just wondering what the Twitter bots get out of all this.

To be transparent, our Facebook profile lands significantly in the Town Crier category. (This is where we badger you to give us your likes.)

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Written by Reuben Westmaas July 10, 2017

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