Facebook has been one of the most unifying platforms in the world. With 1.94 million worldwide users engaging with the channel each month, it is no surprise that Facebook has amassed the most users compared to other social networks. Although we are just white noise to the Facebook organisation, this digital gem has provided us with endless opportunities – from people looking to reignite old friendships or get in touch with family, to those who use it as a means of business advertising or even as their sole source of income through social popularity.
Simply put, Facebook is a network where everyone can find their own place, and its diversity means there have been inclusions over the years to support the growing demands of users. Although from the outset it may seem that every user can have an individualistic experience, analysts are starting to realise that this may not necessarily be the case. In a recent study, it was found that there may only be four categories of Facebook users, offering a new way to look at those you see through your newsfeed scrolling.
These categories, as published by the International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking, fall under the following labels: ‘relationship builders’, ‘town criers’, ‘window shoppers’ and ‘selfies’.
The question is: which category does your brand’s target demographic fall under?
Category One: Relationship Builders
Much like the name suggests, this category denotes those Facebook users who have harnessed the platform as a way to keep in touch with those in their lives, such as family and friends. They use it as a way of connecting with those close to them; to inform the masses of any important news or just general changes in life, and vice versa. There is almost a blur between their online and offline life.
It isn’t used as a means of getting to know strangers in this group of users, however, it is used for a way to have personal interactions with those they consider family and friends. They also tend to post a lot of personal videos and pictures which are heavily interacted with, and frequently comment on images or statuses that are shared by their Facebook friends.
Category Two: Town Criers
This is where Facebook is viewed as a podium to voice opinions, thoughts and feelings about subjects. Usually occupied by those in the fields of journalism or activism, they do not use the platform as a way to build or maintain relationships, but rather as a space to broadcast. Their virtual life is not an extension of their offline life, unlike that of the relationship builder.
Although they do have connections on the platform, interaction with them isn’t a sole priority. In fact, they tend to not mind if they don’t have follow-ups on their posts. It isn’t about connectivity to people, but rather the connectivity to social issues, political debate or a way to source information.
Those who deem themselves as town criers are seen to be raising awareness of bigger issues and passing on relatable content such as memes and videos.
They aren’t likely to share personal information, and instead push forward events or causes that they identify with. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about personalised interactions – they do, they just don’t view Facebook as the place for this.
Category Three: Window Shoppers
This is arguably the most common group of Facebook users. With the prevalence of social media (especially the likes of Facebook), these users tend to consider the platform an inescapable part of modern life. For them, it is a social obligation rather than a platform to share their life or voice their opinions. Window shoppers use Facebook as a way to silently observe those who do engage with Facebook on a more personal level.
They very rarely post their own updates, photos or information – instead, they are privy to viewing others. They are browsers, able to look at passers-by on their newsfeeds without necessarily interacting with or engaging in any way.
They still live their lives separate to Facebook, but use it as a means to watch those who they may interact with outside of the Facebook realm.
Category Four: Selfies
The last group in this line-up is perhaps the most spoken about. They have not only adapted to using social media in large portions of their life, but have also ignited discussions in older generations.
Mainly made up of millennials, the ‘selfie’ culture employ Facebook as a means of relationship-building and attention-gathering. It is a form of validation, which they seek out through their status updates, picture updates and information-sharing. They can garner approval, compliments and likes which also help them gain a sense of confidence or justification. Time and time again, they prove themselves as worthy by posting pictures that support updates or activities they post about.
They were found to be least concerned about the digital self that they portrayed to the masses, but a sense of this was found across the board. After all, people tend to naturally portray the best versions of themselves when using a highly perceptive platform such as Facebook as a vehicle to do so.
Identify and Strategise
By breaking up your audience into one of the four researched categories of Facebook users, you can create an effective marketing campaign that speaks directly to them. Not only does this help you create a more streamlined campaign, but it will help you generate leads out of your target pool. For example, if your key prospects likely belong to the category ‘relationship builders’, you can play into the importance of family and friends by delivering campaigns aimed at group activities, products or services – for instance, consider using Facebook to advertise two-for-one deals. This is different to ‘window shoppers’, who would be better targeted through click-worthy videos or images that break up their routine scrolling.
Evaluate your target audience and strategise the best way to target them with your campaigns in order to truly reap the benefits of your social media efforts.