A new study has shown there are four types of Facebook users on the social media platform, revealed in what users display the most, and why they do so.
The researchers from Brigham Young University say 1.28 billion people check in on Facebook each day, and that they each spend about 35 minutes browsing their feeds.
“Social media is so ingrained in everything we do right now,” study co-author Kris Boyle says, adding: “And most people don’t think about why they do it, but if people can recognize their habits, that at least, create awareness”.
The study, published in the International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking, found people generally fell into four categories.
- Relationship builders respond to other people’s posts and use Facebook to strengthen real-world relationships. “They use it as an extension of their real life, with their family and real-life friends,” study lead author Tom Robinson says.
- Town criers, however, make a distinction between their real and virtual worlds. They don’t share photos or stories about themselves. Instead, they “want to inform everybody about what’s going on” by reposting news stories and announcing events.
- Selfies self-promote. They are heavy posters of pictures, videos and updates. But their motive is to get attention, unlike relationship builders. Study co-author Kris Boyle says selfies use Facebook “to present an image of themselves, whether it’s accurate or not.”
- Window shoppers are there, but they generally don’t want to be seen. They feel a sense of obligation to see what their friends and associates are saying, but rarely contribute themselves. “It’s the social-media equivalent of people watching,” study co-author Clark Callahan says.
“What is it about this social-media platform that has taken over the world?” study lead author, Tom Robinson asks.
“Why are people so willing to put their lives on display? Nobody has ever really asked the question, ‘Why do you like this?’” he further queried.
The study, he says, goes some way to answering these questions by identifying our human motivations.
While similar categories to ‘relationship-builder’ and ‘selfie’ users have been found by other studies, the researchers say the emergence of ‘town criers’ and ‘window shoppers’ was an unexpected find.
“Nobody had really talked about these users before, but when we thought about it, they both made a lot of sense,” Robinson says.
But the definitions are not always clear-cut.
Many users may identify with more than one category.
Most people have some degree of ‘selfie’ behaviour. But almost all fall more into one category than all the others.
Are you a Relationship builder, a town crier, a selfie or a window shopper Facebook user? Leave a comment below!