By Joanna McClanahan of Ramblin’ Mama
Love it or love to hate it, Facebook has become engrained in our everyday lives. And as it turns out, what you post (and choose to engage with) says a lot more about you than you might think.
A recent study from the International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking identified that Facebook users fall into one of the following categories: “relationship builders,” “window shoppers,” “town criers,” or “selfies.”
The four categories emerged from a survey asking for responses to a list of 48 statements, including phrases like, “Facebook is a source of stress, and it depresses me” and “Facebook is an instant way to ask for help or something I need from people.”
The study’s participants (47 Americans, ages 18 to 32) then ranked each statement on a scale from “most like me” to “least like me” and were later interviewed to gather additional data.
Here’s a closer look at the types of Facebook users revealed by the survey:
1. Relationship builders
This group uses Facebook to strengthen relationships with friends and family. Facebook is seen an extension of their offline life. A statement that relationship builders identified with was “Facebook helps me to express love to my family and lets my family express love to me.”
This group sees Facebook as a way to openly share information and stay in touch with family and friends. They tend to engage in frequent Facebook activity, including viewing, commenting, and engaging in conversations.
So be patient with your Aunt Debbie when she comments on every single picture you post; she’s coming from a place of love.
2. Window shoppers
These are essentially the voyeurs of Facebook. This group is motivated by “a sense of social obligation” and they see Facebook as part of modern life. However, they very rarely divulge personal information or interact with other people’s posts.
These lurkers participate in “the social-media equivalent of people watching” and most identified with statements such as, “I can freely look at the Facebook profile of someone I have a crush on and know their interests and relationship status” or “I have to use Facebook in order to stay connected with people.”
3. Town criers
This group uses Facebook primarily to spread information, often sounding off on what they feel to be big issues, and sees Facebook as the easiest way to accomplish that. They post information that they feel compelled to share, but they’re not necessarily looking for reactions.
But don’t ask them to share personal details. Focused on sharing news and/or inviting people to events, town criers reveal very little “private” information in their Facebook posts and comments. This group chooses to interact privately with their acquaintances via phone, text, or email/direct messaging instead.
Unlike relationship builders, their social media presence is very different from real life. The computer also tends to be a protective barrier for town criers who wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing their ideas or opinions face-to-face with others.
Just as it sounds, this group posts frequent pictures, videos, and status updates (similarly to relationship builders) but they do it primarily for attention and validation.
Energized by likes and comments, selfies agreed with statements like: “The more ‘like’ notification alarms I receive, the more I feel approved by my peers.”
They see social media engagement as validation, but are also the group least concerned about the accuracy of their online personas. Selfies consider part of the appeal of social media interaction to be a way to present a different (or improved) version of themselves.
No word on which category is reserved for people who try to sell you stuff as soon as you accept their friend request. I guess they are some terrifying combination of all four.