There are certain types of people you can extremely clearly identify – the lurkers, the oversharers, the people who post incessant pictures of their child who you don’t really think is even that cute, the pass-agg status updaters. Because people’s Facebook personas can often be pretty different to their IRL selves, you probably don’t pay much attention to it. But now a new study has claimed that four ‘types’ of Facebook user can be identified and can actually teach us a lot about who we actually are.
The Brigham Young University study sought to understand the type of people using Facebook – and subsequently discovered the four archetypal Facebook users. You’re either a “relationship builder”, a “town crier”, a “selfie” or a “window shopper” – and knowing your type could help you “raise self awareness”
Participants in the study were asked to rate their connection to 48 statements identifying reasons people use Facebook, from “most like me” to “least like me”, and were then interviewed in-depth about their choices.
Tom Robinson, lead author of the study, said that the discovery of “town crier” and “window shopper” personality types was a surprise to the team.
“Nobody had really talked about these users before, but when we thought about it they both made a lot of sense.”
Relationship builders, as the name suggests, use Facebook to connect to their friends – mostly those they know online. They like to foster existing friendships by liking and responding to posts, using it “as an extension of their real life”. Relationship builders responded especially positively to statements such as “Facebook helps me to express love to my family and lets my family express love to me”, which is nice. This is your nan faving all your selfies.
Town criers, on the other hand, are less interested in other people and are more interested in “informing everybody about what’s going on” and “pushing information”. This might be a news story or an event, but they’re unlikely to share much of their own lives online, “preferring to update family and friends through alternative measures”. Think: the person constantly posting links to the Guardian on his profile. That guy.
Selfies are probably the most annoying people on your Facebook, if you’re honest, using it almost exclusively to promote themselves. They’re not interested in actually engaging with people – instead wanting “attention, likes and comments”, even if their boastful posts aren’t always completely truthful.
Finally, there are window shoppers: people who don’t really use Facebook or share personal details but who still want to know what everyone’s doing. Lurkers, basically.
Knowing your type might also help you understand yourself better, Robinson says.
“Social media is so ingrained in everything we do right now,” he said. “And most people don't think about why they do it, but if people can recognise their habits, that at least creates awareness.”