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5 Types of Social Media Users and How to Use Them

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shutterstock_189556430Social media marketing starts with something logical and mathematical: a formalized posting plan, complete with an outline of your brand personality and the types of interactions you seek to facilitate. But there’s a much less predictable factor in the world of social media marketing, and it’s integral to the process: the human factor. People drive social media, and without having the people on your side, your social media campaign is destined to fail.

The problem is, every person is unique, and even if your behavioral predictions are correct for 30 percent of the population, the other 70 percent could throw off your entire equation. The trick is to learn how all your users operate, and cater to as many of them as possible. While there will always be individual outliers creating exceptions to the broader rules, you can generally count on most users within a certain category to behave in similar ways.

There are five key categories of social media users you’ll need to become familiar with:

1. The Influencer.


The influencer is the most sought-after type of user in the social media world, and arguably the most important of the lot of them. This user is somewhat rare, as attaining the position of an influencer takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication. Influencers tend to have massive followings, with thousands of Facebook friends or tens of thousands of Twitter followers, though this isn’t always the case. More importantly, influencers are seen as authorities in a given space. They are looked to as a reliable source of information, and their followers will likely listen to their advice.

The best way to use an influencer is to engage with them directly. Talk to them. Share their content. Get yourself noticed. Once you establish a base relationship with an influencer, that influencer will be more likely to share your content and mention your name, which then exposes your brand to thousands of new people with an authoritative backing.

2. The Evangelist.

The evangelist is similar to the influencer, but with a less significant air of admiration. Evangelists aren’t necessarily experts in anything, and they certainly don’t have the same following as their super-influential counterparts. Instead, evangelists are highly likely to share content that piques their interest. If you post content regularly, you’ve probably noticed at least one of these individuals sharing nearly everything you post.

This type of user is extremely valuable. While their influence isn’t as authoritative as that of an influencer, they do push your content in front of people on a very consistent basis. Some evangelists won’t need much of a push—they’ll share your content simply because they like sharing things. But you can attract more evangelists by posting more shareable content and reinforcing sharing behavior by thanking your sharers individually. Evangelists love recognition, and if you consistently reach out to them, you’ll attract more similar-minded users.

3. The Utilitarian.

The utilitarian doesn’t have a large following and doesn’t share much. Instead, the utilitarian uses social media purely for practical purposes. These types of users don’t interact with their friends or family very often and they don’t post comments on brand pages. However, they do spend a significant amount of time on social media, looking for valuable information, product discounts, or free offers they can take advantage of.

This user doesn’t need much to stay happy. All you have to do is offer something valuable to them on a regular basis. For example, you could offer a day-long discount on a new product once a week, every week, or you could hold free giveaways on a monthly basis. Consistency is the key here; if the utilitarian comes to expect free or discounted offers from your social media profile, he/she will come back frequently and with measurable consistency. Even more important, they’ll be more likely to tell their friends about the experience.

4. The Complainer.


The complainer isn’t a fun type of social media user, and if you see one, they’re probably going to do more harm than good. However, tactful social media managers can put a positive spin on the situation and use complainers to actively improve the reputation of their brand.

Complainers tend to be vocal and public about their complaints. They’ll post angry messages on your public Facebook page and scathing tweets to rile people up and make your company look bad. Though you might be tempted, do not delete these complaints. Instead, address them directly. Apologize when appropriate, explain the situation, and offer to improve the problem in any way that you can. Users who see this type of interaction will learn that your brand takes customer service seriously and will go above and beyond the call of duty to make your users happy. While the complaint might seem negative initially, it might actually help your brand’s reputation in the long run.

5. The Bystander.

The bystander is a tough type of social media user to take advantage of. This type of user logs into their account frequently, peruses their news feed and checks in with important people and brands, but doesn’t do much beyond that. They don’t share, like, or comment on much of anything, and you probably won’t even know they are there.

The best way to utilize a bystander is to post different types of content. Vary up your posting schedule with new, interactive mediums and esoteric topics. Eventually, you might find something that really resonates with your bystander crowd and when you do, you can incorporate more posts of that type in your regular schedule. It’s essentially a way of experimenting to find new types of information that go over well with your audience. In the meantime, don’t sweat it if your bystanders never interact.

Get to know these social media user archetypes well. The better you understand your key audience members and the more you do to cater to them specifically, the more they’ll reward you with increased activity and a stronger overall social influence.

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Kathrina Tiangco

Kathrina is AudienceBloom's project manager. She works closely with our writers, editors, and publishers to make sure client work is completed on time.

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