Researchers have found that Facebook’s nearly two billion monthly users can be categorised into four types ranging from people who use the social media network to build on real-world relationships, to those focussed on “likes” and attention.
On an average, 1.28 billion people check Facebook daily, and according to a recent estimate, an average Facebook user spends 35 minutes a day on the platform.
“What is it about this social-media platform that has taken over the world,” lead author Tom Robinson, Professor at the Brigham Young University, said in a statement.
To answer this, the team compiled a list of 48 statements to identify potential reasons as to why people use Facebook.
They found four categories of Facebook users: relationship builders, town criers, selfies and window shoppers.
Relationship builders post, respond to others’ posts and use additional Facebook features primarily in an attempt to fortify relationships that exist beyond their virtual world. “They use it as an extension of their real life, with their family and real-life friends,” Robinson said.
Town criers, on the other hand, are unconcerned with sharing photos, stories or other information about themselves, they instead “want to inform everybody about what’s going on”. “They push out information,” Robinson noted.
People in the selfies category use Facebook to promote themselves. They too post pictures, videos and text updates, but are focussed on getting attention, likes and comments. The more ‘likes’ they receive, the more they feel approved by their peers.
Window shoppers, like town criers, feel a sense of social obligation to be on Facebook but rarely post personal information. These users “want to see what other people are doing. It’s the social-media equivalent of people watching”, said Clark Callahan, a professor from the Brigham Young University.
“Social media is so ingrained in everything we do right now. And most people don’t think about why they do it, but if people can recognise their habits, that at least creates awareness,” said Kris Boyle, a professor from the Brigham Young University.