The Seven Personality Types on Social Media

chrisstreet
Chris Street Commercial Content Creator, Bristol Editor

Posted on October 25th 2011

So, as the force that is social media drives onwards and upwards, more and more newbies are entering the online foray that is Facebook, Twitter, personal blogging and the myriad of other social spaces available for us to live, work, and play on.

And with it, they bring their personalities into the social media spectrum, too. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

It’s important to understand the different personalities at work on social media platforms – so you can better understand how to connect, engage and build relationships with them. Or, on occasions, how to avoid the difficult and negative types out there.

These personality types can be found hanging out on pretty much all social media platforms – and for truly effective social media engagement, you’ll need to be able to spot them. Quickly.

Nobody wants to spend time engaging with a personality type on Facebook, for example, to find they are actually not beneficial, positive, genuine, open, honest and useful for forging a decent, long-term social media-based relationship.

So, and in no particular order, the seven main personality types are:

* The Sponge

This personality type is to found all over social media platforms, and they are worth connecting with. Like a sponge, they soak up content and pass it on. Constantly looking for more information, they take on huge amounts of useful, interesting and cool content – and then spread it as they go along their social journey. Brilliant folk.

* The Drain

This personality type is unfortunately out there, too. They suck up the good stuff, then regurgitate it. But not positively. Hyper-critical, negative, draining and rarely with anything original, constructive, or complimentary to add to the social debate, they are to be monitored. You can’t avoid them, but you can minimise their draining influence on your valuable social media network.

* The Guru

They’re everywhere, it seems. Contaminating Facebook, Twitter, blogging nonstop, and actually saying…nothing. Nothing useful, beneficial, just broadcasting and spouting. You’ve seen them, you know the type. And you must, must, must avoid them. The self-proclaimed Gurus will move on, and in 12 months be experts at something else. Grasshoppers in Business and Life.

* The All-rounder

These are one of my favourite social media personalities to be around. Smart, sharp, intuitive, sassy and direct. They observe, add value, and are nice people all-round. They give, share, contribute, and clearly love to be in the middle of the positive social conversations. These types are also excellent networkers offline, too, so find them, nurture them and stick with the winners.

* The Chameleon

This personality type are tricky, because they don’t actually have a personality to show on social media. They fit into whatever conversation at the time, and agree, agree, agree. You’ll never find them being questioning, or starting a debate – they are too concerned with everybody liking them to actually engage in a meaningful way. Watch the Chameleon, they’ll drag you down.

* The Observer

This personality type sees social media as a threat and an opportunity. They observe, but don’t engage. They listen, note, but never contribute. Then they’ll often take the best content and use it elsewhere as a part of their service offer. This personality type regards the open, genuine sharing of ideas and concepts on social media a waste of valuable selling time. Beware!

* The Maverick

This is another of my favourite social media personality types. Highly creative, witty, intelligent, alternative, they take a non-conformist approach and speak their own mind – always. Not one of the herd, the maverick will be in the middle of it all, sparking debate, making connections, and sharing great content. Don’t try to keep up with them, just enjoy their ride.

So – which type are you?

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Chris Street

Commercial Content Creator, Bristol Editor

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Comments

Ooh, I hope I'm a sponge! I mix some personal stuff (not hugely personal - running and BookCrossing) with posting about my own content and alerting people to other people's content that I think is good and worthwhile. I'm something of a Connector in everyday life / real life networking, and strive to do the same with my social media. Really interesting post!

Much appreciated Liz, and I'm pleased you found it interesting and useful.

Connecting and sharing - I'd suggest you're delivering a great mix of social media engagement there. Thanks again.

I'm a maverick - definitely! Take a look at my Twitter pic. Yes, those are flaming bat wings. I created them. My hobby - dancing with fire. Why even bother with social media if all you're going to do is fit in? The point of any effective social media campaign is to stick out! The online social sphere mimics the off-line social sphere in one very important aspect: If you stick out, you will be noticed, and remembered. If you blend in, you become an imminently forgettable part of the crowd. Bat **** Crazy... Because it works!

Thanks Leo - I favour the maverick, too. Good flaming wings! I think being memorable on social media - and for the right reasons - is an ongoing challenge for us all.

Excellent break down, Chris! I guess I'm a combination of a Sponge and an All-rounder. I love to soak in information and pass it out, but I enjoy commenting and sparking a debate.

 

There are, unfortunately, too many Drains and Gurus out there.

Hi Mandy

Much appreciated, and I'm in the same position - soak up great content and pass it on.

Yes, far too many Drains and Gurus on social, but being able to spot them is half the proverbial battle, I'd say.

I Like your article. It is appealing and helpful. I like to have a maverick  personality. Thank you for sharing your article.

Pleased you found it useful - the Mavericks are doing well too, it seems!

These are interesting ideas for classification of behaviour and motivation, but what research is this based on?

Hi and thanks for your comment.

It's not a scientific-based statistical article, so 'research' is, I'd say, a moot point here.

The Types were created after daily interaction on the main social media platforms since 2005. Hope this helps.

Maybe we could add "The Street-wise"

Thanks Jan!

Good comment - what would the characteristics of that Type be? Be interested to know!

Hi Chris,

This is about it:

Having the necessary natural aptitude, personality and instinct to survive in rough environments like social media.

 

 

 

I found something interesting when looking for ways of categorising stakeholders in my organisation and cannot remember where I found it, but it is out there so apologies for not referencing.

 

It is levels of engagement, which is the same ballpark as this article, and they are from bottom to top, observers, followers, endorsers, contributors, owners and leaders. If someone can find the original source it is a really good guide to not just the traits and motivations of each group, but also how to measure them and help move them on to the next level. Of course you want to control the audience and determine who you want at each level to be msot effective. I created a matrix with a value to the organisation level on the other axis, shows where there are individuals who need greatest investment of time.

Hi Daniel

 

Many thanks for your comment - i particularly liked your 'individuals who need greatest investment of time' part - this is so crucial in ensuring that social media engagement delivers real, measurable value, rather than becoming a Time Thief.

Thank you, Chris.  Very interesting to consider the attributes you have gleaned through your experience.  I am weary of catagorization and labels but find the nascent foray into creating a more meaningful conversation in a sphere in which we lack the cues absorbed from face to face, gestural and tonal attributes.  How are we learnng to do this without the benefit of 90% of what makes up real communication?  

I am new to the social media world, having avoided it mostly...i come from the world of touch and the healing arts, but am intrigued as I meet people with a depth of experience on these platforms who are clearly deeply feeling and intuitive.  

Enjoy!

Melanie "MiMi" Hegge

Thanks Melanie

Great point, too - without the 90% used in face-to-face communication, how do we ascertain that incredibly-useful and critical information about people? I'd suggest that people always give themselves away, over time, with their content.

Intentions always, always come out - eventually. Through consistent content, we can choose which people to connect with in a longer-temr, meaningful and potentially transactional way. Social media platforms are so useful for allowing this to happen.

I'm totally an all-rounder. I enjoy participating in most of the #chats. I love learning from everyone and contribute value where I can. If I disagree, I will point out why I disagree and welcome discussions w/ the person I've disagreed with. 

Thanks Tee

I like, in particular, your comment: I also welcome discussions with those who disagree with me. It leads to greater shared knowledge.

Interesting post! I, too, have noticed the different personalities of social media.

I'm a Gemini, so I get 2 choices: the all-rounder and the maverick.

 

Cheers,

Doreen Pendgracs

http://doreenisthewizardofwords.blogspot.com/

 

Hi Doreen

Many thanks for your comment.

I would definitely have to say Maverick- as the lightbulb went off once I got to the bottom of the blog. I love blogging about crazy things, yelling about auto DM's, and hanging with my Social Media Monkeys on Twitter (we're always recruiting in case anyone wants to join under the hashtag #SMMonkeys) I'm surely not a guru, and always trying to learn, so meeting people through social media is amazing. Thanks for the blog- as I have smacked into each and every one of those social media personalities.

Hi Reyna

Thank you for your comment - and the Types are clearly visible online, as you've spotted!

Chris, I liked the binary approach of Jung somewhat better, so I had to come up with a eighth type - "here I am, I couldn't do otherwise" :-)

jk

Hi Jan

Nice approach - what would you call the Type? Maybe something like The Existentialist? Quite deep for a social presence! I'm thinking along the lines of "I blog, therefore I am" perhaps.

Hi Chris,

Just "The Streetwise" or "The Street-Wise"

(too bad you didn't get Martin Luther's defend to his trial after 31st of October 1517 - anniverary in a few days)

 

 

...and I am me .... a curious mix of All-Rounder/Sponge/Maverick & Tease/Daggy Poet ... :) Does that mean you have to come up with a new type, ChrisStreet ??? Tag me if you can?!?!?

 

Hi Colly

Thank you for the comment - I'd say it's down to individuals to find their own tags, ideally.

Thanks for the article. Is a better question to ask - Which type do you think you are? Most people will generally gravitate to the Maverick or All-arounder since they feel that they add value and provide worthwhile content, when in fact they are one of the others. I have unfollowed several high-profile "Gurus" since all they do is send out random posts several times a day, adding no value, but they may think they are Mavericks. Would be good to be able to categorize your peers and see how they categorize you.

Hi Jim

Good point - the Type or Types we see ourselves within may well be viewed differently by others. An interesting exercise!

I'd truthfully love to be considered an all-rounder.  I don't like making waves, but I love to be involved, helping people and allowing them to see the bright side of social media.  Maybe a bit of a wuss (definitely NOT a maverick), but I'm happy in that place.  :) 

 

Thanks for some great writing!!  I like it!

Hi Lorri

Thanks for the comment - if you're happy being an All-Rounder, who's to argue with that? Great stuff.

Where's my little social networking monitoring widget that tells me what type I am ... a bit like a weather report.

and , is it like other personality profile types where you can change yourself from one to another in time....

Hi Kimono

A 'social networking monitoring widget' sounds like a brilliant idea!

Many thanks.

A slightly different twist on Jim's suggestion -- what type would you like to be?

I saw a couple types I know I don't want to be (and hope I'm never perceived as being).  There are also a couple types I'd like to be a lttle more like.  Your descriptions of those types help me to know better what I can work on.  A good stretching exercise.  Thanks!

Greta point Debi - and I'm pleased the Types are making people, including you, really think hard about their content.

Wow that was fantastic. Hopefully one day I will grow into a maverick but alas I feel like a guru at times >':

 

^^ I am actually doing about personality types of PR for my dissertation, so would you allow me to reference you and this page? I know you said earlier in a comment that it was a non-scientific study but did you have any books/theories in which to help you design the categories or is it based on a whim/intuition?

Many Thanks ^^

Hi Natari

Thank you for your comments.

I think people can slip inbetween different Types, and this would be perfectly normal online and offline at times, I'd say.

Feel free, of course, to crosslink the article with your dissertation. The Types are the result of observing different kinds of behaviour and social media content posting across varous sites since 2005. Not whimsical, but very observational.