Contributed by Dennis Toh
Identify the various social media characters out there and explore ways to engage them for your brand.
The social media has conquered our lives in a fast and furious way. It has infiltrated into all facets of our lives before we even know it. We spend exceedingly more time on the internet than we watch television today. We listen to the radio only when we are driving or on the MRT. Our telephone conversations with friends become lesser for some strange reasons. We do not have the time to read newspapers as we are too engrossed with our Facebook updates. Our magazines and books are left untouched on the book shelves.
Admit it, we are all Facebook addicts. We subconsciously log on to Facebook first thing in the morning and the last activity before we sleep, is to have a last look at the notification page. We access Facebook when we are in a conference and even over a meal. We want to know what our friends are up to and the food they have tasted recently. We also want to be updated with the latest gossips, who’s who and the latest happenings in town, all in the name of being concern about our friends, family and community.
Whatever it is, all of us have a stake to play in making Facebook a better social media playground. As we lead this ‘Facebooking’ lifestyle, let’s study the various characters that exist in the Facebook world.
I have also included my thoughts on how brand managers could effectively target the different characters in their social media campaigns.
The ‘Balanced user’
The balanced user access Facebook once every two to three days. He leads a hectic lifestyle and is involved in many social activities. He posts on his wall once in a while, largely on his latest thoughts, updates and perhaps an event attended a couple of days ago. He makes occasional comments on friends’ status updates and disappears thereafter. He joins groups and fan pages based on his interests and if he chance upon them.
Brands who are keen to target the balanced users should understand the psychographics of such people. Balanced users are most likely the late majority in adopting new trends and products. They are never the influencers or early adopters who are fast in adopting and setting new trends. They are not specifically intrigued by fanfare or extremely loud creative marketing ideas. To engage them, put up regular updates of your products or services. They will still be your regular customers if you engage them well.
The ‘Silent Killer’
Silent Killers are friends who don’t utter a word on Facebook. If they do, then it will be something serious or thought-provoking. ‘I can’t stand the way Mr Lee preaches his stuff’ or ‘always sad to see guys standing in mrt waiting alone with flowers in hand. So embarrassing. Does it delight ladies to put them through this?’ People who are silent killer cannot have their character assessed on social media. The real identity of silent killer is hard to ascertain due to the sporadic nature of their messages and frequency of updates.
The silent killers are most likely the intellectual bunch who selectively makes comments only when necessary. The silent killers spent considerable time on social media but most are spent on analysing contents and seldom are they participants themselves. They are observers by and large and brands keen to target this group must cater to their cognitive responses, thoughts that occur to them while reading, viewing, and or hearing a communication. High involvement products like car, houses, new products could possibly target this group. Engage this group with hard facts, scientific evidence and testimonials.
As the name implies, complainant is someone who complains, curses and swears about everything under the sun. Common sentences are ‘I hate you’, ‘Arrrrgh, why is this happening’, ‘feels sooooooooo alone now’ etc. These people inject a lot of negativity and pessimism into the social media environment. The complainant uses the Facebook as a channel to vent their anger and frustrations.
The complainants are people who are very vocal on social media. They do not care if their reputation is at stake even if they openly bitch about someone they dislike. The complainants are highly unpredictable as you do not know what could be their next antic or update. Brands must be wary of complainants who openly blast their displeasure or disapproval about certain brands. The good news is that complainants can work to your favour if you know how to push the right buttons. If you are able to effectively engage them, they will be your long term brand loyalist and word of mouth influencer.
The ‘Business minded’ entrepreneur
There are a lot of Facebook users who are using social media as a platform to promote themselves, their products and services. There are two ways of doing it – forming a group or creating a fan page. Both are equally effective as the objective here is to segment your catchment and that people who join your fan page are your possible target audience.
I know of a renowned photographer who posts his photos and updates on his fan page – in a way promoting his work and reminding people about his services. A speech coach uses his fan page to promote his latest book. A prominent business owner of a fashion chain had used Facebook to communicate promotional details of her outlets, her whereabouts, spiritual views and philosophies in life.
You can turn the social media into a market place filled with business transactions, networking and business ideas. It is how far you want to go.
The business minded entrepreneurs have only one objective in their minds, i.e to push the brand equity of their company or themselves via social media. While they might not be your direct customers, business minded entrepreneurs could be key decision makers for certain products or services like hotels, restaurants, marketing services, professional services, etc. From a PR perspective, if you are able to engage these entrepreneurs and draw them closer to your brand, such efforts might have a long term positive effect on your branding efforts.
The ‘Opinion leader’
These are people who are early adopters and trendsetters in their respective fields. More often than not, the opinion leader should have more than 1,000 friends in the friend’s list. And since reach is all about numbers, having more friends will translate to having more power and influence.
There are a few celebrities who are very active on Facebook with friend’s list running by the thousands. Some bloggers also do have very strong following and are powerful opinion leaders.
Opinion leaders will share views and elicit several responses, whether good or bad. The point here is that their posts engage people and will garner responses due to the relationships built over time. Some strategies used by opinion leader include ‘retweeting quotes used by prominent figures or churning personal thoughts that are controversial and though-provoking. The strategy is to evoke responses using out of the box ideas and seeking participation from other users.
All brands should aim to target the opinion leaders. The opinion leaders are trend setters and influencers who have the power and position to influence people. Opinion leaders are most likely the innovators or early adopters in taking up new ideas or setting trends for the general public to follow. All brands must aspire to be in the consideration set for most opinion leaders. Once you are able to reach this core group of users, the subsequent waves of customers will follow suit accordingly.
Gamers are people who don’t like to express themselves but the only activity they love is gaming. Bejeweled used to be extremely popular but the craze has since died down. Games that are popular amongst gamers are FarmVille, Zoo world and Café world, to name a few. Gamers do comment and communicate once in a while. But with most gamers, once their gaming mode is switch on, you can hardly find them.
The proportion of facebook gamers is still small. Gamers are generally visual and motion centric in nature. To engage them, think along the lines of creating games or contest which requires them to act upon it.
The Tweeterers are users who like to share friends’ links, videos or updates to their own friends. Tweeterers generally do not generate their contents but share ‘third party’ contents with others.
Tweeterers are quick to share other people’s contents on facebook. They generally do not create content but like to associate themselves to certain issues/ products. To engage the tweeterers and to get them to share your contents to their friends, focus on creating attention grabbing headlines accompanied by a nice visual. It should work for them.
The ‘CAM whore, aka attention seeker’
Cam whore is a person who likes to post profile pictures as status updates. He or she likes to upload nice makeover pictures and perhaps group pictures taken over a meal or outing. This user would have at least 50 photo albums with tons of pictures uploaded. To the Cam whore, pictures paint a thousand words.
The Cam whore is likely an attention seeker as well. He or she will post about everything. ‘ i am eating ice cream’, ‘Avatar is a great show’, ‘love my sunday’, etc. The cam whore just wants YOUR ATTENTION!
Digital camera makers or smartphones might want to consider targeting the Camwhores. They are perfect brand champions for you if you provide them with a sample set or even launch social media campaigns that encompass photo sharing and editing. They love to take pictures and share them with their friends. For other brands who want to target the camwhores, the social media campaigns could be formulated such that users must post a picture of themselves with the product/service in order to participate in the competition.
The ‘Social Media butterfly’
The social media butterflies are extroverts who will initiate a conversation with you. These are people go around adding strangers as friends, initiate chats, and make friends along the way. In their status updates, you will often see ‘so and so is now friends with xxx and 25 other people’. In social media, our natural defences are down and we are more open to making friends with people we do not know.
When a social butterfly add you on Facebook, do review the authenticity and sincerity based on his message to you, profile pictures and whatever info you can draw from. Ignore their add if you are not comfortable. Social media butterflies should be careful in not being seen as too pushy or contrived. While it is good to be friendly, some people might be put off by their actions.
Burger King launched a widely received social media campaign, ‘Whopper Sacrifice, drop 10 friends and get a free whopper’ before facebook disabled it. To engage the social media butterflies, revolve your campaign around adding friends or getting them to rally their friends to join a fanpage. Create conversations with these people and they will truly enjoy it.
There are people who lobby certain causes via Facebook. Some causes include ‘Save animals with just a click. Muilee.com donates to SPCA Singapore’ and ‘I’m pissed that my prime minister’s getting $3.1million this year’. Basically these are people who have a passion for certain causes and aspire to make a difference by rallying people to join them. Be a change agent by campaigning causes which you strongly believe in.
The campaigners are people who are interested to align their social media persona to certain social causes. If your organisation is promoting ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ as part of your Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, identify users who are also supporting or campaigning on the same cause, and get them to be part of your group.
The 10 social media characters are interesting psychographic attributes and traits for any brand manager to study and tap on in the Facebook environment. The key word to any social media campaign is ‘ENGAGE, ENGAGE and ENGAGE’. Regardless of their psychographics, social media campaigns that can truly connect and engage the souls and hearts of people, would up the ante in building brand equity for themselves.
Dennis Toh, a freelance publicist that provides communication services to help business owners boost their sales, create public awareness and build credibility with media publicity. He is also a lecturer with a local polytechnic.