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The 'Ranters' and 'Peacocks' - new personality types in social media revealed

10 Apr 2013

A new research project investigating the rising influence of social media in people's lives has uncovered a new breed of internet personalities. 

The personality types are based on the results of an in-depth, month-long experiment, where people were forced to change their social media habits, and on an associated nationwide survey examining people's social media attitudes and behaviours. 

Both the experiment and survey were carried out for first direct , which used the results to identify a broad range of personality types in social media - from the obsessive 'ultras' to the self-promoting 'peacocks'. 

Dr David Giles, an expert in social media behaviour and a Reader in Media Psychology at Winchester University, said: "Most people using social media will display a combination of those personality types, and they may even behave differently on Facebook, for example, to how they behave on Twitter. 

"Smartphones have made accessing social media platforms much easier, with the result that many people spend a lot more time chatting with friends in cyberspace than they do face to face or over the phone. That can change their relationships with people and, as we are now seeing, it can also change their personalities." 

This increased understanding of how people use the likes of Facebook and Twitter will help first direct develop new online customer service initiatives. 

Rebecca Dye, social media manager at first direct , said: "A lot of people admit to behaving very differently in social media to how they behave in the 'real world', and it's important we're aware of that when we're dealing with customers through a variety of channels." 

Social media users may, of course, display behaviours linked to one or more of the typologies, depending on the extent of their activity and on the frequency and type of content they create. The typologies are:


The Ultras                     

They are fanatically obsessed with Facebook or Twitter. They have smartphone apps and check their feeds dozens of times a day - even when at work. 

The survey revealed 14 per cent of Facebook users spend at least two hours a day on the network - rising to one in five (21 per cent) of 18 to 24-year-olds.


The Deniers                      

They claim social media doesn't control their lives, but the reality is very different. If they cannot access their favourite network they can become anxious and feel 'isolated'. 

In the survey, 20 per cent of Facebook users said they would feel "anxious" or "isolated" if they had to deactivate their accounts, compared to 17 per cent of Twitter users.


The Dippers   

Although more than half the UK population is signed up to Facebook or Twitter, not all are regular users. 'Dippers' access their pages infrequently, often going days - or even weeks - without tweeting or posting an update. 

More than 30 per cent of Facebook and Twitter users access the sites for less than 30 minutes a day.


The Virgins                       

New people who sign up to social networks may struggle initially to get to grips with the workings of Facebook and Twitter, but they may go on to become Ultras! 

More than 1.7 million people in the UK signed up to Facebook in 2012.


The Lurkers                      

Hiding in the shadows of cyberspace, they rarely participate in social media conversations - often because they worry about having nothing interesting to say. 

In the survey, 45 per cent of Facebook users described themselves as 'observers', compared to 39 per cent of Twitter users.


The Peacocks             

They are easily recognised because they love to show everyone how popular they are. They compete with friends for followers or fans, or how many 'likes' or re-tweets they get. 

More than one in ten (11 per cent) of Twitter users say it is important for them to have more 'followers' on their feed than their friends.


The Ranters                      

Meek and mild in face-to-face conversation, they are highly opinionated online. Social media allows them to have strong opinions without worrying how others will react. 

11 per cent of Facebook users and 17 per cent of Twitter users say the networks allow them to be more opinionated than they are otherwise.


The Ghosts                       

Some in social media are worried about giving out personal information to strangers, so they create usernames to stay anonymous or have noticeably sparse profiles and timelines.  

'Security' is cited as a reason for not using their real names by 15 per cent of Twitter users and six per cent of Facebook users.


The Changelings                                         

For some people, being anonymous isn't enough. They also adopt very different personalities, confident in the knowledge that no-one knows their real identity. 

Around five per cent of Facebook and Twitter users say hiding their identities in social media allows them more freedom to express their opinions.


The Quizzers                    

'Quizzers' like to ask questions on Facebook and Twitter in order to start conversations and avoid the risk of being left out. 

According to the first direct survey, around one in ten Facebook and Twitter users say they enjoy using their pages to ask questions, rather than just posting messages or updates.


The Informers                  

Information is currency in social media. Being the first to spot something interesting and share it earns kudos and - just as importantly -  more followers and fans. 

One in five (20 per cent) of Twitter users and 22 per cent of Facebook users say they like to share information and links with their friends and followers.


The Approval-seekers     

They worry about how many likes/comments/re-tweets they get, constantly checking their feeds and timelines, because they link endorsement to popularity. 

One in seven (14 per cent) of Facebook users say it is important others 'like' or reply to their updates, versus nine per cent of Twitter users who say replies and re-tweets are important.




Notes to Editors:  

Dr David Giles and Rebecca Dye are available for print and broadcast interviews on request. 

A copy of the full report (insert title) is available on request, or can be downloaded from 

Full details of the first direct /OnePoll survey are available on request. 

Media enquiries:       Nina Hands or Phil Reed, Aberfield PR         0113 357 2070



                                    Amanda Brown, PR Manager, first direct     0113 276 6700


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