Scroll through anyone’s Facebook page and you’ll soon get a sense of what they like (and don’t like), biographical info and other details. Maybe you, like me, are friends with chronic over-sharers. Or my personal pet peeve: people who post vague status updates that are blatant calls for attention.
Yet here’s a surprising piece of information—it’s not only what you post on Facebook but how you post it that can reveal insights about your personality, according to researchers at the University of Missouri (my alma matter—Go Tigers!).
They’ve developed a new scale that makes inferences about someone’s personality based on how they use Facebook. For example, if you tend to frequently update your status, interact with friends and upload photos (guilty as charged), then you’re likely “appetitive”—which means you lean toward high-risk activities.
If, on the other hand, you tend to simply scroll through the news feed without updating your status or posting comments, your Facebook behavior indicates you’re more reserved.
Of course, these findings aren’t exactly rocket science. What’s more interesting, however, is what these labels mean for marketers. Those of us who are “appetitive” might be more inclined to engage with more exciting media. Our reserved counterparts, on the other hand, will likely enjoy safer and more predictable media experiences, says Missouri doctoral student Heather Shoenberger.
And that information could help brands and marketers better tailor their campaigns to specific audiences, not to mention bring increased relevance and effectiveness to online ads.
Collecting and analyzing data that tells you more about your online audience is becoming infinitely more valuable in today’s digital landscape. With all of the online noise that consumers are subjected to on a daily basis, it’s increasingly critical to develop targeted, relevant materials that better speak to a person’s interests, habits and online activities. Sure, it can be slightly disconcerting when, after you’ve been browsing a certain online retailer, banner ads for that retailer later appear on other unrelated sites. Yet at the same time, you’re probably more likely to click on those ads since they speak to things in which you have an interest.
As for Shoenberger’s research, well, I think you could likely develop even more insights about Facebook users based on a wider range of behaviors. Perhaps that’s already in the works—if so, we’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, what did you think of Shoenberger’s research? And when it comes to your own Facebook use, do you tend to be more appetitive or aversive?
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