Influencers, Promoters, Inviters and other social media user types

I happened on a local bookstore going out of business yesterday and raided the psychology section, picking up a number of cardinal texts at $2.98 a pop. One of them was Please Understand Me, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, of the Keirsey personality test. Actually, they call it temperament, not personalities. Reading the complete descriptions of what makes up INTFs and ENTPs et al was a real eye-opener, not to mention an entertaining and insightful read.

Character types, modified to account for the effects of social media and related technologies on interaction and communication, and taking into account users’ communication styles, relationship preferences, and sense of self and self image, could be a powerful addition to current efforts to architect social analytics and conversation analytics programs.

The state of the art in measuring and making use of social media users and social graphs still centers on relatively straight-forward views of influence, attention, intention, and social capital. While these are more easily measured on closed social networks, a model for analysis of distributed social media tools, including twitter and feed-based apps, is clearly on a lot of people’s minds. PR, marketing, advertising, branding, and customer service industries all want in on social media, and whether they stand by the sidelines watching, tracking, and monitoring, or jump into the river of conversation and engage, analytical tools and engagement applications will be essential. Nobody, but nobody, could possibly manage to be in the flow everywhere and at all times.

Traditional mass media approaches to audience metrics may have given us the right questions, and brought us to an appropriate starting point. But social media approaches will be needed now if we’re to make proper sense of audience behavior. And here’s where character psychologists like Keirsey might be of help.

I have an approach to social interaction design that takes conventional view of user experience and interaction design and extends it to social media users. With an eye to interpersonal dynamics, communication, and social practices, I like to call user behaviors “competencies.” Each of us, as users interacts with social media and with others using it according to personal preferences, tastes, and most importantly, perceptions and interpretations. Our social skills online are social competencies. But each of us is different in our uses and, as psychologists would say, our behavior is informed by our psychology.

While this might be looking down the road a couple years, wouldn’t an effective social analytics tool, and engagement platform (say, for advertisers and marketers) use not only social metric data but also psychological and personality models? Take the concept of the influencer, for example. As it stands today, an influencer is a well connected, credible, trusted, and active. He or she may also be on topic. That’s not currently in the model, but should and probably will be, shortly, as we fold in not only who the person is but what s/he talks about (with credibility). So we might add expert to influencer.

But there are other kinds of user types, too, whose role in conversation can benefit specific marketing, branding, or advertising interests. There’s the expert. The inviter. The emcee. The connector. The artist. The follower. And more. Keirsey has 16 types, I’ve got a similar number, tho based around communication and presencing styles. The inviter, for example, would serve the needs of event promoters. The follower, the needs of PR and news dissemination. The expert validates new products. The emcee gathers together like-minded friends, and would benefit branding or entertainment rollouts.

This is a new medium, and it begs for appropriate analysis. The metrics used in mass media measurement serve the purposes of a medium in which two-way and friend or peer-network constrained interactions don’t exist. The future is engagement. Granted, masses of data will have to be mine and modeled. But isn’t that what we’re good at?

There’s consistency in psychology, and applied appropriately and insightfully, durability in behavior and relationships. The noise will subside if we can wise up and if we put users first. If we fail, the doors blow open and a river of spam will inundate the flow. Either way, the mass marketplace is going to enter the stream.

Keirsey temperament overview see:

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