Social media personalities and Personas 2.0

I’m featured today in a Hot Studios interview with me about my social media personality types. Coincidentally, or serendipitously, I’ve been working for the past several days on conversation models for social media designers, interaction designers, and social media user experience experts.

There is a organization in the forms of talk we get even in openly-structured social media tools like twitter. It’s less noticeable, but I’ve recently returned to Eric Berne’s Games People Play for more inspiration from his transactional analysis (one of many psychological theories of communication and interaction). And of course symbolic interactionism always applies well to social media when modified for the screen.

I think these personality types will become even more powerful when put into a social dynamics of social media. This would entail:

  • which user personality types can form symbiotic and mutually-beneficial relationships
  • which user personality types tend to produce large volumes of conversation
  • what kinds of conversation those are
  • which user personality types tend to organize flows of attention (especially in open social spaces like twitter)
  • which user personality types tend to aggregate lasting audiences, followings, fans, and so on

Because social media scale up and “get organized” on their own, it’s very likely that we’ll be able to find social patterns in their growth. And it’s likely that these patterns will correlate with the psychology of users who lead, follow, maintain, and grow online communities.

Open social spaces grow differently than social networks in which relationships are symmetrical. I think the absence of “real friendship” as a constraint on relationships creates a need for other means of surfacing and validating social hierarchy/position/rank. Influence measured as follower count is absurdly over-simplified. We’re all much better judges of who’s who than that!

The sociology of face to face interactions and social encounters (Goffman) however generally leaves individual psychology out of the picture. Interactions are understood as having a frame (including an opening, middle, and closing) that is strong enough to structure interactions without having to go to individual motives, interests, or needs. But that doesn’t work for us. User-centric design, and our physical separation from one another in social media, requires that our interaction models account for benefits to the user individually as well as socially or collectively.

So some theory of psychology of online interaction is required. And the next natural step is a social dynamics that shows how different personalities, together, produce the kinds of content and activity that are effective and sustainable on social media. A social dynamics would take us a long way from the original concept of personas!

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