Int. J. of Web Based Communities   »   2011 Vol.7, No.1



Title: A typology of social networking sites users


Author: Petter Bae Brandtzaeg, Jan Heim


University of Oslo, and SINTEF ICT, Forskningsvn. 1, 0314 Oslo, Norway.
SINTEF ICT, Forskningsvn. 1, 0314 Oslo, Norway


Abstract: Social networking sites (SNSs) are said to be new important means of participating, communicating, and gaining social capital. Thus, increasingly fragmented user population and user behaviours in SNSs make it important to achieve more knowledge about SNS users and their participation inequality. This article proposes a user typology for SNSs, which identifies and describes the variety of ways in which people use SNSs. An analysis of the survey data from 5,233 respondents in four major Norwegian SNSs showed five distinct user types: 1) sporadics; 2) lurkers; 3) socialisers; 4) debaters; 5) actives. Both quantitative and qualitative analysis validates the typology. The SNS user typology contributes to a more nuanced and precise measure of how future research should identify and predict SNS use and better understand participation inequality in SNSs. The identification of various user types indicates a 50-30-20 rule for participation in small and locally bounded online communities compared to the existing 90-9-1 rule. Finally, the results could help the design of SNSs in tailoring them to user type.


Keywords: social networking sites; SNSs; online communities; participation inequality; users; SNS user typology; personality types; Norway; user types; web based communities; virtual communities.


DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2011.038124


Int. J. of Web Based Communities, 2011 Vol.7, No.1, pp.28 - 51


Available online: 18 Jan 2011



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