The four types of social media user in the academic and research community

April 29, 2014

Within the framework of the Leibniz Association's Science 2.0 research group, the Goportis – Leibniz Library Network for Research Information recently participated in a nationwide study involving academics and researchers from universities and Leibniz Association research institutions.

The purpose of the "Science 2.0 Survey" was to examine the use of social media tools in science and research. By participating in this collaborative study, the Leibniz Library Network hoped to discover how publication and research processes are changing in order to optimally tailor its own services to reflect these changes.

One of the key goals was to learn more about the usage patterns and behaviours of target groups, and the study has provided some important pointers to assist in this task.

The preliminary part of the study identified four types of social media user who display significantly different patterns of behaviour in their use of and attitudes toward social Web applications. These four user types were each named after one of their defining characteristics to clearly distinguish their different traits in the study.

Type 1 is "Ms Maker", a research assistant or professor who uses Web 2.0 services anywhere from once to several times a week and who is very conscious of privacy concerns in regard to the Internet. She makes careful use of selected tools, primarily for pragmatic reasons in situations where they make her work easier.

Type 2, "Mr Tech", is a research assistant or professor who uses Web 2.0 services to much the same degree as Ms Maker. Where he differs from Ms Maker, however, is in his enthusiasm for new media and technical devices. When it comes to using applications, the "fun factor" plays a key role for Mr Tech.

The third type of user, "Mr Classic", takes a very different attitude toward the subject. Typically older and for the most part male, this type of user is a professor or research assistant who uses Web 2.0 services only occasionally and who tends to be less enthusiastic about new media and less self-confident when it comes to using the associated tools. He makes use of individual applications – frequently learning platforms – primarily because this is expected of him in his teaching role.

His opposite number is type 4, "Mr. Nerd". A research assistant or professor, Mr. Nerd is an intensive user of Web 2.0 services who has relatively few concerns about privacy issues. In addition this user type does not hesitate to use Web 2.0 applications and is very enthusiastic about using new media. Wikipedia is the tool that is used most by all four types of user.

Explore further: Organizing your Web connections: Social media sorted with smart software

More information: www.goportis.de/

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