The 15 Faces of Facebook and What to Sell Them

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I’ve had a Facebook account since early 2007, but resisted its advances like catcalls from drunken sailors. My first few friend requests didn’t exactly inspire hope – random co-workers, curious exes, and forgotten classmates .  What kind of voyeuristic, Orwellian nightmare was this?? And, why were my ‘friends’ so damn old and frumpy?! Where were the celebrities, billionaires, and supermodels? Was I not the youthful, gregarious intellectual I thought I was? Surely, this was a mistake…

Despite years of self-delusion and indifference, I finally consummated my cold, distant relationship with Facebook by uploading my contacts in October 2010. This was no selfless act of love. Like many corporations and fellow narcissists, I salivated at the chance to use it to promote my “brand” –blogbook, appearance on Ellen.  The last year of this reluctant romance taught me that Facebook is no easy prey. It’s an amazing social experiment that can be trivial, passionate, funny, and deeply personal – all at the same time.  It’s an addictive, evolving organism with a rhythm and personality of its own – one that can be prickly and unkind to marketing and self-promotion. This fact is often lost on businesses.

If, like me, you’ve ever tried to claw your way out of a mind-numbing meeting on how to “market on Facebook”, salvation is here. “The 15 Faces of Facebook” will be my ever-evolving analysis of who dwells on Facebook, what motivates them, and whether they’ll hear your Twilight howls of commerce.  IdeaFaktory is about to save you hundreds of thousands of dollars on behavioral psychologists and social media research.  Then again, like any good drug dealer, the first hit is always free.

The 15 Faces…of Facebook

(best viewed on desktop)

The ‘15 Faces’©
Their style
Messages they can hear
1. Resistor
So extreme, that The Resistor refuses to join Facebook at all. He knows it’s part of some plot to sell his birth date and sitcom preferences to the Russians. This person either has a stockpile of gold and weapons in his basement or is part of a bong-smoking tribe whose rituals make it increasingly difficult to type…or own a computer.
  • Conspiracy messages
  • Ideas on how to ‘stay off the grid’
  • Apocalyptic theories
  • Anti-government messages
  • Weapons
  • Only a call from a future him or visit from a Terminator will reach thisrecluse

2. Forever Newbie
Usually old people who always screw up their settings or post to a wall instead of sending a private message. Their kids often have to intervene to keep them from posting their social security numbers. Other low-tech middle-aged people fall into this category.
  • Connect with family and kids
  • Share daily minutia
  • Learn to…
  • Financial security
  • Making things easy
  • Requests for their social security #
3. Lurker
Could end up in the danger zone. Stares at people’s pictures, but never shares or comments. It’s the digital equivalent of the guy who one day wipes out his family and his gumshoe neighbors praise how quiet he was and ‘always kept to himself’. Usually not dangerous, but not eager to share. Distrusts the medium, but feels a need to “spy” on others.
  • Photos of people
  • Secrets
  • Gossip/rumors
  • Life updates
  • Family information
4. Protector
Rarely posts. Impossible to find. Uses fake names, codes, few pictures. Won’t accept invitations. Sets the hurdle so high to friend them, you’ll have to send clean urine if you want a piece of this friendship. Rare and guarded interactions. Friend group size can range dramatically since they are very conscious of status, class and how they come off. Usually have fulfilling friendships and real-world relationships.
  • Who knows? We can’t friend them!
  • Intimate relationships with few people
  • Offline activities that let them connect personally
  • Life events get them out of their protective shell

5. Zentrist
They exhibit good balance and judgment.

Devoted friend, engages easily in online conversation. Has a rich life not ruled by Facebook. Says things that are interesting without airs. Share things that are happening in their lives without making others feel bad about it. Balanced communication. Well-rounded. Let’s face it, they’re better than us. Typically female.
  • Random thoughts

  • Entertainment or humor
  • Answer a friend’s question
  • Diverse interests
  • Inspirational thoughts
6. Day Tripper
Always checking in or out of some place that most people don’t want to visit. Oh, Alabama airport lounge, again?! Most posts are routine and uninspired. They’re just looking for a friend…or a romp with a stranger at the motel near the conference.
  • Recommend a restaurant or something to see in a city they’ll be in
  • Introduce them to a friend
  • Connections
7. The Mommy
Childbirth is a life-changing experience. That couldn’t be more evident on Facebook. To The Mommy, it wouldn’t matter if New York was taken over by Zombies or Lindsay Lohan joined Al Qaeda because Johnny just drooled mashed carrots all over the cat. Precious! Every post says, ‘my kids are my world, they consume all my thoughts.’
  • Any baby related stuff

  • Other mommy stories
  • Cute baby pictures
  • Health information
  • Human interest stories
  • Protecting family
  • Children’s charities

8. App-timist
People who subscribe to every game and novelty app in the world…and tell you about it. They’re always on the verge of exposing their friends to some unsavory virus that will destroy the world, or at the very least, post creepy stories on their wall.
  • New, shiny ways to analyze their activities
  • New ways to look at their digital world
9. Soapboxer
Soapboxers have one issue or cause and they can’t stop posting about it. It could be a favorite football team, but more often, they’re trying to save the world or rage against the machine…from the comfort of their computer. From fighting a Zionist war to keeping illegals offshore – no matter what, don’t debate them! You’ll be typing well through the weekend. They are not above unfriending dissenters.
  • Issues compatible with their belief system
  • Stories from people similar to them
  • Like-minded people
  • Politics
  • Religion
10. Regreterist
These are people (often under 30) who definitely don’t spend time worrying about privacy settings. They just don’t worry. They are free spirits, go with the flow, and their profiles will eventually be used by their employers to build a case against them.
  • Duuude!! This place rocks!
  • Funny videos
  • Drunk photos
  • Ways to measure bodily fluids
  • Fashion/ bikini pictures
  • Sex


11. Promoter
The Promoter always has an agenda. It could be a cause, a charity, a small business. This person is going to promote their latest video, product, a 5am appearance on a Poughkeepsie radio show. They will friend EVERYBODY…
  • Promotional tools
  • Ways to grow their business
  • Places to find customers
  • Validation
  • Responses to their cause
12. Performer
Performers have purpose, but not an agenda per se. Every post has to be perfectly crafted, humorous and attract the adoration of others. These are usually people with some talent and are perfectionists of sorts. Often they are interesting people with something to say. Always on and rarely listening.
  • Recognition of their talent
  • Likes, new followers
  • Buying their books, watching their videos, attending their events
  • Best friend is on fire
13. Yoduh
Post wise quotes, but don’t have the creative horsepower of Performers. They wield the wisdom of others to achieve a similar result. Their posts can be inspirational, interesting or hollow. Generally, these are smart people in left-brain, less creative fields. They own graphing calculators.
  • Ancient proverbs
  • A call from Confucius or Tony Robbins
  • Financial insights
  • Pragmatic advice
  • Comedy, especially political


14. Over-sharer
No agenda. Pointless check ins, cafeteria, kitchen, every song they listen to, every credit card transaction, coupon notifications. They are mayors of things that have no formal government structure. Food pornographers.
  • New app that shares anything that’s left

  • Restaurant recommendations
  • Titles (Mayor, Emperor, Tsar, Jedi)
  • Shopping
15. MeMe
They never turn down a friend request. Like Highlanders killed other immortals to take their powers, MeMe’s absorb every friend request and comment for affirmation of attractiveness or popularity. Not prone to wit or wisdom, they are extrinsically focused, mostly posting photos of parties and events that Lurkers thrive on.
  • More and more friends
  • Likes
  • Photos
  • Tagged photos
  • Fashion/style
  • Luxury goods
  • Parties

Purebreeds vs Mutts

No one is just one thing, but some tread dangerously close. Just like in real life, different people and different situations bring out different qualities.  Plus Facebook, as a medium, can magnify or conceal certain personality traits. In analyzing my own Facebook behavior, I’m probably somewhere between Performer and Promoter with a touch of Protector and Soapboxer.  What can I say – I find the idea of an audience irresistible, I rabidly un-tag photos where I look chubby, and dammit, I have a book to promote!!!

So can you sell effectively on Facebook?

We are all living in this massive social experiment. The rules are constantly changing. When Facebook’s Timeline rolls out, the rules will change again.  So can you sell successfully on Facebook?  This post tells only part of the story. The complete answer is at the nexus of three things:

This post tells 1/3 of the story. The rest will be continued in future posts where I focus on fan pages, brands, and why you’re long overdue for a few hours away from a computer. Plus, there’ll always be a MeMe ready to party and a Regreterist there to post a picture of your drunken stupor.

Grain of salt

No analysis is perfect. Mine is based on just over a year of observing posts on my Facebook account and discussions with other trusted social observers – who demanded to stay anonymous for the inevitable fallout.  I know this list could have been biased by privacy settings, timing and frequency of log ins, Facebook’s algorithms, and personal biases. If you’re a teenager, retiree, or Jersey Shore refugee, your list could look entirely different…and tanned.

What Next?

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