The UK’s Office of Communications has released an interesting report – titled Social Networking – A quantitative and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use – examining the rise of social networking sites, and the people who use them.

Their reports combine both qualitative and quantitative research within the UK market. Interestingly, they have been able to devise a quantitatively-sound segmentation for users of social networking sites:

Social networkers differ in their attitudes to social networking sites and in their behaviour while using them. Ofcom’s qualitative research indicates that site users tend to fall into five distinct groups based on their behaviours and attitudes. These are as follows:

  • Alpha Socialisers (a minority) – people who used sites in intense short bursts to flirt, meet new people, and be entertained.
  • Attention Seekers – (some) people who craved attention and comments from others, often by posting photos and customising their profiles.
  • Followers – (many) people who joined sites to keep up with what their peers were doing.
  • Faithfuls – (many) people who typically used social networking sites to rekindle old friendships, often from school or university.
  • Functionals – (a minority) people who tended to be single-minded in using sites for a particular purpose.

Even more interesting is their categorisation of non-users of social networking sites:

Non-users also appear to fall into distinct groups; these groups are based on their reasons for not using social networking sites:

  • Concerned about safety – people concerned about safety online, in particular making personal details available online.
  • Technically inexperienced – people who lack confidence in using the internet and computers.
  • Intellectual rejecters – people who have no interest in social networking sites and see them as a waste of time.

You can download the full report here, and review the Executive Summary here.