Be a Social Superman – Understanding Your Social Media Audience

Braden Rindlisbacher

June 27, 2013

This past weekend I went to see the new Superman movie Man of Steel. Ever since I can remember I’ve always appreciated a good coming-of-age movie—and Superman lived up to that. To me, most superhero movies have a plot that surrounds the Who am I? WHAT am I? What am I to do with what I have? Where do I go from here?

One of my favorite lines from the film that illustrates this was featured in one of the movie trailers. It is counsel given to the young Clark Kent by his father Jonathan. He said, “You’re not just anyone. One day, you’re going to have to make a choice. You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, it’s going to change the world.”

This is sound advice. It is something applicable to all facets of life—even your social media presence and identified typology (I’ll explain further later).


Yes folks, I did just suggest that coming-of-age advice given to young Superman can relate to the motives for, and frequency of, your social media use.

Typology extends beyond any platform. It is much more than actively pinning, Tweeting, or even being linked in. In more simple terms, typology refers to the type of social media user someone is. Perhaps your business is in a place where it’s debating what it should have and where it should be going in its social efforts. Let’s explore that a bit.

Many studies on social media typologies have been conducted. Among many reasons, some of these studies have been carried out to debunk any theory that suggests social media users are all the same, to aid organizations and businesses in their marketing efforts, and to determine potential correlations between media usage and social implications. Some typology research has dubbed users as “advanced” or “sporadic,” while other studies have labeled interactions as “purposeful” or “open aimed.”

To help you better understand how your business or organization can reach your target audience in the social space, ask yourself these questions about your audience:

  • How does my audience utilize social media? For information, recreation, or both?
  • Is your audience made up of early adopters or newer users?
  • How active is your audience on social media? Are they more active on a particular social platform than others?
  • Does my audience contribute to the conversation or take a more passive approach?
  • What does my audience want to see on social media?

After defining how your target audience uses social media, you can probably classify your audience into a few groups or social typologies such as newcomers, observers, participants, casual likers, brand advocates, etc. Then you can further progress with your social efforts and answer these questions to create a strategic social media plan:

  • Which social assets do we utilize? Which do we need? Which should we focus on most?
  • How do we utilize these assets? What should we post? When is the best time to post?
  • What kind of messages are you sending to your audience?
  • Do you provide opportunities for engagement and conversation?

Understanding typology will benefit and enhance, the social media efforts of your business. You will better create interactions of value. You will better inform, entertain, learn about, and understand your audience. In short, you’ll become the social media superman that you are aiming to be.

Now, I realize that understanding the social media typology of your audience isn’t necessarily a crucial coming-of-age experience like that of Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, or Peter Parker. However, obtaining a greater understanding of where you stand provides powerful parallels. Everyone uses social media for a reason. The trick is nailing down who your business is online, and utilizing your assets the way you intend. Just like Clark Kent, this is something that you need to discover yourself—that your business isn’t just like all of the others. Decide what kind of presence you want to have. This is something you control, and whatever “that” is, has the power to change your business’s bottom line.