FriendFeed is a great service for finding and sharing information and generating discussions.  However, not all users are equal when it comes to their level of participation.  I’ll show you what I mean by looking by looking at where comments are being made and what their objectives are.

The Conversationalist

Participation LevelsThis type of participant is the social butterfly of FriendFeed.  As I attempt to show in the graph to the right, they comment on a wide variety of posts involving a wide variety of topics.  You’ll probably see them often on your FriendFeed page, continually bringing a refreshing assortment of new content from others.

Examples: Polly Roberts, Mitchell Tsai

The Marketer

This type of user is a combination of both Conversationalist and Researcher.  They want to let you know they are here by being active participants in many conversations; however, a notable percentage of their activity is on their own content.  They tend to have a smaller range of participation than Conversationalists but enjoy engaging with other familiar users. 

Examples: Loic Le Meur, Leo Laporte 

The Researcher

Highly inquisitive, this user’s main purpose is to collect information.  They pose questions and share thoughtful information to get feedback from the community. Most of their comments are on their own posts, unlike the Marketer or the Conversationalist, but they often stimulate thought and open up avenues for conversation.

Examples: Steve Rubel, Jeremiah Owyang

This isn’t to knock any of the example users I’ve listed.  Every user has their own purpose, preferences, and expectations when it comes to using services and I don’t like when the community starts to dictate etiquette. Why do I think it’s important? By highlighting how and why difference folks use social media, we can come to appreciate our differences instead of developing binding etiquette rules and chastising others for going against the grain. This kind of analysis can also be used with almost any other social service with commenting, like Twitter.

Obviously, it’s hard to group everyone into only 3 cookie cutter categories, but you can probably see how you tend to participate.  I think I’m somewhere in between a Marketer and a Researcher.  How about you?