What Your Social Media Activity Says About Your Personality
I’m a sucker for a good study, and a team of Asian researchers have come out with one about how your social networking sites can accurately predict your personality—something you may (or may not) want to do if you run your own business.
There is a theory out there, which emerged on the scene in 1992, called the Five Factor Model (FFM) that states that human personality can be divided into five categories: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Here’s what they mean:
- Openness: inventive and curious. This person has a strong intellectual curiosity and is likely to be able to think outside the box.
- Conscientiousness: efficient and organized. This person is disciplined, organized, and achievement-oriented. They exhibit planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
- Extraversion: outgoing and energetic. This person is social, assertive, and talkative. They seek stimulation in the company of other people.
- Agreeableness: friendly and compassionate. This is a compassionate and cooperative person. They like to be helpful.
- Neuroticism: sensitive and nervous. This person experiences unpleasant emotions, like anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability, quite easily.
As a freelancer, I want to be perceived as open, conscientious, outgoing, and friendly. I do not want to be seen as neurotic.
When it comes to your online persona, for example, it’s been found that extraverted people have a higher level of online activity, and can make new friends with strangers more easily than people who fall into the other personality categories.
The Asian researchers from Beijing’s Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as Singapore’s Bioinformatics Institute surveyed 200 students who use Renren—China’s version of Facebook—for their study. They found that social networking behaviors and real world behaviors have a lot in common.
Here are some of the findings from the study:
- People with high scores in openness: These people have a high usage of social networking sites and are eager to make new friends. Their statuses are updated frequently.
- People with high scores in conscientiousness: More likely to ask for help or suggestions on their social networking sites. They are also more likely to do the same for others.
- People with high scores in extraversion: These people have the most friends. They are also more likely to republish and comment on other peoples’ statuses. These folks also tend to use emoticons.
- People with high scores in agreeableness: These people share more blogs with their friends and followers. They are more active with online chatting and are more likely to use emoticons.
- People with high scores in neuroticism: These people tend to have blogs or status updates that showcase their anger or make other people angry.
Do you have an active Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ Page, and LinkedIn account? I bet I can accurately peg you as an extrovert with a tendency to be open to new experiences.
But what does it mean? A couple of things.
For one, if our personalities can be measured by our Facebook page, marketers can target us. And without our permission.
News organizations can tailor their content to our un-expressed — and, yet, omni-expressed — preferences. Employers can analyze us. And we will have opted into it all — not through checking a box, but simply through expressing ourselves on the Web. —The Atlantic
It’s also another wake up call for freelancers that we need to be super conscious of how our social media persona brands ourselves. If a prospective client or employer looks us up on Facebook—and they frequently do—what are they going to see? Are they going to see someone who complains all the time about their personal life? Are they going to see someone who attacks other people or companies in negative posts? Are they going to see that you are updating your page 25 times a day…instead of working?
The sales manager I work with tracks her salespeople’s activity on Facebook as a way to find out if they are really doing their job while they are out on the road. Frequent status updates tell her that her employees are distracted and not doing the job they are being paid to do. Same goes with Twitter.
What does your social networking say about you? Make sure you are conscious of how you are being perceived by others.