How To Identify And Approach Users On Social Media Platforms


Imagine interacting with a customer in person. They’re smiling at you, appreciating your work, your product, your brand. It’s clear your customer is happy. They are very likely to come back or spread the word about their positive experience. You smile back, appreciate their business and a relationship is established.

But what about happy customers on social media platforms? How are you going to find them? How do they interact with you? And how will you show them that you are smiling back?

The physical actions of customers in person that make us realize they are happy turn into virtual actions on social media. But the variety of actions users can perform and the ease with which they can perform them make it very difficult to isolate a truly active user from an over zealous surfer.

Likes, tweets, retweets, tagging, comments, shares and favorites, there are so many interactions constantly coming our way through social media that assessing the true value of these actions becomes tricky making it harder to identify those who are genuinely happy with your brand and can help you create a stronger online profile.

To understand why identifying different types of user on social media isn’t easy; let’s look at the picture below. If I asked you to identify a particular type of Orange – Clementines - would you be able to do that?


I imagine by the power of deduction, you can quite easily come to an answer. You may not know Clementines specifically but you know Oranges and you can point those out.

Now look at the picture below and try to do the same.


I’m guessing it was a lot harder this time. Especially if Oranges aren’t your forte. You probably had to do a bit of research on Clementines to help you figure out which ones they are in the above picture.

This is exactly the challenge with user interactions on social media. They are not a bowl of different fruits but rather a variety of the same fruit. Every user who ‘Likes’ your page isn’t necessarily an active user. And every user who comments on your post isn’t a Brand Ambassador.

Here are some of the different types of users that you may come across on social media platforms and how to identify them.


Anybody who connects with your brand on social media platforms is a visitor.

There are two kinds of visitors – Surfers and Accidentals.

To gain the most of your social media platforms, your goal would be to convert a user from any category into an Active user and eventually a Brand Advocate. Initially a Surfer may just be a Follower who isn’t very active but the goal should always be to turn any visitor into a Brand Advocate.

Your optimal goal (the red path) is of course to turn Surfers directly into Active Brand Advocates.


Surfers are visitors you have actively sought out. They could be targeted via marketing tools, online or offline ads and promotions. They could also connect with your brand through word-of-mouth marketing, i.e. a follower who shared your post or a follower who retweeted your tweet and so on.

Because they are open to suggestions, the better targeted your marketing and advertising strategies are, the more efficiently you will be able to convert them into Active users.


Accidentals kind of tripped and fell onto your social media pages. Although the likelihood of them converting into active users (or even just followers) is relatively less, they still have potential.

Retaining them could be done by a variety of means: attractive design and layout, highlighting deals and offers, refreshing content, an easily engage-able action (suggesting to ‘Like’ the page or ‘Click here’ to play our latest games).



These users are basically inactive users. They connected with you at some point but aren’t very interested or even aware of your brand’s daily activities. But many Followers tend to be in ‘sleep mode’ and can be woken up given the right incentives.

Once you reach a point where you are focusing on this level of users, you should start using analytic tools. On Facebook for instance, you should pay attention to the ‘Talking About’ to ‘Likes’ ratio to understand how many of your Followers are actually active on the page. Closely watch your insights to see what kind of posts are enticing followers to wake from their slumber and pay attention. For Twitter try using tools like TunkRank. Use Google Analytics for deeper insights and tools such as Simply Measured and Sprout Social to get to know your users better.


These are the ones to watch out for. They will follow your brand, like your posts, favorite your tweets but they will not support your brand in any real way. They are basically just over zealous surfers who often operate with personal agendas.


While having these kind of users is also important for your brand because they indirectly help maintain the enthusiasm amongst active users and help attract new users, the thing to watch out for is that you don’t end up spending too much time on them. Junkies are the ones often looking for attention through freebies, contests and irrelevant comments.

While it can be a deliberate decision to keep interaction with Junkies to a minimum, it is also a call you should take on instinct based on your experience while dealing with users on a daily basis.


These are users who are very interested in what your brand has to offer and will interact you’re your brand occasionally. Just a few positive experiences away from being Active users, they need a slight push to become more supportive.

Here are a few ways to encourage Interested users to become more Active:

-       Consistent communication

-       Incentives

-       Public appreciation

-       Go the extra mile where possible

-       Genuine and valid reasons to engage more often

-       Acknowledgement of consistent interest

Active Users

Your virtual gold mine, these users will get involved with your brand on a daily basis by contributing intelligently through comments, replies, retweets and so on. Active users can either be aware of the impact they have on your brand and will therefore expect a two-way interaction stream (Brand Advocates) or they will support your brand without knowing the positive influence they cause (Unaware Supporters).

Unaware Supporters

While these users aren’t aware of their impact and won’t really be expecting their support to be rewarded, it is important to do so because they may stop or minimize their positive activity at anytime because of lack of awareness or appreciation. Positive social media engagement strategies can help push these users towards being Brand Advocates.

Brand Advocates

These users will publicly support, recommend and promote your brand. They are the most influential users on your page and are willing to positively endorse your brand. They have had good experiences with you and are therefore at this stage.


However remember that they are also the ones with expectations that you have to manage. They are as likely to be vocal about their negative experiences as their positive ones.  Because they invest time and effort in your brand, they will expect consistently good customer service.


There will also be active haters on your social media platforms. People who have had bad experiences with your brand and will use social media platforms to publicly vocalize their experiences. These users are like ticking timebombs and can go off at anytime. It is very important to take a prompt and methodical approach to curb the damage Haters can cause to your brands online reputation. 

Do you have any interesting strategies to shape users into Brand Advocates online? Share your ideas in the comment box below.

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