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Down the rabbit hole into the land of social media

Like Alice going down the rabbit hole, or Dorothy on arrival in the Land of Oz when she pronounced, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” any new social media user is likely to experience a sense of bemusement and wonder.

Regardless of which platform one uses, when entering the world of social media for the first time, a sense of bemusent and befuddled is an understatement.

Classic stories such as The Wizard of Oz and Alice In Wonderland provide wonderful comparisons to the world of social media when you consider the grinning cats, mad hatters, munchkins, witches and other peculiar characters both Alice and Dorothy faced. When starting out in the world of social media, one is faced by equally strange, intriguing and wonderful characters.

So, using the characters from these beloved stories as a guide, let’s look at some of the archetypes you may find in the world of social media.

Glinda The Good Witch/The White Rabbit – The Proselytiser

This is probably the first social media user type you come across, and is most often found in your offline life. They are the very reason you are online right now. Just as Dorothy listened to Glinda and followed the yellow brick road further into Oz, or as Alice followed the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, ‘The Proselytiser,’ is that family member, friend or co-worker who kept on waxing lyrical about social media, talking you down until you followed them into this world.

Ironically, any successful journey into social media will result in you becoming ‘The Proselytiser,’ thus completing the social media circle of life.

Alice/Dorothy – The new kid on the network

Just as both Alice and Dorothy arrived entirely at a loss in Wonderland and the Land of Oz respectively, the ‘New Kid On The Network,’ is just as bewildered. What do you post/write/link? How you do that? The questions feel like they will never end. This is nothing to be ashamed of though. Most veterans are more than willing to help out, for regardless of whether they’re willing to admit it or not, everybody started out like this.

Nevertheless, like our intrepid heroines, sooner rather than later, you have to boldly strike out on your own or risk being ignored.

The Wizard Of Oz – The Status Seeker

‘The status seeker’ is one of the harder types of social media users to identify for they manifest in manifold ways. From attempting to be witty and humourous (emphasis on the attempting), making outrageously controversial statements, or dropping names and emphasing the sheer ‘fabulosity’ of their lives, ‘The Status Seeker,’ like the Wizard of Oz only has one concern. Popularity.

In their minds social media is a competition where the one with the most followers and friends wins. However, just as the Wizard of Oz was exposed to be just a normal man, more often than not, ‘The Status Seeker,’ is not as special as they present themselves to be.

The Wicked Witch Of The West/The Queen of Hearts – The Troll

All stories have to have their resident ‘baddie’ and in the world of social media there’s no character that is more insufferable than the troll. Just as the Wicked Witch of the West and the Queen of Hearts were in Oz and Wonderland. What the troll does is find ways to get people riled up, through outright insults or controversy. Whilst it may seem there is nothing that separates this second trolling style from the ‘Status Seekers,’ there is.

The status seeker is controversial as a means to gain status. The troll stirs controversy for nothing more than his own amusement. Fact is, very little, if any of what they write is what they actually believe.

Sadly, unlike the wicked witch of the west, it’s not as simple as throwing a bucket of water at a troll to make him disappear. However, there is one tried and trusted method of dealing with them, ignore them; for, without your consternation and anger, the troll will go away. As is repeated across the web — “Don’t feed the trolls!”

The Caterpillar/The Cheshire Cat – The Social Media Guru

Like the Caterpillar and his knowledge of Wonderland, the social media guru is never reticent to impart his never-ending fountain of knowledge on the world of social media. However, like the Cheshire Cat, their blog, (and it is always a blog) always seems to have the tone of a smarmy grin that reminds you that you’re just not as smart as they are.

Many slavishly follow the advice of these self-proclaimed gurus. Corporates pay these gurus’ exorbitant amounts of money to consult and tell them just how to “optimise their social media use,” and “manage their brands and reputations”. But like the equally dubious homeopaths, the medicine they dispense only seems to be effective because they say it is.

Like both Dorothy and Alice realise at the end of their respective journeys, what they experienced was just a mirror of their real lives and with social media, it’s the same. In much the same way that no person can perfectly fit into any personality type, be it star signs, or the most well thought out and researched psychological profile, no social media user you come across will perfectly fit into any of these categories.

Therefore, don’t be surprised if suddenly someone you’d always thought of as a scarecrow suddenly exhibits Toto-like tendencies. However, like Alice and Dorothy’s journeys, the more unexpected and surprising things are, the better, and whomever you engage with on social media, the same applies. So with this guide in hand, let your journey into social media begin.

Author | Mvelase Peppetta

Mvelase Peppetta
Mvelase is a Senior Account Manager at Irvine Bartlett one of the most sought after full service public relations companies in South Africa. Mvelase is passionate about all things digital and the social media landscape, particularly as it relates to the integration of digital public relations management within the traditional... More

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