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Developing a motivation-based segmentation typology of Facebook users

Wei Shao (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Southport, Australia)
Mitchell Ross (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Debra Grace (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Southport, Australia)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 5 October 2015




The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the importance of user-motivation as well as demographics in developing an effective segmentation strategy of Facebook users. Additionally, the paper seeks to add validity to the scale developed by Park et al. (2009) by using a full spectrum of Facebook users.


A self-administered survey was employed to explore access motivations, frequency and session duration of Facebook users. The survey was e-mailed to 2,129 potential respondents with 530 valid responses received. Data were initially analysed by hierarchical cluster analysis to develop the cluster solution. Cluster means were then used as cluster centres for a K-means cluster analysis for all cases. The relationship between the clusters and Facebook activity variables was investigated through ANOVA while independent samples t-tests were employed to analyse the relationship between motivations and demographics. Lastly χ2-tests were used to explore the relationship between Facebook user segments and demographics.


The results indicate four distinct types of Facebook users: Devotee, Agnostic, Socializer and Finder. Devotees were highly positive about Facebook use while Agnostics were least motivated to use Facebook. Socializers were motivated to use Facebook for socializing and entertainment while Finders were motivated to use Facebook for information seeking. These four distinct groups are validated by examining their individual behaviour regarding frequency of access to Facebook and the average amount of time spent on Facebook per visit. Demographic variables such as gender and age were found to be significantly related to Facebook user-motivation and segmentation.

Practical implications

For marketers who communicate with market segments via social media, the findings of this study are highly significant. To date, marketers have found it difficult to fully exploit the benefits of Facebook. The authors argue this is due to a tendency to consider Facebook users as a single segment rather than understanding the nuances of different user segments. This research provides marketers with a motivation and demographic segmentation strategy for Facebook users.


Despite the popularity of Facebook as a communication channel, from a marketing perspective little is known regarding Facebook user segments. This research addresses this gap by undertaking a segmentation study of Facebook users. A segmentation typology is developed in which both Facebook user motivations as well as demographic variables are found to be useful in describing user segments. Additionally, the study makes important theoretical contributions by extending uses and gratifications theory to the Facebook context and adding validity to the scale developed by Park et al. (2009) for use with the full spectrum of Facebook users.



Shao, W., Ross, M. and Grace, D. (2015), "Developing a motivation-based segmentation typology of Facebook users", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 1071-1086.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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