Social Media Ecosystem – Hamsters, Owls, Frogs, Hyenas, and Ostriches

Social media mirrors the dynamic features of a natural ecosystem. Which niche you are going to fill? Here are four examples with loving snarkitude – feel free to add more in comments.

Hamsters constantly post small updates on every aspect of their life. Favorite habitats are Twitter and Facebook. They eat any small scrap of feedback up. Want to know what they had for dinner or what their kids did this afternoon? They will be spinning along on their wheel of self-absorption assuming the whole world is fascinated. If you are a dear friend or a family member I might be interested in this – in small doses. If you are an acquaintance – not so much.

Owls save their powder for long blog posts on their theory of life – posting infrequently but weighing down your RSS reader with dense prose. Favorite habitats are Blogger or their own bespoke blog. They eat spam comments by the barrel and sustain themselves on the infrequent genuine comment that validates their sense of importance. They sit on the Internet’s roof and hoot out who, how, and why? But really – why?

Frogs eat small meals all day long, hop around a lot, and don’t contribute much. They are quite flexible in habitat – able to survive in almost any media environment that has a steady stream of content. In search of sustenance they will be constantly moving between services scanning and clicking but never adding much to the conversation. Someone has to eat all those flies – but just remember what they flies themselves eat.

Hyenas are scavengers who constantly rebroadcast others’ content. Their habitats are YouTube, Scribd and other environments where pirated content flows freely. They eat the sweat of other people, adding a snarky sentence or two as needed. Copyright law is for suckers. The Lion King had their number.

Ostriches assume this whole thing is a fad and stick to their paper address book. Favorite habitat is the 1970’s. They eat Filofax pages and any bad news about social media. Most reporters at traditional media are Ostriches. Or Dodos. Extinction looms.

Most of us move around a bit – particularly as our social media perspective matures. Many people start as Hamsters and over time move to Owls or Frogs. Some dive in – discover they don’t like it one bit – and revert to Ostrich-hood.

Look at your own on-line interactions and assess which of these profiles you most resemble. Then ask if it is consistent with your values or if it is something you slipped into as a habit? You can evolve.