Through our in-depth one-on-one sessions and small group discussions with participants in Nigeria, Colombia, and the United States, we identified three main user archetypes in each country to communicate important individual preferences, behaviors and practices when using private messaging apps. These archetypes are by no means comprehensive, however, they highlight some important factors which can be used as a foundation to explore relevant gaps in addressing individual needs. Below is a breakdown of the archetypes for each of the three countries.
Representative User Archetypes in Nigeria
The users we interviewed in Nigeria exhibited some overall commonalities regarding their mental models, usage behaviors, and choice of private messaging platform. This was likely influenced by cultural and societal values and beliefs. But we also observed meaningful differences based on personal experience. We selected three user archetypes in Nigeria to represent the different behavioral and social influencing factors to adoption and usage of private messaging platforms which emerged from our research.
During the lockdown we used Discord a lot because the children had laptops and tablets. It helped disseminate the info we wanted them to know… [using discord], they could do their projects and they could send it back on files.
This archetype comprises administrators who are trusted by group members, seen as a point of authority and expected to resolve most group issues. This soft power along with the ability on private messaging apps to add and remove participants; review and remove content; as well as make key decisions about group interactions and content that is allowed, empowers them to become dominant figures.
We use WhatsApp for meetings and [to] share documents: reports, pictures, videos etc. As a result of insecurity (e.g., banditry and terrorism) which we have encountered in our region, [in order to increase reach] we try to ensure other forms of communication to engage.
This archetype comprises individuals who heavily depend on private messaging apps to share critical public/emergency information with others and to highlight important events that are unfolding and may not be available on mainstream media channels.
For WhatsApp, I have a broadcast group where I put content on a daily basis. Inspirational content. People get to react directly.
This archetype comprises traditional influencers (e.g., religious/community leaders) who typically rely on physical interactions with followers but are now moving their engagements/interactions to digital platforms for ease and wider reach.
Representative User Archetypes in Colombia
The users we interviewed in Colombia exhibited some overall commonalities regarding their mental models, usage behaviors, and choice of private messaging apps. This is likely influenced by cultural and societal values and beliefs. But we also observed meaningful differences based on personal experience. We selected three user archetypes in Colombia that best represent the different behavioral and social influencing factors to adoption and usage of private messaging apps that emerged from our research.
I got a message for an update on WhatsApp where I had a number of days to update to the conditions that WhatsApp imposed, otherwise it would stop working. That was the reason why I installed Telegram because I did not like some of the conditions and did not know what was going to happen.
This archetype comprises activists in Colombia who have limited alternatives to dominant private messaging apps, and face increasing risks due to their activism and limited safety options (e.g., legal protection, effective safety practices) to leverage in order to counter growing risks (e.g., surveillance, hacking etc).
When you download an app you never check what instructions or terms and conditions it has, you just install it and that's because you need it.
This archetype comprises individuals who are below legal adult age or who have recently become adults. This group faces particular challenges due to their susceptibility, and limited awareness/ knowledge of risks as well as limited safety options to mitigate these risks.
I use an app called Troller. I don't have a good memory.... and with this can identify if a call that comes to my cell phone is reliable. It only works with calls, and there I can see if it is reliable or a scam or robbery.
This archetype comprises entrepreneurs (e.g., transport service, plumbing) who have started to significantly leverage private messaging apps for communications and operations but have limited know-how of how to effectively use private messaging platforms to safeguard their businesses from hacking while maximizing communications.
Representative User Archetypes in the USA
The users we interviewed in the USA exhibited a higher degree of diversity than our Colombian or Nigerian participants regarding their mental models, usage behaviors, and choice of private messaging apps. This is likely influenced by migration patterns, cultural and political beliefs as well as the less dominant role that a platform like WhatsApp plays in day-to-day life in the USA relative to the other markets. We selected three user archetypes that best represent different behavioral and social influencing factors to adoption and usage of private messaging apps that emerged from our USA research.
A password in this day and age feels rudimentary, because if someone really wants to, they can still access your account.
This archetype comprises individuals who use private messaging apps for social and political activism. This group tend to have access to important support structures for information, and safer privacy and security practices, as well as the availability of different private messaging app options for more safer and private communications.
When I was in Bali I connected with some people on WhatsApp there, and when I got back to Sweden, Facebook tried to connect me to those people. Then I realised okay this is how it is connected together. This was not a coincidence.
This archetype comprises individuals who conduct frequent international communications across multiple private messaging platforms (e.g., frequent travelers, international students).
On Telegram you can regulate the people who text you, who views your number and who calls you. Telegram has lots of people and maybe you don't want everyone to contact you.
This archetype comprises individuals who are admins in groups of larger than 100. They are viewed as regular members by other group participants and usually not expected to moderate interactions or make key group decisions (e.g., removal and reviewing of content).