Twitter attracts all types and with so many just putting a toe into the twitterverse, I thought I’d summarize the twitter types you’re likely to run into. Have patience when you are deciding who to follow – the right people are out there, and think about what you want to be known as when you start tweeting yourself.
The Aggregator – They scan, skim and read more quickly than most human beings. Passionate about their particular interest area, they want others to share their interest and happily tweet links to interesting articles. Strangely they don’t retweet as much as you’d think, perhaps because they feel their value comes from the effort they put in to find the articles in the first place – I bet they can all tell you how many tweets they’ve made in the past week.
What’s great about them? They can be like your own personal clipping service, reading through the dross and finding the juicy interesting articles for you. A good one is invaluable.
When Aggregators go bad… they figure out how to use the “tweet this” button on bogs and news sites and suddenly the frequency of their tweets increases to a feverish pitch. They begin to think they can only win if they tweet more than anyone else and they start tweeting more and more obscure articles.
The Life Detailer – You know them instantly when you get to their twitter page, not a single link to be found among the vast numbers of tweets that chronicle their life in minute detail. The entire twitterverse knows what sports team they follow (not the San Jose Sharks anymore – hah!), what they had for breakfast (nothing as they were too hung over) and what they think of their mother-in-law (not much and someone should tell them tweets never die!)
What’s great about them? Any time you think your life is really boring, you can reassure yourself knowing there are more people out there with even more boring lives.
When Detailers go bad – They become obsessed with adding more and more detail for public consumption. They are exhibitionists with a keyboard and we just know that they have tweeted while doing their business in that room where computers simply don’t belong.
The Promoter – every tweet is about their business, every tweet. Did I mention it was every tweet? Subtlety is not their strong suit. Rarely are they subtle but they are almost always incredibly persistent. You know them, they are the same ones who email you a press release every 2 weeks and who don’t include an opt-out.
What’s great about them? – You gotta admire their persistence.
When Promoters go bad – they start bad, don’t they?
The Commentator – they tweet their opinions, they tweet other people’s opinions, they tweet what they see happening around them. They are like bloggers with an attention deficit, not quite ready to invest the time required to write an entire article or post with a beginning, a middle and an ending.
What’s great about them? Finally some original content on twitter – often funny and sometimes insightful, if you can find and follow a good one, you’ll be well rewarded.
When Commentators go bad – they start to turn into Detailers, it’s a fine line folks, walk it carefully.
The Socialite – you know them by their ratio of @ in their tweets. A ratio of more than 1 @ per 100 characters is a dead giveway. They are the folks who love CC: on email, the more people who hear them the better. They tend to be the group leaders and organizers and twitter is just another tool to help them communicate.
What’s great about them? If you find a socialite you respect and admire, you may also enjoy their friends and want to follow them too. Click through to their @names and see who is out there, I’ve added many people to my follow list using indirect referrals from Socialites.
When Socialites go bad – They start tweeting famous people, suggesting that they actually have a relationship with these famous people, thereby increasing their Twitter status (would that be a twatus?) At some point you gotta wonder why anyone wants to follow one side of a bunch of conversations even if it’s with a celebrity – it smacks of teenage girl talk. (Note added May 5th, my friend Gillian Brouse (@gilliebee) pointed out that every twitter account owner can choose not to see all these replies with only a few simple key strokes – RTFM Lynda!)
The Lurker – representing the majority of twitter users, the lurker follows many people (a friend told me yesterday he follows over 1000 in each of two accounts) but doesn’t tweet himself. Lurkers are sponges, soaking up knowledge, gossip, news and creating impressions of people and products without feeling any need to contribute to the noise.
What’s great about them? I believe they are the reason Twitter will survive long term. They are the ones who actually absorb what’s going on. They will eventually become your customers, your champions, your supporters and even your friends. Let them lurk, and if they ever tweet you, be 100% sure to tweet them back.
When Lurkers go bad – they start to think they know you from reading your tweets. Recently I was being twitter-stalked (OK, I made that term up). A lurker came out of the closet at a business event I was at and felt that his understanding of my tweets afforded him some special privileges. It was a bit weird talking to someone I had never met who felt he knew me well.
So what’s the best Twitter type? It really depends on why you use twitter. I started out using twitter to learn from others who shared my business interests so I tend to follow Aggregators and Commentators, especially Commentators who have figured out how to add value in their tweets. I also learned that Aggregators and Commentators who don’t add any personal life tidbits quickly become boring, so a touch of Life Detailer is really important to me too. I really don’t enjoy Socialites but I can see how others would. The good news is that there are so many people out there that matching followers to your most comfortable twitter style is just a question of patience and persistence.
Why not follow me at www.twitter.com/lpartner and you can tell me what type I am and whether it works for you.