Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twitter 101 Day 3: Who will you be on Twitter?

This is the third in a short series of posts designed to help newbies understand some social media strategy behind the professional use of Twitter.

Now that you’re set up on Twitter and have figured out how you’ll use it you need to think about your Twitter "persona."

Below are several personas I’ve seen on Twitter. One or more may describe you. The important thing – if your goal is professional networking and growth via Twitter – is that you are aware of your persona. Which of these fit you?


1. The Helper: This persona type is extremely unselfish and is on Twitter to help others by sharing interesting and relevant content. They often retweet (RT) the posts of others. They go out of their way to connect those among their followers who may have a mutual interest. They steadily build an authentic and relevant following. They very rarely ask for help, but when they do they always get it.

2. The Conversationlist: This type spends serious blocks of time on Twitter publicly chatting (with "@" messages) with followers. They sometimes share very good content and they often act as a connector between people on Twitter. They tend to build an authentic and very committed following. They rarely ask for help, but when they do they almost always get it.

3. The Listener: This type spends a lot of time watching from the sidelines and only occasionally engages in public conversations with other Twitter users. They do not often retweet others’ posts, but when they do you can bet it’s something special. This person tends to be following more people than are following them. They’re often in the early stages of Twitter use and should be cautious about asking for help too often.

4. The Humanist: This Twitter type is all about being genuinely themselves – to the point of happily mingling their personal lives ("Just picked up the girls from soccer") with their professional lives ("This post on Social Media Today is great …"). They’re OK with this intermingling and believe it may help them seem more real. They are quite picky about who they follow and often do not build a vast following very quickly – but they’re OK with that. While this leads to deeper Twitter relationships (and real-world networking) it can be hard to leverage for business purposes except with business contacts you are already closely connected to.


1. The Aggressive Self-Promoter: The person who talks about themselves far too much. How much is too much? There’s no science behind this, but if more than one in 10 or one in 20 tweets is self-serving it’s likely that this person’s followers will mostly be auto-followers and other bots.

2. The Non-Stop Talker: This character, although few in numbers, gives Twitter a bad name. They’re essentially clueless about Twitter and keep tweeting the most mundane details of their lives or feel compelled to tweet dozens of times per day. Their ratio of tweets to followers is your first clue: Anyone with a ratio of 10 tweets or more per follower is talking a lot and not being found useful by very many people.

3. The Flamethrower: This is someone (or some business) trying very hard to get notoriety on Twitter. They’ll try to engage big names on Twitter with inane or just purposefully inflammatory statements or use ALL CAPS and provocative language just to get attention.

So, there you have it, your third Twitter 101 lesson. What do you think? Are there other personas I’ve missed? Will this help a social media strategy newbie figure how they’ll use Twitter?

Earlier posts in the series:
Twitter 101 Day 1: Why are you on Twitter?
Twitter 101 Day 2: How will you use Twitter?

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