Particle Debris: The Eight Twitter Personality Types

| Particle Debris

When I first learned about Twitter, my first reaction was to figure out how to fit its technology into my working style and personality. I stayed with it, started following more and more people, and this week it finally dawned on me. There may well be a correlation between the Myers-Briggs personality type and the types of people who tweet.

When I first started using Twitter, I considered it a disruption of my work flow. Experts who advise people on Getting Things Done, which is a discipline in itself, often advise people to ignore their e-mails until the afternoon, leaving the morning to attend to pressing work without disruption.

In my business, inundated by 225 RSS feeds, e-mail, chat room traffic, and now Twitter, that's just not possible. Even though I'm the kind of person who needs to focus intently on my writing for long stretches, I do recognize the benefits of maintaing several, simultaneous sub-space frequencies. On top of that, I listen to New Age, light jazz, and movie instrumentals while I write to soothe my spirit, and constant tweets seemed like noise at first.

I've had some discussions with my colleagues at the Mac Observer about this, and the conclusion was that one has to sit back and let one's natural personality play a dominant role. One can't just jump in and force a Twitter strategy without remembering to be true to one's self.

As I've expanded the number of people I follow, I have identified several distinct personality types. Seeing those personalities come to life on my screen has been a fascinating experience in itself. Here are the types I've observed so far.

1. The Entertainer. This type is blessed with a quick wit and a charming way of constructing short, pithy communications. You follow that person because they keep you amused and introduce you to witticisms and amusing points of view or commentary.

2. The Messenger. This type doesn't have the need to entertain, but rather the need to pass on information. This type collects information, organizes it and disseminates it for the benefit of others. Links are not pointless videos but rather typically what one would classify as useful information. I am a Messenger type.

3. The Tour Guide. This person wants to share personal experiences. They'll take you on a ride with them, posting iPhone photos instantly to the Web, where the followers can almost feel like they're on the same trip. Photos may include funny road signs, Airport snafus, (or Hudson River water landings), delicious looking food in a restaurant, and so on. Tour Guides are often good Entertainers as well.

4. The Navel Gazer. This person is following the strict spirt of Twitter's charter: "What are you doing?" They'll talk about preparing dinner, cutting their nails, being bored watching a TV show, or installing software. If they're part Entertainer, this can be good, but for those who are 100 percent Navel Gazer, it's hard to take for long.

5. The Self Promoter. This type is usually an Internet author who figures that if you're following them for some reason, you'll want to know about their writings. Every story they post, even if they're read by thousands, will be pushed out to their hundreds of followers. However, it can have a positive, beneficial effect of increasing readership, and so many authors feel the need to improve their "brand" by self promotion. Some have ramped to thousands of followers, and some people are modest Self Promoters overlaid with a Messenger disguise. (That's me.) Others are more blatant.

6. The Twit. (Also called "The Shouter"). The Twit is aroused and angry about everything. The smallest incident on the Internet or Tweetdom fires them up, and they collect followers by spewing insults and obscenities. Often their tweets, intentionally, utilize the e-mail faux pas of CAPITAl LETTERS indicating that they're screaming. If they're part Entertainer, the effect can be especially amusing because they do it consciously. If not, then the button to not follow is just a click away.

7. The Needy. The Needy person wants your friendship and communication. They'll ask what they should get their spouse for his/her birthday. They'll say, "Hey, I'm in San Francisco. Anyone have a restaurant recommendation?" Or, "I need to write an article about Apple. Anyone have any ideas?" The Needy people are often strong Self Promoters and may exhibit signs of insecurity.

8. The Celebrity. This type has learned that Twitter is the latest, coolest way to interact with fans and is heartened by the thousands who follow. The followers obtain the benefit of brushing shoulders with a celebrity, and the celebrity's ego is suitably massaged. Often, however, we find that the Celebrity is just a normal human being, and doesn't have anything earth shaking or inspiring (or juicy) to say except to note their next Big Project, book, or appearance. So there's some Self Promoter involved.

The Myers-Briggs Element

All this may well relate to a famous personality profile test that categorizes people into sixteen personality types, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It characterizes people with four traits:

  • Introvert or Extrovert ( E or I ) Do you draw strength from crowds (E) or from isolation (I)?
  • Sensing or INtuitive ( S or N ) Do you draw your values and focus on input from others (S) or do you work from within, forming your own independent thoughts and values (N)?
  • Thinking or Feeling (T or F) Do you tend to be analytical (T) or focus first on the feelings of others (F)?
  • Judging or Perceiving (J or P) Do you tend to want closure and organization (J) or do you tend to leave things open ended (P)?

Because there are two possibilities in four categories, there are 2^4 = 16 MBTI personality types. I have taken the test many times over the years, and when young, I was an INTJ. Nowadays, I'm more often tested as ENTJ. It's important to note that no one type is superior -- these types simply reflect the cross section of people. Each has its strengths and weaknesses in society. Each has a defining name. Here's how the U.S. population breaks down.

 

MBTI in U.S.

Percentage of Each M-B Type in U.S. (Credit: Wikipedia)

In thinking about the different types on Twitter, I see the same kinds of personalities. For example, I think The Messenger is likely an INTJ or ENTJ. The Entertainer and Tour Guide may be ESFP or ESFJ. The Self Promoter may well be ISFP or ISFJ. An so on.

In any case, it's been an interesting journey for me on Twitter. I've learned that I need to just let myself be myself and that I can't copy the personality traits and talents of others that I've encountered. What's more, I find it fascinating that technology has become so intertwined in the social fabric of Internet life. I suspect that people who understand that well will continue to make lots of money with new forms of communication.

Finally, in my own case, I've abandoned Twitterrific and moved to a really nice client called Syrinx. Try it. It has improved my life on Twitter and has been a tweet to use.

Follow me on Twitter at jmartellaro, but don't expect to be entertained or taken on tours of Colorado. Thanks to my job, I'm exposed to a wealth of material on the Internet. So when the spirit moves me, thanks to my personality, I'm just the Messenger.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

What about those who have not yet twittered?

Stefan

I am glad there is a name for what I am doing. (@susuh = messenger)

And it is good to know that there are others… smile

Lee Dronick

Doonesbury has been has been about Twitter this week http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/

Pallian

I guess I fall into the #5 category - when you run a startup based on twitter and your mission is to get more ppl to use and embrace your product, then we all become #5’s smile

On that spirit, check out twitter grouping and sharing made possible by my startup:  http://www.tweetizen.com

candace

wow i’m a navel grazer..hmmm… not sure how i feel about that hahahah

JayCruz

That’s a very interesting observation of twitter personality types.  I try to be 1 and 2 at the same time, but not so good on one.

Steen Seo ?hman

Great stuff ... my simple definition included two types of Twittere - nosy (follows other) interestion have more followers than he follows himself.

But your definition is much better ... as an ENTJ i must be a messenger.

Peter Vader

Eight? More like four. (NB: I love Twitter.)

1. Every Little Thing I Do Is Magic
2. Bitch, Bitch, Bitch
3. Every Little Thing I Do Magically Relates To My Start-up
4. Linky McLinksALot

Sheamus

Nicely done. I certainly recognise all of those ‘types’ within the Twittersphere. I will say though that I would imagine the majority of users fall within the cracks of two or more of your categories.

If I might be sold bold, I would consider myself a blend of #1, #2 and #5, with the order changing on any given day. Or perhaps we all think that way. smile

geogeller

its interesting from a perspective of pattern seeking- we humans are heat seeking pattern seeking missiles - always looking for recognizable patterns to hang our hats on and call them whatever we call them - we build monuments to our minds to patters that we worship and build warships and here again we have an example of how our minds work by putting ourselves into boxes - i think it is safe personality dis-order to always look to make order, to make sense out of things that don’t make sense - like i am doing right now - so, i recall a conversation with a friend who told me that before the gutenberg press and first Bible printing there was no concept of facts - there were few versions of the printed gutenberg bible over the course of time and each version strangely had its own faithfu and fateful following and would argue over the particulars of each bible as if it was fact before that there was no concept or need for facts according to this friend - we like to think because we think of it, it must be fact and so here you have put into little boxes facts or factiods - which might give us some sense of who we are but like history is the fiction of facts a faction - i think your little eight twitter personalities could give people a false sense of who they are - even though you have broken it down so convincingly that i looked at your results and thought hmmm which one do i fit in and then i started to think as i wrote this that maybe there is more hidden psychological self-hypnotising effects as i tried to see which boxes i fit into in this self-serving survey - there is more to this then meets the eye - some food for thought - geo geller

Doug Caldwell

How about the types described in the book, The Tipping Point:
Connectors are the people who “link us up with the world ... people with a special gift for bringing the world together.”
Mavens are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information.
Salesmen are “persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills.

Kim Garretson

Another cut on Twitter types. This is a comment I posted to Kris Colvin’ blog:

On another topic relating to your post, I am a proponent of a psychological tool called the Enneagram, that gets at the ?core motivation? of individuals, versus other tools like Myers Briggs that measure more outward behavior & attitudes. The Enneagram divides people into 9 types (link below), and I have watched the Twitter activity of friends that I know their types, and not surprisingly, their updates often follow their ?cores?. One word descriptions of the types are Reformer, Motivator, Helper, Romantic, Thinker, Skeptic, Enthusiast, Leader & Peacemaker. I?ve now started to examine the updates of people I don?t know and am beginning to form pretty good guesses about their types and core motivations.
The Types:
http://www.9types.com/

Liz McLellan - Owner - hyperlocavore.com

I run from at least four of those types.

Is there a tweet tag cloud that others can apply to tweeters? That would be very handy-and perhaps help people self regulate.

I hope that I am in the Gladwell sense, a connector - and an entertaining one. I admit to self promotion - but it’s actually because I believe the idea I promote (yardsharing) is an important and potentially worldchanging idea. So I will take my hits on that one.

It is tough to find the balance. During the day I will tweet things that are related to my subject areas: sustainability, gardening, food, yardsharing. But in the evening I tend to get on and socialize with friends I have made in the twitterverse. Sometimes I think I should have a separate account. But I like that potential members see who I am when I am being a goof along with my seriously driven side. All work and no play…

Where is the balance? Is anyone out there making tools to help us figure that out? Is that tag cloud idea out there? If not does someone want to make it with me?

geoduck

What about those who have not yet twittered?

OK I’m trying it.

I downloaded Syrinx and set up a Twitter account. So far I’m not impressed. Twitter doesn’t seem to be of much use, but I’ll give it a week to see what all the fuss is about. Mind you I’m INTJ that does mostly remote IT support. Left to my own devices I could go days without talking to anyone.

We’ll see how it works out.

Alex Schleber

Very interesting post. Another parallel I’d draw is to a set of about 12 basic archetypes, facets of which can be found in all of the types you describe (as well as some direct hits, e.g. celecrities = The Powerbroker).

Might have to write a complete follow-up post on this, since I’ve been working on a Archetype (Personal) Branding System for a few months now. Stay tuned (follow me on Twitter at the link above, I follow back).

seo company

Very knowledge full article Twitter is the must for all field and twitter should have good knowledge about any topic people should get knowledge bout this post i am thanks full to you have done good job

Social Media Maniac

Try this Twitter Personality Profile Reading. It’s done by a real person, a Corporate Personality Profiler.  He will read your Twitter feed and tell you about your personality based on it…and he’s on point!

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