Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 18, 2011 9:35 PM

The 6 Types Of Twitter Trolls

As great as Twitter is, there are many people who use and abuse it to the point of absurdity.

Wikipedia defines a "troll" as "someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." While Twitter definitely has people like this engaged in the online social network, I've decided to expand the definition (sue me) to nefarious, self-involved types of people on Twitter that, ultimately, make people collectively groan in disappointment. You know, people who - to be blunt - very annoying.

The 6 Types of Twitter Trolls: 

  1. The "Calling You Out" Troll. Too much self-promotion on Twitter can be a bad thing. While some people are very successful at packing their stream with self-involved chatter, it takes a classy and fine balance to get the self-promotion right. Let's face it, while Twitter is a great communications channel, it's also a great tool to self-promote, which allows others to learn more about you and what you're all about. The problem is that The Calling You Out Troll won't let even the hint of a self-promotional tweet float by without making a snide remark.
  2. The Freeloader Troll. Just because I have a Blog and Podcast that offers a lot of information for free, it doesn't mean that I am not entitled to make a living. As an agency owner, my time is paid for by the clients that we serve at Twist Image. Furthermore, when I signed a book publishing with Grand Central Publishing, it was understood that I would work hard to sell as many copies of Six Pixels of Separation as possible. Not everything is free in this world, so if you join and follow people on Twitter for the sole purpose of trying to score some free stuff, by tweeting it out for the world to see, you're a freeloader.
  3. The Link Jumping Troll. It's amazing to see how many people retweet other people's links without even clicking on it to see if it's good and/or worthy of sharing with their own social graph. It seems to me that individuals do this in the hopes of getting the attention of the person who tweeted out the link in the first place. Everyone likes their content to be retweeted (it's very flattering), but there's no real flattery if the person who retweets your link does so without even checking to see if the link is valid. You may be wondering how someone would know if The Link Jumping Troll is doing this? If you publish a 500-word Blog post and it gets retweeted five seconds after you tweet about it, odds are that person never even looked at your content.
  4. The Public Shaming Troll. "Hey, did you get my email?" You have to love tweets like that. Have these trolls never seen the movie, Swingers? One communication channel works just fine. You don't need to leave a voicemail, then email, then Tweet, then message someone on Facebook to see if they got your voicemail. You just need some patience. On top of that, when you tweet a message like that in Twitter, it is very akin to a public shaming. It's like the troll is purposefully trying to call you out and get you to respond faster.
  5. The Brand Jacker Troll. You have to love and admire this special breed. These are the individuals who have a gripe with a brand and then spend every waking hour responding to everyone else's customer service issues with a tweet like, "I'm so sorry to hear about your problems with Brand A. Did you happen to see what Brand B did to me?" While it's a clever way to drive more links and attention to your own personal cause, it's kind of like asking out your friend's girlfriend... while they're still dating.
  6. The IRL Troll. Do you know how many times someone has cancelled a meeting IRL (In Real Life) only to be found out that during the allotted time they were on Twitter? I'm also a big fan of actually being on a conference call with these types of Trolls and seeing them tweet while they're supposed to be paying attention to what's happening in the meeting. These people seem to think that Twitter falls outside of the real space time continuum, and that it's improbable that anyone else would have a Hootsuite window open to see who is actually working and who is busy futzing around on Twitter.

Yes, there are the real spammers too or those who follow and connect on Twitter and then have the most unrelenting barrage of daily and weekly requests as if you were blood relatives. You see, it's sometimes easy to forget that you're connecting to people and not just to a keyboard. Without the context of having to walk over to someone you don't know, look them in the eyes and try to make a real connection, Twitter can give people a strong sense of false courage. The majority of people I connect with are caring and interesting people. This majority of people on Twitter are just trying to build connections and bridges, but there are a lot of trolls out there who really are manipulating the platform in an attempt to make it bend to their own, personal, will.

Now, all that's left is to figure out what to do about all of these Twitter Trolls?

By Mitch Joel