Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 9, 2010 3:56 PM

The Two Types Of Twitter Stars

Who do you follow on Twitter? How you derive the most value out of Twitter?

In a roundabout way, this was the exact conversation I just had over lunch with Hugh McGuire (The Book Oven, Bite-Sized Edits, BookCamp and a regular voice on the Media Hacks Podcast). The conversation stemmed from the realization that we both engage on Twitter with more of a "publishing links" and "being directed to other links" than a conversation/online social network type of approach.

There really are only two types of people on Twitter:

  1. The Publisher. Someone who uses Twitter to share bits and bites of interesting things they see or hear about in the world and online.
  2. The Talker. Someone who really digs into the conversations and has ten times as many @ replies than tweets that mention another Twitter citizen over a random thought.

...And yes, there are those that play a subtle balance between the two.

The point is that you can have a very active Twitter presence that creates a ton of value for you (and the people following you) without engaging in a river of tweets that read like this: "lol... thanks... you bet... totally agree... so stupid, let's discuss later," etc... That's not where I get (personal) value from Twitter, but that doesn't mean that it's not a great way to build audience, community, care and attention (and, that also doesn't mean that millions of people don't love that kind of back and forth).

Your Twitter is not my Twitter.

We can be following a large percentage of the same people and yet have a completely different Twitter experience (more on that here: The Trouble With Twitter - Confessions Of A Twitter Snob and here: The Dirty Little Secret Of The Twitter Elite). I love Twitter because I follow people who provide smart, cutting edge (and sometimes edgy) bits of inspiration, thoughts and links that Google Reader could never provide (it's as Chris Brogan - author of Social Media 101 and co-author with Julien Smith of Trust Agents - calls a "serendipity engine" of glorious information). Personally, I'm less excited about the back and forth banter between two individuals.

Celebrating the two.

Twitter (like most other channels and platforms in Social Media) is not about being one thing to many people. The real gold in breaking through for brands in Digital Marketing is in embracing the idea that Twitter (and everything else "Social Media") is going to be about many different things to many different types of people. Pushing yourself to experiment and recognizing that whatever type of Twitter star you decide to be will - without question - ostracize the other types is fine (as long as it works for you).

Some people will never agree.

Some people will argue that if you don't follow everyone back, and that if you don't respond to every @ message, and that if you don't try to build your following by engaging in all of the conversations, that you are missing the vital essence of what makes Twitter so powerful. I'd argue that your Twitter experience is not going to be my Twitter experience, and both of us should be perfectly comfortable with this. Some people aren't looking for conversation. Some people aren't looking for content. Some people use Twitter as a way to showoff what they're doing (and where they're going). Some people use Twitter as a place to share information.

What about you? What do you think makes Twitter so special? 

By Mitch Joel