The 5 People You’ll Meet on Twitter

Posted by Heidi Strom Moon under Social Media

Once you use Twitter for a while, you discover that among the great twittering masses -- numbering about 6 million, at last count -- there are only about five kinds of people. Give or take.

(Note that we didn't say this is the 5 types of Twitter accounts; after all, the CNN Headlines feed isn't exactly a "person" per se.)

So here's our version of The 5 People You'll Meet on Twitter*:

1. The Public Persona. (Subgroup: The Performer) These are the people on Twitter who are well-known beyond their circle of family and friends, for a variety of reasons, such as politicians, authors, artists and journalists. Not too surprisingly, this category contains a huge subcategory: The Performer, often a Famous Guy or Girl. This is where you find your comedians, your TV actors, your musicians -- or the publicists posting on their behalf -- and a few accounts that are created purely as performances, like The Mime, or the various Mad Men characters.

2. The Salesperson. Aka, the Marketer, the PR Person, the Advertising Person, the Corporate Brand Representative. Possibly even a bigger percentage of Twitter users than The Public Persona, these are the folks whose job is to communicate with the public in the interest, ultimately, of selling them something (whether it's an idea or a product) -- so is it any wonder that we all jumped on the social media bandwagon first? We're the people at cocktail parties who have a conversation with you about The Conversation.

And of course there are a handful of folks in this category who are also a #1, therefore a Famous Marketing Guy or Girl. (I'm looking at you, Guy Kawasaki.)

Note: I'm only including in this category the people who are Doing It Right, which does not apply to the spammers of all stripes (fake personalities, auto-DM abusers, people pushing their MLM program and nothing else, et al. You know who you are, and you've probably been blocked).

3. The Conversationalist. When a recent survey said that the majority of tweets were "pointless babble," it made the mistake of ignoring the fact that most human conversation is "pointless" babble. It's us talking over coffee in the morning about the episode of "Lost" we watched last night, or sharing family news. Babble, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.

The Conversationalists, therefore, are the friendly, chatty folk who saw Twitter as an excellent way to have lively, ongoing conversations with a group of friends. Some of them are chatting with other offline friends who've all gotten on Twitter, and some of them chat with friends they found on Twitter. An entertaining subgroup simply shares amusing and/or thoughtful ideas for general consumption.

(And then there's The Bloggess. Girl, you're a category unto yourself.)

4. The Secret Diarist. These are the sometimes anonymous, frequently protected accounts of folks who have found a privately public place online. They complain about their jobs, they share insecurities. In many cases, they use Twitter to air the thoughts they're otherwise afraid to admit out loud anywhere else.

5. The Regular Joe. And this category? This is everybody else. You heard about Twitter, you thought you'd check it out, you wanted to follow Oprah. Maybe you share a thought from time to time, maybe you check in on the news headlines, or maybe your account -- like most on Twitter -- went entirely dormant.

If you think about it, though, these categories really aren't unique to Twitter. This post could just as easily have been titled "The 5 Types of Bloggers" or "The 5 People You'll Meet Online."

So what do you think?

  • Are these the right 5 types of Twitter people?
  • What categories would you add or subtract?
  • Are they unique to Twitter?

*(With apologies to Mitch Albom.)

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