The Introvert’s Guide to Twitter

Johnny Spence has been one of the most consistent and entertaining contributors to {grow} over the past year so it only makes sense that I feature our favorite dude in Barcelona during a week highlighting community voices …

Hello World. I’m an Introvert.

And I’ve been happily been using Twitter for about a year and a half. While my follower count won’t set the world on fire (maybe reheat my coffee instead), I’m rather weary of the notion of becoming the Twitter superstar.

Maybe it would be nice to one day have ten thousand followers spreading the Gospel of Johnny to every corner of the world but there’s one thing. Coming from an admitted introvert, this isn’t my style. I’m already sweating how to handle the nearly thousand I already have although I think I’m doing an OK job so far.

Still, I always use to have this feeling that, even after such a long time, I still never quite “got it.” Anybody, even good ol’ dad, can think of something to say in a brief sentence and let it rip. What makes the rest of the twitterverse, or just a little corner of it, really care and decide “Hey, I want to hear more” though?

Then it dawned on me (actually while I was just writing this sentence). Just keep doing what I’ve been doing. I probably don’t view Twitter as, say, the average twitterholic but I do see it as sort of a house party you’re always welcome to whenever you need a break from the toils of work. Introverts included.

That said, with such a gathering, too, comes my own take on the personalities I see on a daily basis at the biggest avatar party on earth. Keep in mind the introverted perspective here.

(Actual) Celebrities

You can’t see them, being surrounded by so many tweeps. Given their “accessibility,” however, I still tend to shy away from these folk, except for maybe @Alyssa_Milano. I wouldn’t mind giving her a grammar lesson or two but that’s a job for the publicists. I’ll just stick with my TMZ fix in the meantime and not fight through the mob.

Social Media Socialites

Well, they can neither do a 360 windmill jam nor light up the big screen but their word permeates the digital world like that leftover kung pao chicken sitting in the microwave on high. Don’t get me wrong, the Godins and Kawasakis out there can dish out a quip that briefly knocks the earth off its axis. I get the feeling, though, that they’re too busy commandeering a bedroom upstairs with a hijacked Mac to be bothered.

The Emcees

These happen to be the most social friendly and active users on Twitter that you can’t help but interact with even when you are not a marketer yourself (me). Far from the socialites but the chatty folks you would love to be around. It goes without saying but they might just be good at what they do.

(Just to be clear, those who promise you’ll make enough loot to be able to erase the national debt by next Friday do not count here. They already got turned back at the door and their DM’s deleted.)

The Minglers

These would be the rest of the Twitterverse, a real crowd from all walks of life with something to say, composed of friends, random hellos, long lost random hellos and those who will say hello to anyone.  In other words, the big crowd is in the living room and you found a quiet space in the kitchen to hang out with new and old friends.

I’ve admitted my antisocial view of Twitter but I don’t mind. I’m pretty content sitting in the kitchen (direct access to the fridge) with my followers who I enjoy a quip with day in and day out. Truthfully, though, I don’t know where I’d be without Twitter.  Anyway, just five simple rules have gotten me this far so why change them?

1. Be positive.
2. Don’t be a jerk (note: a more PG-13 word would suffice here).
3. Talk, strike up a conversation. You can disguise your avatar if you have to.
4. Be you and only you. People somehow like that.
5. Hang out in the blogs of your followers. It’s actually quieter there.


So let’s hear it. Twitter introverts of the world unite and tell me your stories in a comment below. If your last name is Godin or Kawasaki complaints are welcome too!

Johnny Spence is a freelance programmer of 8 years living out in Barcelona, Spain. Have a visit at his blog, or see what he is up to on Twitter.

Illustration: Damn Cool Pics

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  • Thanks, Johnny, for justifying my existence on Twitter.

    It seems that being a one-man show, you either have all the time in the world in your hands (meaning you haven’t got enough work at the moment, which is bad) or you’re so pressed for time that two weeks easily go by without even taking a look at your social media hangouts (meaning there are lots of $$ coming in, which is good).

    I’ve made the observation, though, that even if you’re absent from, say, Twitter for a time, when you become more active again, you’ll find your following hasn’t gone away.

    To sum it up, sporadic is good enough.

  • @Kimmo – I think those who are most active on Twitter either dedicate their day to it or somehow manage to work and tweet at the same time, something which I can’t do myself.

    I totally agree, though, that no one forgets who your are even when you only manage the sporadic tweeting. I guess I’ll have to cut back my time counting the $$ 😉

  • Hi Johnny,

    I especially like your suggestion of hanging out in the blogs of your “friends in the kitchen”. That makes sense to me because I haven’t figured out, yet, how to filter the Twitter comments to just the ones I’ll like… because one of the wonders of the world is that I will be surprised and awakened by thoughts I wouldn’t have expected… and I won’t know those until I see them.

    I also don’t have time to sift Twitter all day, but scanning blogs… yep, can do that.

    Thanks for the read!

  • @George – I try to make it a point to scan the “all tweets” feed to make sure there are not some interesting people that are being filtered out and forgotten. It is time consuming though.

    Blogs are excellent for meeting others though. I wouldn’t have met you otherwise!

    Thanks for your comment too.

  • @Johnny, For all the B2B hype around Twitter I do think a lot of it comes down to “Hey, I’ve got a bazillion followers, look at me.”

    And it’s an extension of high school like most things in society, but here you get the chance to be class president AND sell a whole host of tickets to the prom.

    My approach is splatter gun: fire a few shots off and hope to hit the target now and again. Oh, and keep up with great guys like you and Mark!

  • @Jon – I don’t think we ever outgrow the high school culture except for that we can see through all the smoke and mirrors hype.

    I have to say, too, that it’s been a pleasure meeting you Mark and the others on this blog. The comments on this blog rival Twitter any day.

  • Johnny, from one introvert to another – thank you. Your advice is succinct, right-on, and demonstrates how valuable we introverts really are to the world. Especially when they’re hilarious (biggest avatar party in the world! ha ha).

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  • Hi Johnny, and everyone! It would not surprise me one bit to discover that the majority of Twitter/Bloggers are, indeed, introverts. This is an ideal forum for connecting, while your energy to do so is high ~ without depleting from the overwhelm of others’ energy as can happen in similar networking situations that are face-to-face.

    I’m grateful that you’ve shared a bit of yourself and your insights here ~ I’ve seen you often in the {grow} comment streams and it’s nice to finally say, “Hello” while also having something relevant to contribute as well.

    I gravitate to ordinary, intelligent, creative, compassionate, wise people on Twitter ~ who also have a sense of humour. Those who share tweets that might help, inform or entertain another vs those who believe your life is not complete if their product/service is not purchased.

    I just did a bit of a Following tidy to maximize the value of the tweets that appear in my stream ~ and it’s my hope that my tweets touch the lives of those who read them in a meaningful way too.

    A pleasure to finally speak to you today Johnny. Thank you.

  • @Jenn – Yes, we don’t have to hide in our closets anymore! Well, for today at least 🙂

    @Sally – I meant for this post to be more of a rant on Twitter but I’m starting to realize I’m a bit of an introvert on this blog, too. So thank you for your kind words and I’m glad to finally speak to a familiar face around here too.

  • “I probably don’t view Twitter as, say, the average twitterholic but I do see it as sort of a house party you’re always welcome to whenever you need a break from the toils of work.”

    I like this perspective, although I see it more as a “business after hours” cocktail party myself. Twitter is really fun but you can really develop such great business connections as well as friendships through it.

    I liked this post and just being your self and doing what you’ve been doing is what makes it great.

  • Hi, Johnny. 🙂
    What a great analogy – being in the kitchen of twitter. I love it.

    I’m not out to rule the twitterverse either, and – like you – prefer to find a cozy corner where I can interact on a more “Real” level with my special tweeps. I’ve found that private lists are an excellent way to manage what can be an overwhelming onslaught of 140-character quips and quotes.

    It’s the same concept as finding your business “niche” – when you focus your efforts, the results can be amazing … and real relationships definitely fall into that category.

    Grt post! See you on twitter.

  • @Nathan – Thanks for your comment! That part might have been a little misleading since, while I actually do enjoy networking and meeting new people on Twitter, I take a rather casual approach in my use of it Really, I actually prefer blogs (like this) for networking and meeting people instead.

  • @Jamie – You know, looks like a nice happy gathering in this kitchen. I think the party stays right here, eh?

  • @Johnny – no matter how big the house, how fancy the dining room, or how long you spent cooking and decorating for a gathering, all the best bits of every get together ALWAYS take place in the kitchen! 😉

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  • Jerry Brower

    Great guidelines and encouraging words for the introvert.  Being an introvert myself, I can see where different methods need to be employed in order to achieve the same results as the extrovert.  But, it is possible to succeed, in spite of the common stereotype given to the introvert.  We definitely have our strong points. We just need to know how to recognize them and learn how to use them.  Social skills will become more natural if you are persistent at practicing them.  Social media can be a great outlet to build confidence.  I also found some other helpful tips for introverts at:

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