What Kind of Twitter User Are You?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his classic book “The Tipping Point,” explores the different ways that trends develop, and how ideas rapidly spread in ways not often anticipated by their originators. In discussing this phenomenon, Gladwell identifies different types of personalities that serve to help spread ideas as they go viral, including the “Maven” and the “Connector.”

The Maven represents a personality that likes to get into the nitty gritty details of specific areas. He would be the person that you would turn to when deciding what kind of camera to buy, as well as where to get it and how to get bonus American Express points by using a specific web link. The Maven enjoys the search for the perfect whatever, but is not content to simply amass knowledge. He lives to teach others, to spread the knowledge he has  gained and share it with others.

A Connector, explains Gladwell, is notable because he is fascinating with learning about the people he meets, “and he finds the patterns of acquaintanceship and interaction in which people arrange themselves to be endlessly fascinating.” Connectors are powerful because they are able to, as their title connotes, ‘connect’ different types of people who would probably not have interacted with each other normally, allowing for all sorts of new ideas to be shared and collaborations to occur. 

Both Connectors and Mavens are important characters in the ecosystem of information, because they each play a specific role. Writes Gladwell: “Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it.”

I had read Gladwell’s book a while back, and I recently saw this blog post that reminded me of it, as well as how Gladwell was really ahead of his time in terms of introducing concepts that are quite relevant to the world of social media influence. The post also referenced a chart that categorizes social media users, Gladwell style, but in more detail and with an eye towards current Web 2.0 uses. The list includes “Creators” who publish blogs, upload videos, and generate new content in general. ” On the other end, right above “Inactives” (which I think the title makes clear what they do), are “Spectators,” this users who read the blogs, watch the videos, and in general consume the content. In the middle are people who comment and collect information in a variety of ways.

 I also came across this blog post from the NY Times that was published this week in the wake of the Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal. The post makes the interesting point that utilizing social networks like Twitter is quite similar to how one would would play “a complicated strategy game. Like World of Warcraft and Halo, Twitter is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, but with higher real-world stakes. It is grounded in the first principles of game theory, including variations on the Prisoner’s Dilemma. You have to give to get; you have to get to give. Managing these ratios — deciding how much of your attention to expend to win attention to yourself, say — is the lion’s share of the Twitter action.”

Finally, Klout, a social media service that has been making alot of noise lately as they unveil a revamp of their system, provides a series of really interesting analyitcal data that you can use to determine your reach as a social media user, as well as what kind of social media user you are. My Klout profile can be seen here. You can be a “thought leader,” one of the industry big wigs with hundreds of thousands of followers, defined by Klout “You are a thought leader in your industry. Your followers rely on you, not only to share the relevant news, but to give your opinion on the issues. People look to you to help them understand the day’s developments. You understand what’s important and what your audience values.” Or perhaps you are a “specialist,”  as I am, which Klout defines as:  “You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.”

These different types of descriptions got me thinking about how I  use twitter, and if it mirrors my IRL (In Real Life) types of social engagement. In my IRL dealings, I see myself as a “Maven,” with specific focus areas that I tend to like exploring in detail and sharing my findings with others. But on Twitter, while I definitely focus on specific areas, one of the things that I really enjoy doing is connecting people. I love the fact that there are people who I have known for a long time, who don’t necessarily share the same exact interests as me, who are now following people that I have learned about on Twitter. I also really enjoying connecting the broader world of #EdTech and Jewish Educators. I feel quite passionately that we in Jewish education too often try and reinvent the wheel in our attempt to establish something meaningful, and often, there are many elegant solutions out there in the greater world of education that can be applied with little or no tweaking. Seeing this was one of the major eye openers for me as I got more involved in using Twitter as an educator. One of my “Go to moves” as a Twitter user is to Retweet interesting items I find in the area of #EdTech, but when I do, I add the #JED21 hashtag to it. Often, the tweet itself may have nothing specific to do with Jewish Education, but my goal is to try and share some of these ideas with Jewish Educators. 

What kind of Twitter user are you? Does it mirror your IRL self? Have your usage patterns changed over time? I’d love to hear your thoughts!



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