This woman (whom I’ve never met) may not be an introvert at all. It’s hard to say what an introvert looks like, or even to say with complete certainty who is and is not an introvert. But we’ve been looking at research on the subject in the writing class I teach, so it’s natural that at some point I began to wonder: are extroverts better at social media than introverts?
There’s quite a bit of evidence that suggests that extroverts market themselves better in traditional business networking situations than introverts do. But think for a moment about the people who follow you at Twitter. You get the announcement of a new follower and you go over to see their Twitter page. You may have no further information about them than what you see on the page, and yet you make a decision about whether or not to follow them.
Since I’m in the business, I tend also to make a judgment about whether or not they’re using Twitter well. The ones who aren’t don’t usually strike me as too shy to tweet. Indeed, they’re often pretty brash.
The people who don’t seem worth following generally seem too self-centered.
I’m not talking about the people who use Twitter as a micro-journal. They may seem to be talking mostly to themselves, but if they’re saying something interesting, then I’m glad they let me listen in. I mean the ones who seem to think that Twitter is a place where they can shout out announcements about themselves because they want other people to listen to them — talking about themselves.
TV advertisers feel that, since they’ve paid for the ad time, they have a right to be listened to. When they learned that most viewers leave the room during commercials, they increased the volume so the hapless TV watchers would be forced to listen to their ads as they grabbed a cup of coffee in the kitchen.
As people gained technology that allowed them to avoid commercials entirely, they gave up their acceptance of the idea that having to watch commercials was the price they had to pay for free TV. And in fact, since most of us now pay for cable, we no longer have free TV anyway. Television advertisers have had to recognize that they have to offer something viewers consider valuable: generally, information or entertainment. Some have done well enough that people share their commercials on YouTube. Some have given up.
Twitter isn’t about ads. It’s about community. It’s about interacting with people — some of whom may need your products and services, so you should share some of that information with them.
If we feel that someone is simply using Twitter to sell us something, we don’t follow them. If we like them, and find value in what they have to say, we do.
If you have some blithe spirit in your organization who loves to chat with people and enjoys spending lots of time on Facebook or LinkedIn, making friends and influencing people, then it certainly makes sense to let him or her be your social media maven. If not, go with sincere interest in the other members of your community.
If you’re such a misanthrope that you can’t accomplish that, check out my guide to faking it.