My use of Twitter has changed over time, as has my enjoyment of it. I had idly been making some notes about it, inspired by a thoughtful post from A Bite Of Sanity, and then today a Twitter question from Chris Brogan made me decide to post it. Examples here are real tweets from my timeline:
1. Newbie - figuring out if it's OK to jump in and follow people I don't know. Will they yell at me?
2. Stalker - You mean I can hear what John Gruber and Eric Meyer are saying? And I don't have to come up with something intelligent to say back? Sweet! In this stage I didn't make many tweets, just followed a ton of people and watched the tweets roll by.
3. Shy Kid At The Party - making awkward observational statements, hoping someone will start a conversation. It didn't work, as I wasn't really offering much of real value. Example: "Going to see Spiderman 3"4. Self-Promoter - talking endlessly about the projects I'm working on, attempt at self-marketing I guess ... But this doesn't invite 2-way communication, and it didn't improve my Twitter experience at all. Example: "Back to work on playermadness.com"5. Twitter Software Developer - as a developer of a Twitter-based web app, I use Twitter to field feature requests, or even to REQUEST feature requests. I find that there are so many different types of Twitter users that it's entirely possible I overlook aspects of my product that I don't consider important because I personally don't use it. So being in close contact with the community of my users is invaluable - and kind of fascinating as the users have helped me refine the product so much throughout its own life cycles. For example, this weekend I found myself with some extra time to work on iTweet, and posted a question about what could be improved. I received some very helpful notes from a couple users; their requests are answered now, the product is better...and everybody is happy. Fantastic. Example: "Planning some feature adds to iTweet. Any users out there with feature requests?"6. Twitter Community Participant - This is a stage I only recently entered. I started to find a groove of which people were worth following, which were spam or garbage etc...and which people were interested in conversation, which ones I had things in common with, etc. Conversations begin at this point.
This is the stage where I started to really love Twitter. @username replies pepper my timeline more and more from this point, about two months from the beginning. I started having conversations with people and getting to know them from the experience of reading their short posts over a long period of time. (This concept is worthy of another post at another time.) I was getting the in-jokes and the lingo, and feeling comfortable speaking my mind. I also occasionally ask questions to design riddles, or ask for input on iTweet, or ask a general life question...and I get answers from people, and usually I am pointed in the right direction or get helpful advice. It's awesome.
There have been a couple times where I felt like I put my foot in my mouth, but these are growing pains of any social media learning curve. At this point I feel like I have some new pals, some people to bounce ideas off of, and this is neat; I don't have many friends that speak geek, so it's nice to be able to have these kind of conversations.
I think there are other stages of Twitter use; the medium is so flexible that people use it in many different ways. Some users pound out the tweets faster than I can follow sometimes, whether they are single thoughts or questions (Chris Brogan) or longer philosophical commentary (Eric Rice). Some wire their blog or tumblelog feeds into their Twitterstream (this is kinda annoying, I won't name anyone but you know who you are). Some wait until they have something really funny or poignant or useful to say and only tweet once or twice a day (Merlin Mann).
Does a different kind of Twitterer come to your mind? Let's start a list. Leave your Twitter personality type in the comments!