I’ve been thinking about a possible link between a specific personality type (introvert) and social media success for several months and what it means for learning in the workplace. (I haven’t done any significant research on this topic yet.)
I can’t synthesize this provocative older post from Venkatesh Rao but his insight was this:
…the word “social” in the term “social media” represents the ultimate in misleading advertising, and is responsible for many failures and a lot of disenchantment, especially within the enterprise.
Here are the parts of his post that became my initial ear worms:
- thoroughly introverted, unsociable, egoistic, and ornery individualists take to (social media) like ducks to water
- social media amplifies the human traits of social manipulation and exploitation
- successful social media efforts are fueled by self-interest
- social media attracts extroverted, harmony-seeking, consensus-driven people who end up carcasses
So I went looking and found some opinions about his first bullet point…
Peter Cashmore wrote about introverts here (and noted that a very popular social media personality, Guy Kawasaki, described himself as a loner). Cashmore ran a poll and reported results showing
61% of Twitter users considered themselves introverts (only 13% described themselves as extroverts).
In another post, Mark Dykeman reminds us that the difference between introversion and extroversion lies in the effect other people have on us. He thinks social media removes the need to connect in person (something extroverts are more comfortable with). He quoted Laura Thomas at Dell:
“social media is very introvert-friendly (because many introverts) are more comfortable writing their thoughts/feelings than they are speaking them.”
Dykeman also notes that Darren Rowse (who has a huge online presence) said:
“as an extreme introvert I enjoy social media as it gives me social content but in a measured way.”
Lou Covey wrote that social media is attuned to introverts because it levels the playing field.
Russell Miyaki wondered if, because social media is a controlled environment, introverts can be connected with their own world online and be by themselves at the same time.
Brent Leary, a self-described “introvert with an accounting degree for crying out loud” wrote about his success with social media.
social media allows those with a preference for introversion to reveal themselves after the have had a period of time to reflect on what and how they want to present themselves.
Anthony Vultaggio thinks introverts have a distinct advantage with social media.
“[Online] social networking is a solitary activity done from the privacy of one’s personal computer. Traditional introverts…lack the need for feedback…they reach inward.”
Here, Jim Blasingame interviews Patricia Weber (a former corporate trainer) in a poorly titled podcast about whether or not social media is a tool or a crutch for introverts (assumes there’s something wrong with being an introvert). She notes that social media, while used by all personality types, can be a productive. She thinks an introvert can be a good bet for getting a social media strategy rolling or to keep it rollling.
I’m not a big fan of Myers-Briggs but this is interesting. Breanne did an unscientific survey of 296 people on Twitter and found that INFPs are more represented than other personality types (14.7% in the Twitter sample vs. 4.4% of the general population.)
A good instructor can keep all personality types engaged but I suspect many introverts keep quiet in the classroom and may not have their voice heard. Perhaps social media offers introverts a platform for their voice.
Now I’ll just have to think a bit more about the other three points I took away from Rao’s post.