7 Annoying Social Media Personality Disorders

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[A guest post from the talented Laura Click]

There is one thing that will make or break someone’s ability to be successful in social media.

No, it’s not smarts, strategy or writing skills (though, all of those things are immensely helpful).

It’s personality.

Your personality online determines whether or not someone will sign on to follow your tweets or read your posts. Just as in real life, your personality matters.

Think that’s brutal?

Consider your real life friendships. You choose who to hang out with people based on their interests, hobbies, and style. The same is true online.

You don’t have to appeal to everyone, but you DO have to appeal to someone.

But, there are some people and personalities who are universally unappealing online. And oftentimes, these offenders have no idea they’re guilty of some of the worst turn-offs on the social web.

So, who are these social miscreants? Let me introduce you.

The Diva

Divas are pretty easy to spot in social media circles. They are likely found bragging about their latest workout, charitable endeavor or achievement. Even worse, Divas like to retweet compliments about themselves so the whole wide world can know how smart, generous and beautiful they are.

If you are only going to talk about yourself, why should someone else want to follow along? Although a little bragging every now and then never hurt, social media shouldn’t be used as megaphone for sharing all of your positive traits.

The Hoarder

You know that show Hoarders? The one where people have an inability to let go of stuff? Well, there are people just like that online.

Social media hoarders have a complete mental hang-up with giving away anything of value. They want to keep all of their ideas and information to themselves. After all, it might be worth something and why should they give it away for free?

The entire idea of social media is sharing – information, ideas, tips and opinions. If you are just going to sit on your mountain of ideas, why even bother with social media?

The Used Car Salesman

People can sniff out a used car salesman from a mile away – mostly, because they love to bombard you with a steady stream of promotional messages.

You know the ones – ““Check out my post about how you can get a gagillion followers with this free tool!” or “Thanks for following! Check out my blog! Like me on facebook! Download my e-book!”

Essentially, used car salesmen are the new spammers of the social web.

The one-way onslaught of offers, deals and promos is the ultimate turnoff. If every tweet, blog post or email is an offer, don’t you think people will start to tune out?

The Corporate Spokesperson

An unlikely social media deviant, the corporate spokesperson can be just as offensive as a spammer. I think it’s perfectly fine for a PR person or spokesperson to use social media, but that doesn’t the blog or Twitter stream should become one gigantic press release.

No one likes corporate mumbo jumbo filled with words like “synergy” and “value-added”. Cut the crap. Each tweet doesn’t have to be a carefully crafted statement reinforcing the company’s mission. Lose the corporate jargon and start talking like a real human being if you want people to engage with you online.

The Wallflower

In high school, no one ever noticed the quiet guy in the corner who never opened his mouth. The same goes for social media.

If you just sit on the sidelines with your head down trying to stay out of the way, no one will notice you. Social media is about two way conversation. Join the conversation or don’t bother.

The Whiner

We’ve all had that really bad customer service experience that we want to tell all our friends about in retaliation. I’ve been there. But, you don’t want to be the constant complainer who only uses social media to rant about life’s frustrations.

Bottom line – think before you tweet, blog or post something on Facebook about your latest grievance. You don’t want negativity following you around online if you want to build an engaged community.

The Troll

Trolls can come in many shapes and sizes, but no matter how you cut it, they are just plain ugly. They are mean, spiteful and rude. Trolls go looking for trouble.

No one, and I mean no one, likes a troll.

Although debate and healthy discussion is welcomed online, there’s a big difference between disagreeing and being disagreeable. Trolls don’t get that. They like to throw stones just to get a rise out of people.

If you want to disagree with someone, go ahead. Just be kind about it. People will be more open to hearing what you have to say, and in the end, respect you more for it.

Be yourself and shine

So, how do you avoid turning into one of these social media deviants? Here are few tips:

1. Be yourself. Don’t think that you have to “become” someone different online. Have a personality, but make sure it’s authentically yours. Talk and interact like you normally would and you’ll be amazed at the results.

2. Be helpful. Don’t be shy about sharing your expertise or pointing people in the right direction. Just keep it in the frame of helping other people solve their problems instead of focusing on yourself.

3. Socialize. What makes social media unique is the ability to develop relationships with people you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. So, strike up a conversation and get to know some of the people around you. Wonderful things happen when you do.

4. Spread the love. If you want to generate legions of raving fans, talk about other people. Build them up. Share their stuff. Retweet their posts. Online, sharers win.

5. Respond. Social media becomes much richer if you’re willing to engage in two-way conversation. If someone comments on your blog or replies to your tweet, talk back. If someone disagrees with you, engage in a healthy debate. The bottom line is that people are more likely to talk to you if they know you’re willing to talk back.

What are you doing to avoid becoming a social media deviant? Are there other deviants we should add to the list?

About Laura

Laura Click is founder and chief innovator at Blue Kite Marketing, a marketing and social media consulting group that’s passionate about helping small businesses reach new heights. You can learn more about Laura by connecting with her on Twitter and checking out her blog.

53 thoughts on “7 Annoying Social Media Personality Disorders

  1. lmontgrain

    @Laura Click I am finding that a lot of the time people are better at writing than reading. I guess it does reflect human nature who prefers to talk than listening. Typical car salesman (woman) personality

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  4. ShirleyWilson

    Uh oh, I have probably suffered from one or more of these disorders in some point :) Thanks pointing them out so perfectly. Great set of do’s and don’t guidelines. I just started following your blog and really enjoy the practical information you all are presenting. Keep up the good work.

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  9. Laura Click

    Yuck. I think parasite would be a great way to classify this one. That’s just too bad. I think there’s a lot of misuse of Facebook in this way. The trouble is, people trust the person and friend them because they see they are connected with other people they know.

    It sounds like you could really relate to this story from my friend, Ike Pigott. He goes “undercover” and discovers a fake profile on Facebook that was doing this very thing. You can read about it here: http://occamsrazr.com/2010/10/14/friending-strangers-on-fakebook/

  10. Laura Click

    Frazier – I’m SO glad you stopped by to weigh in on this today. The difference between you and what I described above is that you created an experience for your customers and they spread the word as a result. That’s an excellent social media strategy. That’s promoting your business without the constant selling mentality.

    I only used used car salesman as a stereotype here. The problem happens across a number of industries. Businesses often think that a constant stream of promotional messages will generate sales. Unfortunately, that’s a big turn off. Your story proves that there are positive ways to use social media to generate massive results for your business. You just have to approach it the right way.

    Thanks again for sharing. I hope a lot of people can learn from your approach!

  11. Meta

    I had a “friend” on Facebook who did this. She lifted people off of my friends list. It was so obvious that she was doing it, as every time I added someone new, immediately she was adding them as well-and then-trying to get them to buy from her or follow her!! One person sent me a private msg saying “You are the only friend I have in common with her, why on Earth did she friend me? Should I know her?” You should have seen the flood of PM’s I got after I de-friended this offender! I noticed that in short order, without any conversation, people on my list had done the same. One had PM me and said that since I was the only friend they had in common, she figured the girl was a spammer. So, if you lift people off of other people’s friend’s lists, be careful, you may end up in the same boat as this girl. I would definitely label this gal a parasite!!

  12. Frazier Hughes


    I disagree with the USED CAR SALESMAN post. I used face book to almost double my sales when I was in the car business. In fact (see below) I had a local magazine article written about me and how I used social media to sell cars. If it’s done right… It works. I recently left to go sell for Dale Carnegie. I don’t miss it.

    My Magazine Article About Selling Cars!
    * ( Education pg. 42-43)

    Take care,

    Frazier Hughes

  13. Cheryl

    What a funny piece. As I am on the internet more and more with twitter, facebook, emails, etc., I have encountered many of these personalities and have taken careful measures not to be one of them. Being helpful, honest and transparent has helped in growing relationships.

  14. Jennifer

    As a new blogger this was a great article…it’s easier to avoid a pitfall when you know what one looks like. Thanks Laura!

  15. Laura Click

    The pretenders – that’s a good one! I think that we could also classify those as bots, right? Most of the time, that’s the case.

    I think the private folks go into the Wallflower category. They are also the ones that tend to protect their tweets. Although I respect that, I’m not sure how much someone can get out of Twitter if their tweets are protected.

    Thanks for chiming in!

  16. NewYorkSartorialist

    Great Article- I can relate to every category you mentioned. Geez, there’s gotta be more. I’ve had a number of people go down my friends list and use it as their new pool of prospective friends. If someone says something interesting and another friend sees it and “friends” them… fine. To pick off by the hundreds is parasitic. You also just have the bad eggs that actually come across OK at first but you watch them long enough or get to know them only to find out they’re quite ugly behind the charming personality. You have the pretenders with fake profiles… what’s the deal with that? Why? I would want people to FR me for me, not because they think I’m someone else. Then there are the people who are so private they won’t even list what continent they live on or their own profile picture (of themselves). Talk about not having anything to work with. This could go on ad nauseam! It’s a new digital eworld!

  17. Kenlie Tiggeman

    I don’t really mind the back and forth chatter. I follow a few people who do this regularly, but if the topic is of interest to me, I chime in – much like I’m doing now. ;) If not, I look away for 60 seconds, and there’s usually something else going on.

  18. Laura Click

    Hmmm….there is a fine line with this one, Jay. I know what you’re talking about here, but I think conversations on social media are a good thing. I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage someone from engaging in a dialog.

    But, I do agree that sometimes people should move their conversation to a DM after going back and forth a few times. The good news is that you shouldn’t see all of that back and forth unless you are following both parties in the conversation.

  19. Jay Palter

    I love this post, but I am looking for words to describe a type that is missing. It’s the person who uses Twitter like it’s a private messaging tool – but they’re not DMing. They are having chatty conversations with people that are short on value for other readers. There are ways to have conversations on Twitter that add value to others – and there’s a point where those conversations need to go to a one-on-one channel like DM. It’s a fine line sometimes, but some folks are consistently on the wrong side of it. I’d suggest we call this type a ‘Chatty Cathy’, but there are lots of guys that do this as well as gals. Plus, I wouldn’t want to disparage all those lovely people named Cathy who are not annoying. I’ll leave it to you, Laura, to come up with the proper category for this type.

  20. Laura Click

    Now, you know it’s not just you! There are definitely personalities online that are universally a turn off.

    And, welcome to the Diva club! I think that we all have a little Diva in us sometimes. ;)

  21. Laura Click

    I’m glad you’ve found this advice to be useful,Taylor! I think we’ve all fallen victim to these at one point or another. Just remember that and you’ll be fine. I know you can do it!

  22. Laura Click

    You’re right – it’s always a good idea to explore ways we can be better. I think we all fall into one of these categories at one point or another, so it’s good to recognize that so we can keep it in check.

    Your comment echoes a post I’ve written previously – 7 reasons I won’t follow you on Twitter: http://flybluekite.com/2010/11/11/7-reasons-i-won%E2%80%99t-follow-you-on-twitter/

    People without bios are definitely folks I won’t follow. I don’t think that makes you a snob – it makes you eager to follow quality folks. Nothing wrong with that!

  23. David Williams

    Thank you for a fun assessment of the wrong ways to use social media. It seems that balance and a variety of content is the key. Doing too much of any particularly type of post can push you over the edge into annoying. I hope that my posts don’t fall into any of these seven categories.

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  25. Paola

    hei Thanks so much.
    Now I know why I was so annoyed by someone….

    It is also interesting to understand which one is also my personal treath. between Diva and wallflower

  26. Shawn Urban

    Thanks, Laura.

    It is always a nice to find ways to reflect on and critique one’s behavior for the sake of improvement.

    I guess I fall in that snob category, but only for spammers, obvious used car salespeople or people who leave NO bio and contact information about themselves in their profile (who I consider as spammers). Perhaps the NO bio people should be a ninth category. What should we name them?

    Usually, I at least thank people for following me. I follow those whose tweets and bios suggest that a meaningful relationship could be made. Most of these are professional; some are social.

    Thank you for the engaging post.

  27. Taylor Karras

    So true. You’ve accurately described at least one of the people I encounter on Twitter every day. You also gave out excellent advice which I am following through the heart. I know I’ve fallen into one of these definitions before but I’m working very hard to distance myself from that and build myself a engaged community.

    Sometimes being in the world of Social Media can be a hard thing, you have to worry about every minor thing and with my state, that’s like amplified to 100x. But I know that with your advice, I can get through it.

    Thanks Laura for writing this article up, keep up the good work!

  28. Laura Click

    The snob, eh? That’s a good one! I think we now have eight. :)

    There is a lot of debate going on lately about whether or not you should follow everyone (or most everyone) or only follow a select few. There are pitfalls either way. I think a lot of people are struggling with that.

    Either way, it’s always great to acknowledge and thank those who share your content. The trouble is that it gets harder and harder to do as your community grows. But, you can usually tell which ones make an effort and which ones don’t.

    Thanks for weighing in!

  29. Christopher Mitchell

    Thanks, Laura! Great summary of the critters that seem to inhabit social media–I see more of these everyday. As a newbie to twitter, I have identified another possible animal, which I would call the Snob. They never engage or respond. For example, thanking someone for a great post and politely noting that a shortened link or a tweet name doesn’t work for some reason, and getting absolutely no response to either a tweet or direct reply. Not even a new tweet to say thanks to follower(s) for reading and actually trying to click through. Nothing. Nada. But they immediately put out a new tweet with correction. Experienced this multiple times. The most amazing “snob” was a well known communications firm!

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  32. Linda

    Wonderful advice- I have been guilty of thinking I needed to stay professional and on topic all the time. Yawn, I was boring myself ( and probably others) to tears! Now I let my true self shine ( which is a happy go lucky, no where near troll type lady).
    Have a great day!

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  34. Laura Click

    Being new to social media certainly doesn’t make you a social deviant. I think there are plenty of newbies AND veterans who fall victim to at least one of these disorders at one point or another. Myself included. The key is to acknowledge that and recognize when you fall into these common traps.

  35. Brandon

    I’ll be honest, Stanford and Laura, I was slightly nervous about reading this post, lol! I just KNEW that my newbie-ness would be on display… thank heavens I didn’t make the naughty list!

    Excellent advice, and something SEVERAL people in various streams needs to read; although I think we all walk a very fine line sometimes on the used car salesman bit. I understand what you are saying, as I have seen the exact blurbs you mentioned, but it’s a challenge sometimes!

  36. Yakezie

    I really enjoy this whole Social Media Guru field. It provides endless amount of entertainment!

    Frankly, it makes me happy!

    The Yakezie Network

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