Apr 25, 2010

Top 10 Biggest Tools on Twitter


Do you call yourself a social media expert? Use the word "tweeple"? Retweet everything Ashton says? If so, you might be one of the biggest tools on Twitter.

Twitter's full of colorful characters. From musing musicians to orbiting astronauts, the 140-character universe seems to have a place for everyone. And that includes total tools.

Twitter's biggest tools do plenty of irksome things. They stalk celebrities; they share information you wish you could unlearn. Some spend time on Twitter purely to talk about how you should spend time on Twitter (social media expert, anyone?). Whatever their tactic, though, they all share one common characteristic: They are unequivocally and unapologetically annoying.

Here's your guide to the 10 biggest tools on Twitter. If you see someone you recognize, by all means let them know. Just don't send out the link 20 times. That'd be a real tool-like thing to do.


1. The CelebriTool

A social media phenomenon exclusive to Twitter, the CelebriTool spends his days interacting with famous people -- if by "interacting with famous people," you mean "having one-sided dialogues with celebrities who aren't aware of his existence."

The CelebriTool is the type of person who follows all of Twitter's A-listers: Ashton Kutcher, Kim Kardashian, and other stars who should've by now become memories of cancelled reality shows. But it's not the following alone that defines the CelebriTool; it's the action that accompanies it.

The CelebriTool, you see, thinks he has a real connection with people like our ol' pal @aplusk. He responds to everything Ashton says, adding insightful commentary to the already riveting updates. For example:

Ashton: "I'm going to go look for trouble. I'll let you know if I find any."

CelebriTool: "@aplusk Sometimes trouble just sneeks (sic) up on you."

The CelebriTool is a huge fan of the retweet function, too, enlightening his fellow tweeters by sharing every morsel of wisdom typed by the likes of @KimKardashian. Allow me to direct your attention to Exhibit B:

CelebriTool: RT @KimKardashian: Up early today! At the gym!

I don't know about you, but my life is certainly enriched.


2. The Social Media Moron

The social media moron -- sometimes described with euphemisms such as "social media expert" or "social media guru" -- is perhaps the most notorious of all the Twitter tools. This specimen is identifiable by his habit of using Twitter to talk mainly about Twitter and how you can more effectively use Twitter, all in a manner that doesn't very effectively use Twitter.

The social media moron spends most of his time discussing the fact that he is a social media moron (though the term "expert" or "guru" is likely to be used in self-referential circumstances). This incessant discussion is conducted primarily for the purpose of convincing you that he is, in fact, a social media moron, as there are no real qualifications for the title.

The social media moron's counsel tends to consist of obvious things any 12-year-old could figure out: Interacting with people is good. Following lots of people will result in some of them following you back. Sending out nudie pics may cost you clients but will win you friends.

(OK, that last bit was from Vanessa Hudgens. But it's still valid advice.)


3. The Kawasaki Guy

Named for everyone's favorite Twitter-blaster, the Kawasaki Guy is the fellow who tweets out links at the seemingly impossible rate of 5,734 updates per second. (I read somewhere that 34 percent of Twitter updates are somehow tied to @GuyKawasaki. That number may be exaggerated, but it sure seems about right.)

A true Kawasaki Guy pays a team of ubertools to do most of the tweeting for him, rarely exerting any effort with his own finely tuned fingertips. The beauty of the Kawasaki Guy, though, is his ability to repeat tweets numerous times, all while sprinkling in marketing messages and convincing people it's part of a personal friendship.

In other words, this Guy's been coached by a real social media guru.


4. The Oversharer

If social networks are giant pharmacies of information, we're all the white-coated wizards behind the counter. Sometimes, however, the info-dispensing can be taken slightly too far.

This compulsion for expulsion is the calling card of the Oversharer, a common tool seen lurking about Twitter's virtual hallways. An Oversharer thinks the world wants to know what she had for breakfast this morning, or how many miles she just ran at the gym. She may even share unnecessary information on such topics as sexual endeavors, bathroom activity, or some highly disturbing combination of the two (don't ask).

The Oversharer gets disproportionately excited about Starbucks runs, YogaBerry decisions, and countdowns to the next episode of "Lost."


5. The Autotweeter

A close cousin to the Oversharer, the Autotweeter takes the concept of TMI and automates it. While the Oversharer isn't likely to be bragging about personal hygiene, his unwanted updates are no less irritating.

The Autotweeter gets his kicks from using services that help keep the world apprised of all sorts of useless factoids. Some Autotweeters might set Pandora to send out updates on every track they're listening to (did you hear that @leonlulu is listening to "Rocket Man" by Elton John?). Others might use Foursquare or similar geolocation utilities to let us know they've become the mayor of Toolville or arrived at the Bennigan's on Who-Gives-a-Flying-Fudge Boulevard.

Maybe geolocation's great if you're on the sending end, but does anyone else really need to know you're scarfing down a Filet-O-Fish at your fourth McDonald's of the day?


6. The Autofollowing Tool

We've all gotten 'em: those bizarre Twitter followers who don't seem to actually know you or care what you have to say. They might be hot chicks with obviously fake profile photos, or cheesy-looking salesmen with smiles broad enough to make your stomach churn. Either way, there's no logical reason they should've started following you.

So what's going on here? It's simple: These lovely ladies and gents are Autofollowing Tools. Autofollowing Tools use programs to seek out and follow random people with the hopes that they'll follow back. Kind of like social media experts, only with more diverse areas of interest.

If you aren't sure if you've been hit by an Autofollowing Tool, just look for the automated direct message; Autofollowing Tools love those things. If your newest pal DMs you to let you know how much he's looking forward to reading your tweets and learning more about you, it's safe to respond with the following:

"Learn this, good sir: You are a tool."


7. Mrs. Inspiration

Unless you're a direct descendant of John Bartlett, there's simply no excuse for sending out a nonstop stream of quotes on Twitter. But that's precisely what our next Twitter tool, Mr. Inspiration, loves to do: bombard us with quote after quote, minute after minute. We get it, dude: You just discovered Bartleby.com. Don't make us suffer.

To be clear, I love being inspired as much as the next guy. But seeing 77 Mark Twain sayings every hour doesn't inspire me to do much besides bludgeon myself with an oversized rubber mallet. And you can quote me on that.


8. The Forced Engager

Following a Forced Engager is kind of like having lunch with that 87-year-old aunt you see once every four years: The questions are corny, the conversation's generic, and neither one of you is really paying attention.

The Forced Engager is typically someone who read an e-book suggesting she build a rich social network. The key to doing this, of course, is "engaging with followers" and "gaining valuable connections." This translates roughly into "asking clich├ęd open-ended questions in painful attempts to start conversation."

Tweets from a Forced Engager read like an interview for college admission:

"If you could meet any celebrity dead or alive, who would it be and why?"

"What's your proudest moment so far?"

"Who's been the biggest influence in your style?"

The better question might be: "Why can't I come up with anything less tool-like to say?"


9. Johnny Abbreviations

With a 140-character limit, abbreviating is sometimes a necessity. Other times, however, words are condensed on Twitter for no discernable reason.

The people behind this curious condensation are a breed known as Johnny Abbreviations. Johnny Abbreviations -- or J.A. for short -- throw out terms such as "wut," "gd," and "ur" more often than Apple throws out iPhone apps.

If these abbreviations were being used in occasional long-winded tweets, they'd be easier to forgive. But when you send out a message that says "hope ur hvng a gd day ppl!" -- well, ur abbrvtns rnt rly srving any prpse, r they?


10. Tommy Tries-Too-Hard

Our final Twitter tool is an amusing little creature known as Tommy Tries-Too-Hard. Tommy Tries-Too-Hard is incredibly excited about Twitter. He wants to get in on every single facet of the experience, usually all at the same time.

Some of his telltale signs:

  • Overuse of hashtagging. When every #tweet has at least two #hashtags, or #every other #word is #hashtagged, you know you're dealing with a T.T.T.H.
  • Uninventive responses to trending topics. Tommy Tries-Too-Hard has to jump on every trending topic he sees, even when he has nothing original to add. If nothing else, it gives him an excuse to use another hashtag.
  • The regular use of terms such as "tweeps," "tweeple," or any other made-up words involving the letters "tw." One of these every four months is permissible; any more puts you in Tommy T. territory. (Unless you're Elmer Fudd. Then we'll look the other way.)
  • Follow-gaming. Tommy Tries-Too-Hard is all too aware of his Twitter follower count, and not in any quiet fashion: He'll constantly let you know how close he is to his next major milestone and how you can help achieve it ("About to hit 500 #followers! Help me get 10 more! #I'veNeverTouchedAWoman").

I could twax on for hours, my tweeple, but I have trending topics to attwend to. I look fwd to reading ur comments and learning more about u, tho, just as soon as I finish this Filet-O-Fish sandwich.



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