I am an owl. I do not Tweet.
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  tina_williams twitter social social-business social_style
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Understanding your social style: I am an owl. I do not Tweet.
Are you reluctant to start Tweeting? Getting involved in social networks like Twitter for business use hasn’t been natural for me. In a business environment, I tend to spend a lot of time listening and learning at first . Then, when I feel confident in my understanding, I begin voicing my opinions.
I hadn’t thought much about how the way I interact in a work setting might help me understand how I interact in the social universe. But in a recent workshop, the facilitator helped our group understand our unique personalities in a way that gave me more confidence in my social style.
Our facilitator directed participants to group themselves as one of four animal types: a lion, a horse, a monkey or an owl. I found these same animals defined on the Speak First web page with tips and hints for effective communication.
The lion personality would “leap to challenges, take decisive action and seek to dominate the problem-solving process.” To be honest, I see a part of myself in this personality, but I tend to view myself more as a facilitator than a controller.
Horses “value close personal relationships and actively listen to the opinion of others.” Again, I could see myself in this type, but I also like to lead and have my voice heard.
Those with a monkey personality “love to be involved. They tend to dream the dramatic, taking risks and persuading others to follow the rainbow.” I’d really like to say that I’m a monkey, and maybe in small ways I am. But overall, the monkeys are what I would classify as the fun people, and I’m just too serious to place myself in this category.
Owls “attend to detail and tend to have serious personalities. Driven by data, owls are intellectual, structured and organized animals, devoted to ‘getting it right.’” While I’m not an exact fit with the owl type, I do feel it’s the closest match to the way I operate, especially in a business environment.
What really helped me was when the facilitator explained how others might view an owl. He said that owls are sometimes overlooked because they don’t jump in and share their views right away. Their quietness can incorrectly be viewed as disinterest or lack of knowledge.
When I heard this, I knew that I needed to overcome my reluctance and get more focused on my social engagement, but that it was also okay to do it in a way that was natural for me.
Don’t overthink it
When I joined Twitter, I was reluctant to tweet because I didn’t want to sound lame. I envied the natural and easygoing style of @ThingsSheSaid and @Colleeni. And these words stuck in my head, although I can’t remember who said them: “I follow people who are a useful filter for me.” I wanted to “get it right.”
Despite my misgivings, I decided that I needed to get involved. As my followers slowly crept up to 100, I experienced the emotional roller coaster of going over and under this magical number. What I finally realized is that any involvement on my part translated into a gradual and constant increase in my following.
Interact like you normally would
As the owl, I’ve felt most comfortable with first just listening and then gradually reTweeting information I find valuable. Instead of following hundreds of people right away, I started with a few who were Tweeting information that I found useful or interesting.
Apparently following too many people too quickly can also make you look suspicious. As an owl, I’m glad that someone had shared this tip with me because I wouldn’t want to draw any negative attention to myself. I’ve opted to stay conservative in this area for that reason and have gradually increased those I follow as my followers grow.
Practice with those you feel comfortable with
If you are part of a small group that’s getting started on Twitter together, it’s a good idea to follow each other and use a group hashtag to “practice” using Tweets for communicating. This will give you a jump start. We did this during our workshop to share pictures from the week and even to make dinner plans and stay in touch outside the workshop.
When presented with canned Tweets with links, I always first read the blog or watch the video or view the website and find something that I feel comfortable saying on my own. It’s important to me that I’m authentic in what I Tweet. If someone were to hunt me down in person and ask me why I promoted a blog or a video or a product, I’d want to be able to say with confidence why I posted on that subject.
Experiment and try something new
I also started participating in some Twitter chats, such as the #cloudchat hosted by IBM and other chats around topics I’m interested in. Most of the time, I’ve found out about Twitter chats through the people I follow. I’ll see some hashtag in the form of #...chat in their Twitter stream, which is my way of knowing they are involved in a Twitter chat.
During a chat, I follow along by searching on the designated chat hashtag, and sometimes I even participate in the conversation if I have a question or feel confident that I have an opinion others might find valuable. It’s when I’ve participated in chats that I’ve seen an instant increase in my followers. And this is also one way I’ve found new people to follow.
Adopt a little monkey attitude
Hopefully this has been helpful to the other owls out there who are just starting their social networking journey. Don’t let the world miss out on your valuable opinions and insights. Just develop a little monkey attitude and get involved.
You can find me on Twitter at @ideasattjw. If you are an owl too, what tips do you have to share?