Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Personality and marketing

I am learning, as I explore the world of writing and publishing, that the 21st Century author must have a strong online presence.  The three big places you need to be are on your blog, on Facebook, and on twitter. I've got the first two, but I'm having a difficult time with number three.

There are quite a few people I would love to follow on twitter. They say interesting things and I'd love to hear their frequent updates. It's not that I don't want to join because I am uninterested in the tweet stream of others. It's that I just don't know what to tweet about, myself. And yet that's an important part of modern writing: marketing yourself.

I think it comes down to personality type. I recently took the Myers-Briggs personality test and discovered that I am an INFJ personality, which is, apparently, extremely rare (a whopping 1% of the population has this personality type).
INFJs focus on possibilities, think in terms of values and come easily to decisions. [They] ... have [an] unusually strong drive to contribute to the welfare of others and genuinely enjoy helping their fellow men. This type has great depth of personality; they are themselves complicated, and can understand and deal with complex issues and people.

INFJs are usually good students, achievers who exhibit an unostentatious creativity. They take their work seriously and enjoy academic activity. They can exhibit qualities of overperfectionism and put more into a task than perhaps is justified by the nature of the task. They generally will not be visible leaders, but will quietly exert influence behind the scenes.

INFJs are hard to get to know. They have an unusually rich inner life, but they are reserved and tend not to share their reactions except with those they trust. Because of their vulnerability through a strong facility to interject, INFJs can be hurt rather easily by others, which, perhaps, is at least one reason they tend to be private people. People who have known an INFJ for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that INFJs are inconsistent; they are very consist and value integrity. But they have convoluted, complex personalities, which sometimes puzzle even them.

INFJs like to please others and tend to contribute their own best efforts in all situations. They prefer and enjoy agreeing with others, and find conflict disagreeable and destructive. ...INFJs have vivid imaginations exercised both as memory and intuition, and this can amount to genius, resulting at time in an INFJ’s being seen as mystical. This unfettered imagination often will enable this person to compose complex and often aesthetic works of art such as music, mathematical systems, poems, plays, and novels. In a sense, the INFJ is the most poetic of all the types. 
 (quoted from Myers-Briggs Type Indicator General Profile at Purdue University).

I don't know about the genius bit, but the rest describes me pretty well. And it is comforting to know that I'm in good company: Chaucer, Goethe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jimmy Carter, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and quite a few famous actors and actresses (who would have thought that introverts would become actors!).

Interestingly, this rare personality type seems to be quite common among writers. A recent blog personality survey (which seems to have been taken down) indicated that at least 25% of writer respondents shared this personality profile with me. Well over 50% shared the Introverted, iNtuitive, and Feeling traits. There must be something about these traits that make for good story-tellers. But does it make for enthusiastic tweeters?

I am working hard to overcome my introversion and am getting closer and closer to joining twitter. It's just another step on my journey, and I'll let you know what happens when I do.

Take the Myers-Briggs test, yourself.  What's your personality type? How does it affect your life?


  1. I couldn't resist. I've taken the Meyers Briggs before, but I wanted to see if the results were the same. They were. I'm an ENFJ--just like you only louder. The profile says it makes me take care of other people and have weak psychological boundaries. Another says I should be a politician or a counselor (Barak Obama and Oprah are ENFJ) But I'm so very glad I'm not either of them. Too much damned work...

    You can be shy and still use Twitter. I actually almost never tweet about myself, and don't follow people who do (except literary agents.) I mostly retweet good stuff other people tweet, or links to interesting articles.

  2. Hi Anne,

    That's a huge relief, thank you! Deep breath... inching closer to the Twitter registration page.... :)

  3. Last time I took the test, which was about 7 years ago, I was also an INFJ. 1%, huh? Well, I'd say I'm in good company.

  4. That's right, Kristin. Our 1% is quietly changing the world. :)