What Tyler Durden Can Teach You About Twitter And Social Media

Would Tyler Durden have used social media? Quite possibly, but probably not in an entirely productive way. I very much doubt he’d have been tweeting about what he had for breakfast, or been overly bothered about how many chumps he infected on Facebook (at least, not in the standard way).

Still, there are lessons to be learned about social media from the things that Tyler said, even if we have to be a little creative and put some reverse spin on his intent, doing a little paraphrasing along the way.

“The First Rule Of Twitter Is: You Do Not Talk About Twitter. The Second Rule Of Twitter Is: You Do NOT Talk About Twitter.”

See, this is your problem – you’ve been obeying Tyler’s first two rules. Maybe you’re a brand, maybe you’re businessman, or maybe you’re just somebody with something to sell. Or something to say. So, you’ve set up your Twitter account, followed a few people, been followed back by a few more, and that’s it.

Finished. Over. You’re done.

What Tyler Durden Can Teach You About Twitter And Social Media

Why stop there? If you want to boost your profile on Twitter, you need to think big. You need to think out of the box, and move beyond believing the only way to expand your presence on the network is on the network. Sure, you might chat about Twitter with your friends, but you need to do more. Put your Twitter profile on your business card. Put it in your email signature. Put it on your letterhead. Tell clients to find you on Twitter. Encourage your Facebook friends to follow you on Twitter.

Don’t be embarrassed – Twitter is becoming a really big deal. You need to be talking about it.

“You Are Not A Beautiful Or Unique Snowflake.”

You’re really not. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. Twitter has about 20 million users – what separates you from the other 19,999,999? What can you do to stand out? To be unique? What makes you different from them?

"You Are Not A Beautiful Or Unique Snowflake."

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.”

Tip: The answer does not lie in Twitter’s much-derided, “What are you doing?” Think outside the box. Be different. Be interesting.

“People Are Always Asking Me If I Know Tyler Durden.”

Do you know the things you stand for, that you believe in, that you want to accomplish in your life? If you don’t know who you are, how can you possibly convince anybody else?

"People Are Always Asking Me If I Know Tyler Durden."

“Hey, you created me. I didn’t create some loser alter-ego to make myself feel better. Take some responsibility!”

Take a moment to think about why you’re using social media. Maybe it’s to promote and expand your brand, to network with people in your niche, or to meet and chat with new friends. Frankly, the reason is less important than the knowledge; knowing what you’re doing there.

Figure out your purpose, and run with it.

“If You Wake Up At A Different Time, In A Different Place, Could You Wake Up As A Different Person?”

As you join a new social network, it’s very easy to feel that you’re ‘starting over’, and lots of people use different forms of social media in very different ways. That’s fine, and the differences between, say, Twitter and Facebook, encourage the user to update accordingly.

However, if you’re trying to establish a brand, and certainly if you have anything to promote, it’s pivotal that you keep many things the same. Your profile picture on Twitter should be the same as your profile picture on Facebook, Friendfeed, LinkedIn, Google, MySpace and anywhere else in which you’re active. Change it on one, change it on them all.

"If You Wake Up At A Different Time, In A Different Place, Could You Wake Up As A Different Person?"

Think of your profile photo as your logo – people identify and categorise images way before they see any accompanying text. Don’t change your picture too often, but when you do, change it everywhere.

Be consistent in the things you say and do. The last thing you want is for people in your network on Twitter to be saying that they couldn’t find you, or worse, didn’t know it was you, on Facebook or Friendfeed. It’s great that you have strong opinions and can back up your beliefs with educated arguments, but if you’re saying X on one network and Y on the other, people are going to be confused.

“On A Long Enough Timeline, The Survival Rate For Everyone Drops To Zero.”

The internet is the greatest resource mankind will ever know. Everything and anything is being written about and recorded, then discussed, catalogued and ranked. Even you. Especially you.

Your online reputation is so important. All it takes is one big slip-up and you can be in a lot of trouble. Your mistake is always going to be out there. Everybody is going to know.

"On A Long Enough Timeline, The Survival Rate For Everyone Drops To Zero."

Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and we all say and do silly things that we regret. But be mindful that you don’t act or say things in a way that leave a permanent scar on your record. Try to limit your emotions when you’re part of an online debate. Don’t tweet drunk. If you’re going to criticise, try to do so constructively. Nobody likes a hater.

The longer you’ve involved in the game, and the longer the game continues, the greater the likelihood that you’re going to drop the ball. Only after disaster can we be resurrected. Eventually, it becomes an inevitability. Accept that, be prepared, and pick it right back up again.

“This Is Your Life And It’s Ending One Minute At A Time.”

So don’t waste it. Social media is a blessing and a curse. It’s great if you’re using your time on the networks productively and with purpose, but it’s very easy to switch off and just let Twitter and Facebook eat up a lot of hours, despite our initial best intentions.

"This Is Your Life And It's Ending One Minute At A Time."

“You had to give it to him, he had a plan. And it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way. No fear, no distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”

Don’t fall prey to time-suckage. Get things done. And if you find yourself distracted, step away from the keyboard. If you find this difficult, consider setting yourself timed limits, or restrict your social media use to the same specific points of the day.

“You Are By Far The Most Interesting Single-Serving Friend I’ve Ever Met.”

It’s very easy in social networks to hook up with hundreds, even thousands of people, and very quickly build a network. But if you’re not doing any actual networking, what’s the point? It’s just a number. And the more people you’re hooked up with, the harder it can be to personalise your relationship with any one of them.

"People Are Always Asking Me If I Know Tyler Durden."

Chris Garrett recommends using Microsoft Excel to build a spreadsheet of basic information about the people in your network, including events like their birthday, as well as their interests and anything else that might be useful. “We all know how nice it is when someone remembers our birthday, or remembers to wish us luck before an important business appointment or speech,” says Chris, “The people who manage to achieve this get extra credit and a social leg up.”

It’s worth noting that having a strong, relative and engaging relationship with a few hundred people is far more beneficial than having little to no engagement with tens of thousands.

“His Name Is Robert Paulson.”

Too frequently we only really learn about somebody after a tragedy, or a major, life-changing event. Or we’re too busy doing our own thing that we lose sight of the social aspect of social networking, and potentially important contacts and relationships get neglected and overlooked. And suddenly it’s too late.

"His Name Is Robert Paulson."

Take the steps to maintain and nurture these relationships. It pays to befriend the little guy – these are the individuals who will take you to the next level. And if they get to the next level, they’ll always be grateful for your help.

“Just Ask, Man.”

Need some help? Have a problem you can’t solve yourself, and nobody at Twitter or Facebook is responding to your messages? Ask. Just ask your network. Put out an open request for assistance, and people will try to help you. And if they don’t, you need some new people.

“A Guy Who Came To Twitter For The First Time, His Ass Was A Wad Of Cookie Dough. After A Few Weeks, He Was Carved Out Of Wood.”

To get the most out of Twitter, or any social network – indeed, to actually get it at all – you need to make a proper effort. This doesn’t mean you need to be on the network 24/7 – thirty to sixty minutes per day of concentrated and focused updates are more than adequate, and this kind of approach to online socialisation can prevent you from falling foul of time-suckage.

"A Guy Who Came To Twitter For The First Time, His Ass Was A Wad Of Cookie Dough. After A Few Weeks, He Was Carved Out Of Wood."

I do believe, however, certainly for Twitter, you need to drop in at least once per day, even if it’s only to touch base. There are periods in all of our lives where this is not possible – work commitments, family emergencies, holidays etc, and that’s fine – but generally you need to ensure that you’re keeping in touch. If time is an issue, I recommend  15-30 minutes twice each day, once early morning before work, and once when you get back home. This will ensure you maintain the minimum required presence within your network, and allow you to keep up to speed with the latest news, trends and events.

There’s an equilibrium within Twitter that is desirable – if you’re on the network too much, you can get lost in all the noise. Too infrequently, and you’ll always feel like an outsider looking in. Like everything in life, finding that balance is important, but I would recommend erring on the side of doing more rather than less.

On the first day of school, everybody is a newbie. As time passes, and social media becomes an everyday part of your life, your influence and stature within these networks will rise exponentially.

“After Twittering, Everything Else In Your Life Got The Volume Turned Down.”

It drives my wife crazy. I’ll be on Twitter, writing an article about Twitter, or writing an article about writing an article about Twitter, and my wife will be saying something important to me, and I’ll be nodding along, going, “Hmm, yes. Definitely,” and three days later we’re at the doctor’s office and I find out I agreed to a vasectomy. Without anaesthetic.

"After Twittering, Everything Else In Your Life Got The Volume Turned Down."

Everything in moderation. It’s just so easy to get lost in this stuff. And when you’re completely immersed it always has a negative effect on your productivity, both within the network and in ‘real life’, too. It’s important to be active in social media, certainly if you’re trying to promote yourself or your brand, but if it’s your life, you need to step back.

Worker bees can leave. Even drones can fly away. The Queen is their slave.

Nobody wants to be that guy who died at his keyboard wearing adult diapers. Nobody.

“You Wanna Make An Omelette, You Gotta Break Some Eggs.”

You cannot, and never will be able to please everybody all of the time. No matter what you do, and no matter how positive and admirable your intentions, a certain percentage of people will always find fault with the things that you do. Find the cure for cancer, and somebody will say it you should have done it sooner.

"You Wanna Make An Omelette, You Gotta Break Some Eggs."

Constructive criticism is one thing, and giving it your attention can reap dividends. But some people just like to complain and criticise, and there is nothing constructive in the things that they say. You must learn to ignore these individuals. There is little to no point in opening any kind of discourse with them, because they are not interested in the exchange of ideas. You will just be wasting your valuable time.

Moreover, sometimes your biggest fans will be upset by the things you say or do, too. And sometimes your biggest fans will soak up a huge amount of your time in requests for help. There’s only so much of you to go around; you’re going to have to make some important decisions about who gets what. And you’re always going to have to do this. Learning to politely say ‘no’ is an important skill.

No matter how hard you try, and how good you are, some people will always be critical of your decisions. Accept that, and move on.


Twitter was just a wink in Biz Stone’s eye back in 1999 when the Fight Club movie was released, and it would be almost a decade after Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel was published before Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook. So while it’s fair to say that Tyler Durden wasn’t talking about social media in either the book or the film, we can easily apply his wisdom to our networking incentives and goals, even if we have to mix it up a little. Figure out who you are, figure out what you want, and go after it.

And remember the new first and second rule of social media: talk about it. A lot.

(Yes, some of the images and quotations in this article have been used out of sequence to that of the movie and each other. Some have also been tampered with, edited, re-phrased and jiggled about a little. Yes, I’m comfortable with that. I am enlightened.)