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The 5 stages of Twitter from a PR perspective

July 16th, 2008 by Lloyd Gofton

I began experimenting with Twitter at the start of the year, and in that short space of time have observed a dramatic change in usage patterns of the micro-blogging tool.

From a communications perspective, this can be broken down into different stages of adoption, which I feel offers valuable lessons in how user behaviour is evolving as a whole across social networks. Only today, within my own network of followers/followees, I felt we might be on the cusp of  a new adopter stage, and so I thought it might be a useful exercise to analyse this in my own words, to see what lessons can be learnt.

  1. Discovery – at the start of the year (and admittedly the year beforehand), Twitter was very much in early adopter stage. The tech-savvy were the first to try it and decide whether or not it was a useful communications tool. This stage was characterised by a sense of ‘elite’ ownership i.e. those using it felt inspired by the fact that they were living at the cutting-edge of social media.
  2. Experimentation – Twitter asks the question : ‘What are you doing?’. Following early-adopter phase, users experiment with how they can respond to this question in an interesting way, increasingly pushing the boundaries of usage. Functionality moves from basic status updates to more engaging conversation.
  3. Self-promotion – as Twitter networks grow, users realise the profile-raising potential of the communications tool. Until very recently, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people using Twitter for PR/self-promotion purposes. A growing trend has been to use the tool as a platform for seeding blog posts, product launches etc.
  4. Collaboration -we’ve been heading towards this for the past month or so, but today I saw Twitter come alive as a truly collaborative tool. Social media encourages openness and honesty, and within networks Twitter can be a great place to ask advice and receive timely, expert feedback. It’s a great virtual tool for the sharing of ideas, and bouncing around of creativity.
  5. Criticising – it’s bound to happen. Just as Twitter reaches its usage peak, people will start to want more than the tool is technically capable of delivering. Users will start asking “what’s next?”.

Which leaves us with ‘Migration’. I think Twitter has a bit more life left in it yet though!

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