The 5 stages of Twitter acceptance.

Originally published by Rohit Bhargava on his brilliant Influential Marketing Blog, I thought it was particularly useful to new users of Twitter whilst still appealing to the more frequent user. It essentially allows you to find out where you are at in the familiarity process of using Twitter. Still, when I tell friends and family about Twitter and how I think it’s fantastic, they look at me as if I’m from another planet.

They don’t get it. They are at Stage 1. That’s fair enough, it’s not for everyone, but it’s up to me to tell them what’s it all about and whether I think they would get any value from it. For some it just wouldn’t work, but for others it’s become a staple part of their online life who went from Stage 2 right through to Stage 5. There’s many out there like Guy Kawasaki for example who I’d say are at Stage 5 or even Stage 6 if there was one but choose to use it more as a promotional tool for his site Alltop.com. That’s more of a Stage 3 activity. There’s no denying that Guy is a true inspiration and offers value with his blog posts and tweets but he’s used Twitter to build up an army of Alltop fans that help him spread the Alltop word by posting links to new categories and interesting stuff. Nothing wrong with that, power to the people!

Talking of all things Alltop, a great place for beginners to start would have to be Twitterati which features the top ‘tweeters’ across the globe. For example, Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, Chris Brogan, Leo Laporte, Chris Pirillo and Hugh MacLeod. Have a look and see how they do it, follow them, and get started!

So I bet you’re thinking Twitter is the new kid on the block, it’s a fad, it will all die down soon. It’s been around for a while, several years infact. Only now is it garnering mainstream attention. The Mirror picking up on Jonathan Ross’s presence on Twitter, or the Guardian’s coverage, or the Telegraph, you get the picture.

As the days go by, the numbers who are discovering Twitter is shooting up, it’s experiencing rapid growth YOY. A few stats.. everyone loves stats!

  • 70% of users joined in 2008.
  • 20% have joined in the last 60 days.
  • An estimated 5-10,000 new accounts are opening every day.
  • The average user has been on Twitter for 275 days.
  • 80% of users have a bio on their profile. (I personally don’t follow users without a bio)
  • 62% have a photo on their profile.
  • Traffic has grown 600% over the last 12 months.
  • Total user numbers are between 4-5m with approx 30% unengaged.

(Sources Hubspot and Compete)

It’s not there yet, but it’s getting towards reaching the tipping point. It has potential for business also, success stories are starting to emerge from well known brands who are establishing a presence and engaging with their audience. Perhaps most famously, Dell recently reported that they have made more than $1 million dollars through their DellOutlet Twitter account. It’s clear that there’s value to be had from many angles.

I use it myself as a way to 1) learn 2) converse 3) pass on any useful info or links i’ve found. It’s all about the community and sharing instead of finding a useful link and keeping it to yourself.

So what stage do you think you’re at from the 5 above? As a brand, do you have authentic 1 to 1 conversations without promoting a product or service? As an individual do you use it as an information resource or as a communications tool like Facebook or MSN?

My question to you, all of you, is How do you use Twitter?

Have a hugely enjoyable break, merry christmas and enjoy the new year.

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14 thoughts on “The 5 stages of Twitter acceptance.”

  1. I can’t use Twitter, i live in the UK so we don’t get SMS updates. Which means you can only access it online, which makes it just another blogging site. It is of no use whatsoever.

  2. To Rohit’s point: I suspect that he misunderstands me. I seriously believe that marketing time spent talking to one person is called “customer service” or “sales.” People who have used Twitter well in the past include both these functions – but (taking @comcastcares or @delloutlet as examples) fall squarely into those two baskets.

    Look – I’m not saying that the occasional one-to-one conversation isn’t a good thing. I’m just saying that sniping at targets isn’t what we’re paid to do by our clients. Anyone tells you different, they’re either lying, or a web guru.

  3. Perhaps level six is “Evangelize.” Anyone that is able to articulate the psychological adoption from a blank screen deserves a “Level 6″ categorization.

    Just like stages of grief, a person can revolve around these levels in a circle. Someone that microblogs in brilliant fashion 6 times a day for a week might revert to conversing or dumping for several posts.

    Participating on Twitter cycles like many things. Regardless of how adoption happens, it is clearly on the front edge of a wave for how people will expect to communicate in the coming years.

  4. Thankfully I’ve moved to level 5 but slip back down the ranks every so often. I had to laugh at the opening remarks about trying to teach others. I’m home for the Holidays and have been trying to explain twitter to friends and family with no reception. Oh well, I definitely have enjoyed the service.

    @startmysong

  5. For me it’s like being at the head of a large group of cattle, the twitter exeriences reminds of the same chain of events that transpired when I first joined Friendster, than myspace, on facebook, and now the twit’r. the later seeming to have the greatest potential for growth due to simplicty, and its ability to satiate extremly short attention spans with a constant stream of links.

  6. For me Twitter is used as a platform for direct 1 to 1 communication with both the industry and peers. I have direct access to real time discussions, thought leaders, crowdsourcing info, conversations and quick research that increases the wealth of my knowledge. Twitter has enabled me to improve my social graph through direct access to experts and like minded individuals, ‘people like me’, who welcome being interrupted.
    With regard to Mat’s reference to Cluetrain, Twitter is a fantastic example of what a bustling and buzzing marketplace would have sounded like. I’ve also witnessed business transactions taking place via Twitter such as putting web site designs out to tender amongst the Twitter community. It is a communications tool that is useful for the right markets. I’ve worked my way through all of Rohit’s steps and I’m now at the ‘customised’ stage where I’ve mashing them all up into for my own individual use. One size definitely does not fit all but the acceptance stages are good benchmarks.

  7. Michael,

    Thanks for reposting and sharing this idea – looks like it sparked some interesting commentary with your readers. For me, the direct conversations are a big reason why I find Twitter so personally useful. It is also what makes it so hard for a brand to use. As Mat’s comment shared, many people in communications roles aren’t ready or willing to have this one on one conversation. And for some, that’s probably the right decision. I think as more brands continue to evolve their approaches, a tool like Twitter will offer businesses something that they have long been dreaming of, but never had … a direct way to communicate with customers that are only PASSIVELY satisfied or unsatisfied – but not enough so to contact you or your company. Until today, businesses had no way to reach these individuals, and now they do.

  8. Part of me really likes this list. And part of me (the part that tears out its hair at the phrases “authentic 1×1 conversations” and “converse 1×1 authentically”) despises it. Let’s address the bad bit first (more fun.)

    How come the only bit of the Cluetrain Manifesto that anyone seems to remember is the word “conversation”? How did “conversation” come to replace my previous bête noire, “dialogue”? Just what does an inauthentic conversation sound like? As communications planners, do we truly want to have one-to-one conversations (isn’t that the role of the retailer, the sales team, customer support, and customer relations?)

    (phew — out of my system.)

    I like Twitter. At the moment it seems like a nice crowd: friendly, ready to help one another out.

    It seems stable enough for others to use as a platform to build their businesses (e.g. StockTwits.)

    It has a good strong ecosystem of people developing for it. Mostly from love and for egoboo. It’s a very homebrew crowd.

    And it’s simple. I like simple things. I have an electric screwdriver at home — it’s great at screwing things in and out, but useless when its batteries run out, or as a paint-tin opener, or as a potential fish-spear (OK – I could have given that list more thought, but I’m sure you know what I mean.)

    How do I use it? There’s no rhyme or reason, really. I’ve treated it like a great big chatroom most of the time — but a chatroom with “geography”. Some people are close to me in the room, so I can hear what they’re saying while others are further away, so I only hear about them and their deeds via others (whether that’s a retweet or simply hearing a friend’s response to their tweet.)

    I’m not sure I like it as a way of introducing myself to someone, but it’s a very good way (particularly for this crowd) to cement a new relationship. Once upon a time I used LinkedIn for this, then Facebook (although I like that less for ‘online only’ relationships) and now I use Twitter.

    I use it as a research tool (mostly I just “track” stuff, but the search.twitter.com is pretty good.)

    And – of course – I use it as a way to promote stuff that I think is relevant to the people who follow me. I’m a little wary of this and have only started doing it recently. It feels a little like spamming if done poorly.

    So – in terms of Rohit Bhargava’s list, I sort of went 1,5,4… I hope.

  9. I’d say I’ve gone through all of those stages. I originally started using Twitter to see what all the fuss was about and promote my blog a little bit. I now see Twitter as just as important if not more important than my blog. In terms of conversations and building relationships with people I think it’s a lot more useful than commenting on blogs.

    I think we might start seeing a lot more cool tools and ways to use Twitter next year.

  10. I’m looking forward to running the “WTF is Twitter?” session at Splendid in the nY. I’ve been banging about it for ages and I think the penny’s dropped with some members of the old skool PR teams. However, the only way you’ll ever get Twitter is if you throw yourself in, head first.

    There really is something for everyone on Twitter.

    For anyone looking to follow some crap Crimbo cracker jokes (#crapcrackerjokes) then click here: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23crapcrackerjokes

    Ho Ho Ho Ho Plop (yup – that’s Santa laughing his head off)

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