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Five Stages of Twitter Relevance

Art, with some elements of Inspiration

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I’m already fielding internal (as well as external) questions about the application of Twitter in a manufacturing company, and I’m developing a reasonably good model, I think – one that will apply to the hard-core, salt-of-the-earth, manufacturing business leader that I’ve worked with at many organizations.

This “maturity model” approach has been used before; back in December of 2008, Bhagarva sketched out the Five Stages of Twitter Acceptance – but that model only helps existing bloggers and social networkers understand this terse little idea spitter. Kind of like explaining OOP to a COBOL developer – I get the general idea of coding (communicating), but you’ve changed some of the basic rules like procedural vs. event handling (short and immediate vs. in depth and permanent).

This doesn’t help explain YACMTTCDFE (Yet Another Communication Method That They Can’t Distinguish From Email) for those still struggling with Web 2.0 and Social Networks. If it doesn’t arrive in their Outlook inbox, I’m still facing an uphill struggle getting them to understand the mechanism, let alone the concept.

However, I’m getting a decent level of results when I draw parallels to concepts that these folks “grew up” with. The level of understanding and acceptance directly correlates to the level of relevance that the Twitterverse might have for their current information sharing needs. They typically ask …

How exactly do I understand Twitter and it’s relevance to my work day?

  1. Pointless: This has absolutely no value add, a complete waste of time – get back to work!
  2. Cute: An interesting and different communication medium, but I gotta get back to work. Maybe over lunch …
  3. Web-Based Texting: Conversations about nothing in particular, but at least you’re starting to connect. Not sure how it is better than IM, but some don’t even use that …
  4. A Cocktail Party (or maybe the corner bar): Twitter is filled with cliques that are easy to eavesdrop / butt in on – a chance to develop your skills and awareness, and engage larger, targeted networks with pointed conversations about specific topics that I deal with every day. But no pressure, we’re just hanging out ..
  5. A Community: Like a trade group, guild, or local Chamber of Commerce, one that requires and rewards participation. At this highest level, Twitter is both a source and a use of awareness, knowledge and understanding; conversations are multi-directional, real business value is being generated.

I can illustrate these levels with examples from my favorite Twitter Search columns in my Tweetdeck (Search:SAP)

  1. Do I really care if the sap is running this spring?
  2. Funny, I get hits when people watch sap-py movies. Oh, those wacky homonyms …
  3. Twitter as a job board – every SAP job listing pops up. Wait, did I just see a trend tweet by?
  4. Hmm, lots of interesting SAP practitioners are talking about live projects and cutting edge programming work …
  5. Interesting conversations pop up when Oracle buys Sun, or SAP announces the latest product enhancements – I can get a near-real time pulse on market sentiment

I’ve piqued their interest, but now they want to know what “real business value” really means. I’ll post on that next time … stay tuned!

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