For a lot of people there is a big learning curve with Twitter. I even remember not quite “getting it” when I first signed up – it took a few weeks of playing around to finally realised what a powerful tool it can be.
Thinking about my own experience with Twitter and listening to what others – both newbies and seasoned pros – have to say I have come up with the five stages of Twitter usage:
Before I explain each stage however, I want to clarify few things.
- Each stage is not absolute. One melds into the other, so you are not a “Listener” and then an “Explorer”, but rather you keep listening and then start exploring, and so on, all the way up to networking
- There is no set time in which people move through these stages. Some people take longer than others to get from one stage to the next, and it greatly depends on how often you use Twitter as to how quickly you move through the stages
- Some people stop at one particular stage and never progress any further, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I find the people who do this are mostly casual Twitter users or people who are using Twitter for a particular purpose, like listening to what people are saying about their product or brand
- And, finally, you generally get better at previous stages as you progress through each stage. So by the time you reach the Sharing stage, you are exploring much more and your listening skills have greatly improved
Now that I have clarified all that, it’s on to the description of each stage:
At this stage you are new to Twitter and are not totally sure you know what you are doing. It’s all a bit of a mystery.
You have started following some celebrities from when you signed up, and a handful of friends. You are tweeting a little bit but you are listening – or rather reading – other people’s tweets, trying to get an understanding of how all this works, and learning the etiquette.
A lot of people stop using Twitter at this stage as they don’t quite get how it can help them and are completely mystified. Those who keep at it however, move into the next phase.
After the initial listening phase, you start clicking around and exploring the features of Twitter and finding out more about what it can do for you and what you can do with it.
You are adding more targeted followers, and others have started following you. You are communicating with people and have learned the wonders of the re-tweet, and what those damn hashtags mean. You are also discovering a new world of third-party apps – both for your computer and your phone – to help you manage Twitter.
All these new discoveries help you to start moving into the next stage.
By this stage you are comfortable with Twitter and have the basics figured out. You are still learning new things, but are comfortable not only using Twitter but the third-party apps as well.
This encourages you to start sharing in a big way. And because of this you are starting to attract more followers. You have discovered that the more of your personality you show the better Twitter becomes, and have completely forgotten about those early inhibitions you had. And, most of all, you have realised how powerful Twitter really is.
Checking Twitter is becoming a daily habit.
At this stage your confidence has grown considerably and you are ready to move on to the next stage.
You have now discovered your own voice on Twitter and you are adding a lot of original content.
Perhaps you have a blog and have begun posting links to your posts, re-tweeting other people’s posts that you found interesting, or just spewing your thoughts for all to hear. You are talking to people who share your interests and have met a lot of great people and discovered a lot of useful information via Twitter. You are now tweeting regularly.
Which is when you are ready to move into the final stage.
You are truly mastering Twitter. You are meeting people you met on Twitter in real life and are getting a regular stream of people following you due to your stellar content and ability to share and engage with others. You think of some of your Twitter followers are real friends. And they are.
As you can see not everyone is at the same stage, but the more you use Twitter the better you will develop the skills you need to master it. If you need any help at any time please feel free to contact me here or via Twitter (or Facebook).
One final question remains, which stage are you in?