Tag Archives: stages of social media use

Thoughts on Achieving Social Media Maturity

I read this post about the ‘Five stages of social media maturity’ which made it’s way onto my Twitter stream a few days ago and found it particularly interesting.  One of the things, by the way, I love about Twitter is the way that by expanding the people I follow, I constantly get ‘hit’ by fresh and different information.

Anyway, it’s  from PR Weekly and in a field that I am wholly unfamiliar with but the basic premise is that within organisations there are five ‘stages’ to go through to reach the elusive ‘social media maturity’. This is taken from a report published by Forrester Research.

The five stages are

1. Dormant – Resistant to any use of social technologies due to unwillingness to participate

2. Testing – Individuals or departments test in isolated pockets

3. Coordinating – Management begins to coordinate across teams and departments

4. Scaling and Optimization – Organisational shift towards growing and improving social applications

5. Empowering – Organisation fosters all relevant employees; fosters and rewards top performers.

While I like this model for organisations, I’ve been pondering about how we achieve ‘social media maturity’ as individuals too and wonder if there is a parallel model.

Obviously when we are referring to people, personalities become a key point but I thought of the five stages of social maturity for individuals could be relevant too, in terms of understanding the process of finding new ways to communicate. We are all of us learners.

So my equivalent ‘stages’ are

1. Dormant – this would be the scepticism before we ‘jump in’. You know, the ‘Facebook is for stalkers’ or ‘Twitter is just people saying what they had for breakfast’ type approach. It’s easy to understand because it’s human nature to fear and feel sceptical about what we don’t understand. Until we know something, we can’t understand it.

2. Testing – these are the first steps we take into the new ‘online’ world – whether it’s forums, or bulletin boards, Twitter, Facebook or mySpace, we (and the speed depends somewhat on the personality) begin to try things out. We begin to take things (and ourselves) too seriously at times. We suffer from this. We get into flame wars. We test the limits including our own.

3. Coordinating (Building links) – this is what I’d call branching out and is one of the first stages of ‘understanding’. It comes from building links of use to others and working out the etiquette (oh, remember when it used to be called netiquette!) of the social environments. Using the jargon attached appropriately and moving beyond entertainment and novelty towards utility and information.

4 Scaling and Optimization (Branching Out) – This would be about building new networks, using different platforms. Trying things out and using the skills and base that has been created to create your identity and differentiate it. You are, by now, using the tools to gain and share information as well as to entertain. There is no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way but there are social norms to adhere to and you are mastered them. Never, of course, forgetting the importance of the person behind the screen both on your own side and on the other side.

5. Empowering – I like the term ‘empowering’ so will continue to use it in this new model. It is about not only using the means well for your own purposes but helping others to learn along their path. Learning that sharing is more important than giving and information is not a limited commodity owned by particular institutions over others.

I’m not an expert by any means. I think I’d place myself in the third or fourth category but I’d be interested in the opinions of others about what the stages might be and if they are transferable to individuals as well as organisations.