7 Stages of Social Media Uptake

7 Stages of Social Media Uptake is an explanation of the learning curve companies undergo with Social Media. It describes the stages in a very realistic way and explains the journey many go through on the pathway to developing their skills. It highlights the mistakes that others have made, that we can learn from. Have a look at this and consider where you are in the cycle.

Before this stageAmbivalence. For some the Social Media view is the “I don’t really know or care about Social Media. What relevance is it to me?’ 

Stage 1  Internal Enterprise. Negative attitudes to Social Media. Typically certain Social Media sites are blocked due to negative influences. Stage 1 is a challenge of attitudes towards Social Media and those who use them. Firewalls block all Social Media. The thinking on Social is ‘one day’. One Day we’ll set up an internal blog, wiki, collaborative knowledge management system, Yammer. The CEO would quite like an iPhone app. One day.

Stage 2 Monitoring, Listening. This is about getting ready for the Social Media go live. It is the Stage before developing strategy through an analytical research phase: monitoring brand, mentions, traffic, keywords. It involves setting up listening posts. It provides good information for developing the strategy.

Stage 3: The broadcast phase. With many months gone by and very little content online, there are incidental 100 or so hits to a company’s YouTube, a few fans in the Facebook Page, a few leads from that article way back when and a LinkedIn discussion that got the conversation going for a few weeks.

Stage 4: Viral Distribution attempts. With sense that more can be achieved a budget is stretched to create the one big piece of content. Maybe it’s a video. The viral video (don’t ever ask a Social Media person to produce one – there is no guarantee). Then limited sharing occurs.

Laurel Papworth 7 stages of SM uptake
Laurel Papworth 7 stages of SM uptake

Stage 5: Campaign. Community Engagement. This is a major behavioural change, and is tenuous as it is tempting to return to the broadcast habit. Someone made a comment in-house that a Facebook competition might work well. As the campaign is a short-term strategy traffic and interest is temporary. They didn’t really get to know their prospects and clients. The Facebook page & Twitter accounts are named after the campaign not the product or company so in haste they are  removed. All their multiple campaign pages are just too hard to manage. With multiple pages loyal followers don’t know which accounts to follow. The brand loses its connections. Brand owners didn’t realise the options to rename or drive its membership into one place.

Stage 6: Collaboration. Seeking help. Brands start to ask for help to improve their Social Media habits and skills. They seek the imput from the community to shape the way the product or service is designed. Beware how this is done – I’ve seen very trite & superficial requests for input that are intended to attract attention and self promote rather gain genuine feedback.

Stage 7: People Powered Social Media This is about simply providing the social space for online community commerce to continue. Put up the platform then stand back and let the community do commerce. You get a clip of every sale and solve some tough problems for them. Some examples of this are elance:  a recruitment company that allowed members to put up a job and for other members to bid on it.

TT After word: Somewhere in the middle of all this is supposed to be Social Media ROI and other measurement to tweak the programme. Some may be so overwhelmed that they revert to the easy methods of broadcast. The leap from Stages 5 to 7 take enormous effort. A realistic approach to the level of activity and content is not clearly understood by even some Social Media consultants. I’ve seen those who’ve been around for 2-3 years – one who spent almost a year before the client revenues were adequate. The client and consultant seemed unaware of the work required to achieve the same results in 3 to 6 months.Yet we’ve consistently got results within 3-6 months in the same sector, in the same city.

What else is missed that needs to be included? What is your experience of the actual mix of activities and activity level required to build Socially? Where are you in this 7 Stages of Social Media Uptake cycle?

Re-written by Jenny Wilmshurst – Social Media Consultant, Social Media Speaker and Trainer. Thanks for Laurel Papworth’s original blog post and her thoughts the above is based upon. Laurel’s experience is valuable.


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