The Five Phases of Using Twitter

This is just a general observation and is in no way scientific, but I’ve noticed that a good number of Twitter users typically go through the same few phases as they adopt and learn to use the increasingly popular microblogging platform. Or social network. Whatever you want to call it.

Part of this comes from my own experience, to be sure, but I’ve also noticed similar patterns among some of my friends as they dive into the world of Twitter. Some of these folks have been with Twitter for a couple of years and others have only been on board for a couple of weeks. Let me know if you think you see a similar pattern when it comes to Twitter usage.

1. Apprehension and Resistance

Everyone starts here. They may not understand Twitter, say that Facebook is more than enough for them already, or they’re resistant to the constant flow of information. They’ll say that they’re not interested in what people are having for lunch or why a person is annoyed at waiting more than 15 minutes for the subway to come.

I was there once. Then, as more of my friends signed up for the service, I figured there was no harm in giving it a try. It was then that I moved into phase two of Twitter usage.

2. Casual Use and Celeb Spotting

Aside from the few friends I knew who were on Twitter, I didn’t know who else to follow initially. That has changed, partly because the platform is more mature today than it was a couple years ago, but the newbie Twitter experience is still very much the same. I started looking for some interesting celebrities to follow and it seems that many new Twitter users do the same.

In fact, if I recognized who the celebrity was, there’s a good chance that I followed them at some point. After a while, though, I started to recognize that celebrity spotting on Twitter isn’t nearly as fun as I thought it would be.

3. Amassing of the Followers

While still trying to keep my Twitter etiquette in check, the next phase involves trying to amass a good number of followers. Initially, it’s hard getting people to follow you on Twitter, but it’s so easy to follow someone else. This results in a less than desirable follower-following ratio, which can lend itself to even fewer followers. Not good. You want to gain followers and you’ll link back to your Twitter profile every chance you get.

4. Forging of Real Connections

I think this is the phase where I find myself today. The focus is much more on making real connections with real people, sharing links and pictures, and forging these relationships through our casual networking online. It is partly through Twitter than I am able to build my brand and it can also serve as a source of referrals for my freelance writing business.

By and large, I don’t follow too many non-personal accounts anymore and I don’t participate in sponsored tweets as much as I have in the past. It’s more about communicating with real people, even if it’s through a computer screen.

5. Disenchantment and Disengagement

Ultimately, most Twitter users will end up in this final of stages. They’ll start to lose interest in Twitter, updating less and less often until they don’t update at all. They’ll start to go on “mass unfollowing” sprees until their list is whittled down to a few close friends. At that point, they may as well stick to Facebook or pick up the phone. I’m not here yet. Are you?