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The Three Stages of Social Media

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Is this the next big thing? Will I be left out? Should I be involved? Is it too late? These are all things that we ask ourselves when it comes to participating in social media. More than that, we ask ourselves these questions when new sites or platforms are introduced.

Social media is just like all things. Whether it is a product, service, fad, or even a TV show, there is a cycle to its life. There is a beginning, middle, and eventual end. Yes, even in social media, there are HOT items that have come to an end. Remember Yahoo Chat Rooms? They no longer exist due to spammers and inappropriate use. What about MySpace? It’s not used anymore for many reasons, but primarily because their competitors developed a better product. The stages we see in social media can be divided into three main categories: Introduction, Growth, and Maturity. We will break them down now.

Introduction

This could also be called the “what is it” or “is it relevant to me” stage. During this stage, the primary users are usually known as Early Adopters. These are the people that pride themselves on their knowledge of all things related to social media. This is the best phase for investigation to occur on a personal level, since many platforms don’t offer corporate accounts early on. This gives you the opportunity to view its features, relevance, and how it relates to your business and demographic. In other words, “How can I use this?”

Growth

The growth stage can best be defined as the “I’m hearing a lot about this” stage. You are hearing about it from people in different spheres of influence. This may include your coworkers, friends, kids, or even the neighborhood babysitter. It is not loud initially, but it is consistent and eventually becomes louder. It is cool, it is the place to be, it is the site to use. At this point, a commercial presence is usually strongly underway. If not already involved, you should be. The basic landscape, style, and voice of the site are well established and you can develop strong tactics to be a presence on the site during the early parts of this stage. It is usually easier in this stage, versus later, to establish a following both personally and for business as the people on the site still tend to view it as community versus commodity.

Maturity

This is the phase where almost everyone you know is on the social media site. Media outlets have incorporated it into everything they do. At this point, being on the site becomes expected by certain buyer targets. Early adopters may be dropping off the site or at least decreasing usage, but this is more than made up by everyone else’s use.

Creating a new base for engagement becomes more difficult as most people have settled into habits and are not looking for additional interactions unless it is very relevant to them and their life. The sheer volume of user interaction can also act as a filter to seeing your message and reaching your target. This is why a strong plan, usually involving more costs in the form of promotion, advertisement, or increased staff to work harder for engagement and keep up with ongoing changes is often necessary.

So go ahead, ask yourself again: Is this the next big thing? Will I be left out? Should I be involved? Is it too late? The answers might just lead you toward the best social media strategy for you.

If you need help deciding which social media platforms are right for you or would like to create an account on a newer platform, contact Creative Sizzle! Give us a call at 847-255-5555 or fill out our online contact form to get started today! And speaking of social media, be sure to check us out on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter!

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