Retweets: Lesson on The Adoption of New Technology

Love or hate Twitter, one thing for sure, users of Twitter are innovative.  As an example, consider the 'Retweet', or simply the 'RT'.  During a recent New Media Dayton Meetup I overhead someone say that they would RT someone. Of course, for those of us that use Twitter, we know what she was talking about. For many others, this sounds like a strange, new new language.

The 'Retweet' is a powerful tool for creating word of mouth campaigns. It is how we pass on topics of interest that are shared by friends to other friends (friends = followers on Twitter). How did it work? If you wanted to RT a tweet, you simply copy the message, add an 'RT' in front of the message, and then post it to your followers. It is that simple!

A few weeks ago, a new RT feature was added to Twitter.  There are a few differences in this implementation compared to what we will call the 'old' process.  For me, the biggest difference is that the old process allowed the user to add comments to the original tweet. I often add comments or in some cases modify the tweet so that a link or some important content is not truncated. Mashable recently conducted a poll to see if Twitter users preferred the 'old style' RT or the new function. They reported that 64% of users preferred the old style RT. What can we learn from Twitter's response to the RT innovation.

I am sure there are many takeaways from this case-study. The observation that hits home for me is that the innovator should not ignore current process. This act of editing or commenting on tweets is part of the 'process' that adds real, or at least perceived value for the user (or, the customers). To get broad adoption of technology or innovation, you need to consider the current process. How will your new innovation change the process? Will the new innovation be viewed as intrusive? Does it prohibit some valued activity?

I am not suggesting technology or innovation is bad. I am suggesting that understanding the current process can help in launching new technology in a way that will result in higher levels of adoption. What do you think?