Hype as a Part of Nature? The Gartner Hype Cycle
Patricia | Apr. 1, 2010


One of the concepts introduced during the 60SecondMarketer’s online social media roundtable I recently attended was the Gartner Hype Cycle. Developed by Gartner Research for nearly every industry, the hype cycle helps marketers decide where a technology falls in its lifespan and time their efforts accordingly. There are five phases:

Technology Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories—often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.

Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.

Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.

Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.

Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention lately would agree that social media networking is solidly atop the peak of expectations, and headed into the trough of disappointment. Taking the long view, though, and paying attention to the hype cycle, we know the ride will get smoother.

For those who worry they will miss the social media boat if they don’t act immediately, the good news is there’s plenty of time. Most applications like Facebook and Twitter, if they continue to provide worth, will likely make it through to the plateau of productivity. Some would argue they already have.

Comments are closed.