No Safe Spots On the Social Media Adoption Curve!

No Safe Spots On the Social Media Adoption Curve

By: Daniel Jeffers - Search Engine Strategy - 2013

Adoption Curves Make Me Feel Safe

Once upon a time, there was a nice little curve that comforted people about the inherent disruption new technology tends to bring.

A new, improved model helped people make rational business decisions:

Some people took risks and made a lot of money trying to bring a technology over "the chasm." Many more went too far to the left and got hurt. Somebody, either the wizened survivors or the low-risk sideline laughers gave this region a new name: bleeding edge. Stay away if you don't enjoy risk. The biggest hazard to the right side is being called a "laggard."

The Social Media Adoption Curve - Same Comforting Shape

A lot of commentators use the same model to describe adoption of social media. Descriptions of costs, benefits, and risks echo the same mantra - pain to the left, comfort to the right.

But Social Media is Not a Technology

Social media is made of the same stuff as Soylent Green. People. People with information, people sharing information. Many of the platforms are technological innovations. But that's only relevant if you are investing in the platform. Most organizations looking at these curves are considering how to engage in social media as a communications strategy. The bleeding edge for this is no longer way over on the far left.

Who Is Bleeding Now? The Laggards!

First, the technology changes. At the beginning, everybody uses slide rules. A few kids switch to calculators. Then a few more. Then there's a sweeping change and only you and a couple buddies are still using slide rules. You haven't really lost anything, your slide rule works just fine. Plus, you can't swordfight with a calculator.

But what if there's a change to the way people communicate? Someone changes the rules of gossip. Confidences are now made and broken according to a different teenaged algorithm. Some feelings are suddenly acceptable, but others are now a major social faux pas. Being a laggard is now dangerous. A slow turn on the slide rule may give some kid with a fancy calculator a better chance. But now a wrong word, mis-identified friend, broken (or sometimes kept) confidence can bring down the wrathful angst of the dreaded peer group. And you only have one slide rule to fight them off with.

Down The Road

We will explore this further in future issues of BDS Notes. We will look at how organizations are trying to take advantage of social media's benefits while protecting themselves from the hazards.