"What's the point in sending all of this seemingly useless crap Bernie? Most of the people I know are spending their time actually working?"
I recently had this comment posted on one of my status updates on LinkedIn about a Social Media article.. I've also heard the following in some of my discussions...
"I think Social Media is going to be the next big thing, but I'm not sure when..."
It seems that we are in the "chasm" of adoption with regard to Social Media. But THAT chasm is not at a personal level, that chasm is at the business level. Let me explain...
Way back in 1960 Everett Rogers developed a "Diffusion of Innovations" graph depicted below. You may have heard of this marketing study but for those that haven't here's a quick synopsis. With successive groups of consumers adopting new technology (blue), it's market share (yellow) will eventually reach a saturation level. This defined some very specific terms:
In 1991, Geoffrey Moore authored "Crossing the Chasm" that discussed his adaption of The Technology Life Cycle graph, or TALC,which depicts how new technology is adopted.
According to Moore, the marketer should focus on one group of customers at a time, using each group as a base for marketing to the next group. The most difficult step is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority). This is the chasm that he refers to. If a successful firm can create a bandwagon effect in which enough momentum builds, then the product becomes a de facto standard.
However, Moore's theories are only applicable for disruptive or discontinuous innovations. Adoption of continuous innovations (that do not force a significant change of behavior by the customer) are still best described by the original technology adoption lifecycle.
"I can see where we can use social media as a great marketing tool but a couple of guys on our Executive Board just started using email so they don't get it. Do you have data you can send me about how many people are using it?"
Social Media is technically in a state of "continuos innovation" at present, but because of the myriad of social media outlets available it tends to be 'discontinuous' and THAT is the Chasm: The platform as a whole is successful, the individual outlets, like MySpace, may not be.
Business decision makers are quickly overwhelmed by the myriad of social media tools. They want to know "How does it work?" and get bogged down in the tools instead of focusing on "How can we use it?" At a personal level social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have hit a tipping point at the individual user level but business use is at the "Chasm"
If you look at the history of technology, said high-tech guru George Forrester Colony in 1995, "there is a threshold where one day, you had to have a fax machine. Remember that day? It was 1981 or something. You had to have a fax machine on that day. The day before, you didn't need it"... "And there came a day, I think it was last year, when you had to have an e-mail address."
- Wall Street Journal, 1999
Individuals are using social media. Business's are just beginning to discover social media and starting to think about how they can use the tools. But that still leaves many with
"I did some checking and I can't find many of my customers' Facebook pages I don't think they are using it"
That comment rings true. But that is where the error in understanding social media begins. Social Media is NOT about business to business relationships (yet) it's about a personal affinity to a brand. Social Media has not crossed the chasm of business to business. As an example, although you can "favorite" one of your customers Facebook pages on your Facebook page, that company has no way of yet knowing that you did that. That's because the focus has not been on companies and brands but people to people. 46% of your customers are using social media. The "Early Majority" Pragmatists are 'in"
Another big part of the problem with Social Media is that it not just ONE tool. It's a complete tool set. And the tool set is completely different. It's akin to taking someone from 1820 cutting down trees, hewing the logs into shape to build a log cabin and plopping them down at a modern construction site with cordless drills and saws. It's easy to be overwhelmed. Coming from that log cabin environment, it's pretty easy to see an article headline reviewing a new cordless drill feature and think "wow, that's alot of useless crap, I've got some trees to cut down"
Below you can view the most recent Pew Study. As always, I look forward to your comments.