Sometimes I’ll throw it into a conversion I’m having with a client or with friends at a dinner party. It think it makes me sound like an academic – or maybe pretentious; I don’t care… it’s fun to say. So what does it mean and why am I using it in a blog post discussing Social Media and online marketing? I’m glad you asked.
Diffusion of Innovation is the study of how technology or an idea moves through a society or population of people. I like to relate it to online marketing, and specifically Social Media. In my lifetime at least, I can’t think of any “thing” that was adapted and used by a mass of people, as rapidly as Social Media.
Whether we choose to believe it, the fact is that Social Media has become integrated into every aspect of our lives and it influences decisions we make on almost a daily basis.
→ Before I continue, this would be a good place for you to pause and check your phone for a twitter update or quickly “like” the check-in your friend just posted on Facebook. ←
Okay. Now back to our discussion.
Are you using Social Media or is Social Media using you? That’s like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg?
The average consumer of Social Media is fairly oblivious to how valuable their use of Social Media is to Marketing guys like me. The Social Media platforms make great efforts to ensure that their tools are fun and easy to use for the consumer, because almost every single interaction can be quantified and ultimately monetized.
A skilled online marketing professional is proficient in analyzing this information. By studying the behaviors of their audience, they can begin to anticipate their actions. This makes for some very powerful opportunities to position a Brand or offer.
Back in the day, I may have placed a newspaper ad in the Sunday paper for a client. While it may have been effective, it certainly doesn’t compare to what Social Media allows me to do today.
Using a location targeting tool like Foursquare, I can send an offer to a consumer moments before they walk past my client’s coffee shop. On Facebook, I may display a special offer to a customer and wish them Happy Birthday… on their Birthday! I even could tailor an advertisement on LinkedIn to a Paralegal working at a specific Law firm 2000 miles away. It’s mind-blowing really.
Friends, family and clients often ask my advice on how to interact with their various Social Media profiles. On a personal level my initial response is the same; don’t be afraid of it and don’t waste your time trying to outsmart it. You will never win. Use it or don’t use it; but understand that it will continue to influence our lives. From a business perspective, regardless of if you use Social Media personally, recognize the power that it offers you to connect with customers on a level like nothing you’ve experienced before.
Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or LinkedIn didn’t forcefully push themselves and Social Media into our lives. They just made the technology available. We as a population chose to respond to it, use it, and share it. We welcomed it into our lives as a new friend with which we share intimacies of our daily lives. We allowed it to change the way we conduct business, spend our money, and entertain ourselves.
I am perpetually fascinated by how and why this happened; and by how we will continue to let it evolve and define who we are and what we do. From my perspective at least, that is the definition of Diffusion of Innovation; and if nothing else, food for thought.