In marketing circles, the term 'early adopter' is used to describe someone who embraces new technology, products, concepts or trends before most other people do. The early adopter and its counterparts (innovators, laggards and luddites) are part of the Diffusion of Innovations theory which explains how new ideas, techniques or artefacts migrate from creation to use.
I am not what you would call an early adopter. The fact that I blog about business etiquette rather than, say, the creative application of Twitter attests to that. Skeptical by nature, I'm not drawn to things that have not yet been proven useful in the popular culture. I have no inborn desire to be the first at anything and would rather let others work out the bugs of untested gizmos and platforms.
Once new things gain a foothold however, I'm happy to jump on board in a way that works for me and to help others learn how to make the most of new technology. Right now, there's a lot of buzz about social media and how companies can use tools like Twitter and Facebook to achieve their objectives and talk to their audience in new ways. While it's tempting to jump on the bandwagon and figure out a strategy after the fact, we recommend a three-phased approach to testing these applications - you have to link, learn and then lead.
The truth is, if you have something to market, you can't afford to ignore social media. Even if you're not ready to mount a full-scale program, you need to LINK. Get accounts on Linked In and Twitter, check out some Podcasts, link to some blogs you like. Once you're there, take some time to LEARN. See what others are saying and doing in this sphere and how people are using it successfully. You'll get an idea of the time, transparency and frequency required to develop and update a successful blog or how the right message can really take off on Twitter. Finally, it's time to LEAD. Thinking about your passion, product or service, what opportunities exist for you to take a leadership role. Is there a space that you can claim as your own?
Social media is here to stay. It's too late for you to be an early adopter but you could still be part of the early majority. Just don't be a laggard or, even worse, a Luddite.
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