What do early adopters of social web applications look like?

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the model that includes early adopters and laggards. Some people embrace your new product early and evangelize it to their connections. Others wait, and adopt it once there is a critical mass.

Many think of early adopters as having certain characteristics. We think of them as people who have a tendency to embrace new ideas early, people who look for new product announcements, people who are recognized by others as trendsetters. They tend to be young and male. They like technology.

I’m beginning to wonder if this model breaks down when we think about the social web. One of the first activities one undertakes on many social systems is to add connections. But early adopters on new social systems don’t add others because they are also early adopters, they add people because of an affordance set by the service. For example, on a music sharing service people add others who they want to share music with. On a family connection service, they add their parents and relations. On an event planning service they add people they want to meet face to face. Their first degree connections are people they want to communicate with.

The likelihood of early adopters’ first degree connections having the classic early adopter characteristics listed above are low. We probably need a complete rethink of Everett Rogers’ model for the diffusion of innovations.

The two people who adopted on day 2 have very different characteristics. You can imagine how this effect would cascade.



  1. I can only imagine what this would scale to. depends on the archetype of the mother. Is she open for a new way of communicating with her son? Does the structure of the network (usability) come easy to her and does she so see some kind of added value for herself, next to talking to her son? Or watching him on party-photos…

    If there is, maybe she would invite her bookclub and form a group to discuss the next meeting, books to reed, etc.

    Then the early adopters adopters would form a totally different group, next to the second stage early adopters.

    As my written English is a little bit rusty, I hope, I could make my thoughts clear. I am very interested in these topics so thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world.

    Greetings from Hamburg, Germany.

  2. I also think the model has changed (although not had time to do the research to look at what that change actually looks like)….

    You might like a post I wrote a while back…..”Have We Already Crossed the Chasm” http://leighhimel.blogspot.com/2008/05/have-we-crossed-chasm.html

  3. I am sorry I’m not familiar about Adopters and Laggards, can somebody explain to me what is it?

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