Why Companies MUST Create A Social Media Plan

As you already may well know (but to refresh your memory), there are five types of consumers as defined by the Product Diffusion Curve; (1) innovators, (2) early adopters, (3) early majority, (4) late majority, and (5) laggards.

According to the model, five different groups of people will purchase your product (or in this case move to social media) at different stages of the product’s life:

  1. Innovators: Members of this group include in-the-know consumers who are willing to take a risk on a new product.  Innovators either have a pressing need, or are wealthy enough not to worry too much if the product doesn’t work.  They’ll most likely be knowledgeable and self-confident and (if they’re to be influential) may be people that others look up to.
  2. Early Adopters: Members of this group gauge the response of the Innovators before rushing in purchasing a new product.  They’ll probably be educated and somewhat product savvy.
  3. Early Majority: Members of this group are more cautious and prefer to avoid the risk associated with purchasing an unproven product.  Generally, members of the Early Majority group accept a product only after it has been approved by members of the Early Adopters group, waiting for the recommendations or product endorsements from those who have experience with the product.
  4. Late Majority: Members of this group are more skeptical.  They are late to jump on board and do so only after a new product becomes main stream.
  5. Laggards: Members of this group are more than simply skeptical.  In fact, they generally do not accept a new product until more traditional alternatives no longer are available.

I find myself emotionally in the early adopters ranking but when it comes to action I am definitely in the early majority more times than not.  There are always exceptions but early majority is my honest position.  I care about my money and on what proven technology to chase but I tend to do it fairly early in comparison to others I know… so maybe I’m an early early majority.

This has not been the case with social media.  I really became entrenched fairly early and am as much a student of the various tools as I am fascinated to learn how each works and how each differentiates themselves from the other tools available.  I also jumped into the personal branding aspect and am a believer in this as well.  I like to save articles shared on by those I follow on Twitter and read them later in the evenings.

What I am most shocked and surprised at is how long it takes for local business to enter the social media space.  There is a huge market of locally owned businesses to create an account and provide free marketing and customer interaction and customer service.  The advantages are endless and all it takes is a bit of time.

Have a look at some of the companies and individuals on the sites such as Twitter: Microsoft, Bill Gates, Apple, Steve Jobs, President Barack Obama, Oracle, any number of US Senators, ESPN and a number of ESPN company owned spin-offs, Rachael Maddow, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and so many more that I am forgetting to include.

Some companies are comfortable being an innovator and giving something a try.  Innovators represent the first 2.5% of people to adopt a new product.  These companies tend to have a champion internally who drives this and believes in the result and can influence whomever else is needed to push it into action.  When something like social media raises its head, why not chase it?  Best case, business improves and you are a leader.  Worst case, you get out early and no money was spent (outside of personal time).

Some companies are early adopters and begin to get their feet wet.  Early adopters represent about 13.5% of the total consumer population.  This is after they see a few companies test the waters and determine early positive results and that they too may create something positive from it… but still trying to figure out the best way to do it.

Some other companies are early majority (like me).  The early majority represents 34% of consumers.  We find the early success is proven and now are working to stay up with competitors or the guy next door.  Like I said, I love to be on the brink of technology but I research and read about items to make the best decision for me and how to best utilize it to really make it work.

Others are in the late majority, not a great position to find you in but still showing interest.  The late majority represents about 34% of consumers.  Playing catch up is never good but better late than never I assume is the thought here.  Companies here are typically a bit more on the conservative side and do not always see the benefits of trying something out earlier.  There is potentially too many ideas that come out of this that are viewed as more negative than have been proven to date.

Still a significant amount of businesses are laggards which really is the scariest place to be in this medium.  Laggards represent about 16% of consumers.  This pretty much says that you missed the boat and now need to play catch up to all of your competition and partners.  This is much more of a reaction mode that a company must now join the fold because they cannot ignore this product/technology any longer.

To me, this raises numerous questions about companies who come late into the social media space… Do businesses truly know their customer?  Do businesses know where to find consumers?  Do businesses know how to communicate in an evolving market?  Do businesses market themselves into today’s marketplace effectively?

Companies must engage and be a part of this movement.  Social media is here to stay, just some of the tools to use it may and will change over time.  Make a plan, or better yet – work with someone who can help you with this plan, and put it into action.  Don’t be a laggard into this space or business may pass you bye, get in the game as early as you can!

 

NOTE:  I have truly enjoyed connecting and speaking with many of you on this topic and look forward to continuing to meet and speak with many more of you as well.  (References on the Product Diffusion Curve:  http://www.quickmba.com/marketing/product/diffusion/  and  http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_93.htm)

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About kufarms
10 years in HR and recruiting both in the corporate and agency worlds. Corporate Recruiter and Socail Media Strategist. Looking to share and discuss topics as well as hopefully provide some thought. Dad of 2 with a loving wife.

2 Responses to Why Companies MUST Create A Social Media Plan

  1. Steve Savage says:

    Agreed – Social Media is unavoidable.

    I’d also note two more things:
    1) As technology speeds things, the ability to fall behind increases. Now me I am not an early-adopter for the most part, I like to let things shake out – but I keep an eye on trends to know what’s happening.
    2) People have to develop social media strategies that are foundational – based on building real things. Otherwise it is just jumping on the bandwagon.

  2. kufarms says:

    Steve,

    Great points! Love your first point, you nailed it.

    To your second point of building real things, in social media you can and will build something real if a person or business understands the real value. I believe that more often than not, people find why it is may not be of value and then build a case as to why not do it, and have their mind made up for them, rather than to be objective in their decision process.

    This is not in everyone’s comfort zone but in the same case, businesses need to evolve to keep up with the market.

    Thanks again for your awesome insight and feedback!

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