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Stop Hating On Late Adopters



One of my roles over the last 5 years has been to help train internal teams on social media.  I used to get frustrated with people that didn’t “get it” or questioned the relevance of The Social.

Heck I used to get down right furious (I of course never loose my cool anymore). But I find it ironic/entertaining now that many recent converts find themselves in the same boat, filled with frustration.

I’d like to share the nugget of wisdom that has kept me sane all these years: We need late adopters.

If everyone was early adopters NOTHING WOULD GET DONE!!

We’d have thousands of bridges that never got finished. All roads would eventually run nowhere and dead end in a field somewhere. We probably never would have invented automobiles but instead jumped to rocket powered horses.(That’d be bad. Trust me.)

I am obviously exaggerating. But I hope you get my point.

Early adopters may invent amazing new ways to do things but late adopters make sure those things get built in the first place and continue to run when we’ve got bored and moved on to the next shiny object.

Why do marketing early adopters have so much angst with marketing’s late adopters? They control the budgets.And that’s the way it should be.

Never put an early adopted in charge of the budgets. Give them budget but don’t give them free reign. If you do, you’ll be out of business very quickly but you’ll have lots of shiny toys. Assuming they didn’t take them all apart.

So have patience. I know they can be grumpy and they sometimes talk trash. But let’s get real, so do you.

They’ll all get there but first we have to do our part to develop the processes and train them. (Don’t worry, we won’t have to follow the processes ourselves. We’ll be on to something else by then.)

Photo by Thomas Hawk

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://twitter.com/AbeYo Abe Saeed

    Great insight…just wondering what us in-between adopters are good for.

  • foleymo

    You're so right! I need to work on holding back my anger and frustration, especially witht my former newspaper colleauges.

    One question for you, how would you differentiate a “late adopter” from a “naysaying Luddite”?

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Translating what the early adopters are saying to the late adopters :)

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    If you're trying to convince them about how useful the Web is… then they're a Luddite.

  • http://www.superiorpromos.com/ Promotional Products

    These are some great points here. Late adopters to finish off the cycle and they are necessary. I've also found through my sales results and research is that sometimes the late adopters are my best customers and spend the most money with me. So in my opinion, late adopters definitely serve a purpose.

  • Rick Smith

    Hey Tac. All very good points.

    Thinking on this from another perspective, a consumer, many of us who have been in marketing functions for quite a number of years have come to use terms (like newbie) to describe people… somewhat derisively… who are just new to the platform.

    Bezos created a bookstore for the Early Adopter. He created a superstore for the Late Adopter. Early Adopters can be broken into two general camps: purists and capitalists.

    Purists see those people who are newer than they are to the game as those people who are polluting their playground. “There goes the neighborhood!” is their attitude.

    Capitalists look at these people and say “this is my marketplace.” In the end, these are the people who take the platforms and innovate off the top of them.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/are-you-a-leader-or-lunch/ Are You a Leader or Lunch? | New Comm Biz

    [...] much like we need to stop hating late adopters and stop worrying about critics, we also need to understand and accept our own [...]

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