When do social media adoption rates matter?

January 20, 2009

Posted in Marketing.

I’ve been trying to find usage and adoption rates of different technologies, especially in certain demographcs:

  • Do high school students use Twitter?
  • How many college students use feed readers?
  • Do faculty members have Facebook profiles?

I’ve seen surveys and research done on organizations that use social media. Brad Ward posted this today, just in time for my post: College Admission Offices lead the way with social media!.

But what about the users? Are we tweeting into the void?

I interviewed a student yesterday who is interested in working for my office as a developer. A web developer, mind you. He knows about Twitter but dismisses it as hype. He loves StumbleUpon. He spends some time on Facebook, but he doesn’t use a feed reader.

In other words, he’s not like us web workers. He doesn’t live online.

After months of discussion and fretting about some of our audience pages on ND.edu, I asked the student for some off-the-cuff feedback on our Current Students page. He didn’t realize there even is a current students page. Traffic backs up his assessment – he didn’t know about it and doesn’t need it. He’ll probably never go back.

Why be an early adopter?

Is it worth it to have invested early? Organizations who adopt a technology early can make a much larger splash with it, gaining credibility in a space that can quickly become overrun with commercial entities and squatters. Looking back, I wish I’d grabbed a dozen or so Twitter usernames to prevent others from doing so…even though we weren’t ready to do anything with them.

The downside, of course, is that you may be shouting into the wilderness and hoping someone will hear you. Or, as I suspect happens too often, you’ll get your message to others like you, and NOT your intended audience.