The Logical Philosopher

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Social Neworking: Digg and Blogger Beta Users Are Still Early Adopters

Social Networkers Beware: Anecdotal proof that Diggers and Beta Bloggers are still the geeky Innovators and Early Adopters that we think we aren't.

If you Digg, Reddit, Furl, Delicious, Blog, or generally do more online social networking than offline, you probably think everyone else does it. You are vaguely aware of people that don't know what Social Networking is, and wonder where those people have been living. It's mainstream, you think. However we really are still in the Early Adopter phase of the internet's social networking boom.

Microsoft claims they own over 80% of the global browser market share - but that takes into account the market as a whole. This view is skewed because when you dig deeper you find all technology marketing managers actually split the market up using Diffusion of Innovation Theory. This split is seen as five technology adopter categories - innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. If you look at each market individually, the claimed 80% market share is probably split very differently; my guess the IE market share being weighted greater than 90% for the Early/Late Majority, and less than 40% to the Innovators/Early Adopters.

I recently deviated from my usual posts and went technical, posting a piece entitled Getting Haloscan to work in Beta Blogger. After switching to Beta Blogger and spending many hours of struggling with this specific technology issue before getting it working, I thought it would be nice to give back to others. Almost immediately my web hit counter went up by about 200, most of them directly going to this post either from a search engine (mainly Google), digg link or another blogger referral. Considering the combination of Blogger Beta and Haloscan users is probably not that large, I found it interesting that over the next 2 weeks I had at least two thousand more hits on this single post. What I found even more interesting was about the browser usage, which I pulled from my Google Analytics account:

  • 64% Firefox
  • 27% Explorer
  • 9% Other (Netscape, Opera, etc.)
Ironically this also lined up remarkably well with AUInteractive's recent post 64% of You Use Firefox. Regardless of where they came from - Digg, external blogger link or a search engine, the numbers still were overwhelming leaning towards Firefox.
Doesn't this data fly in the face of Microsoft's claim of dominat market share? Firefox even agrees they only have a small portion, 10-15%. If so, why?
Look at Firefox's initial market when the launched their first browser: they started by luring the Innovators and Early Adopters away from IE. Are they still doing that? If not explicitly I would suggest they are at least building on their base of Innovators/Early Adopters. Now considering my Google Analytics results I would think there probably is some statistical correlation between browser usage and Digg/Blogger users. This means that there is also a correlation between Digg/Blogger users and the adopter categories of Innovators & Early Adopters.

While the connection is loose, it still gives some general observations:

  • If you are reading this with Firefox you probably are a geek: Social Networking is still in it's infancy. Innovators and Early Adopters still rule, and they rule loudly with Firefox. (Remember, being a geek isn't a bad thing - look how Bill Gates turned out, even if he doesn't use Firefox)
  • Marketing folks take note: Blog & market your technology accordingly! Even this informal data helps define the target market for Diggers, Reddit and Blogger Beta folks.
  • Internet CEO's beware: There is an upcoming "chasm" Social Networking companies need to worry about.

What can we do with these observations? I've been thinking about starting some focused social networking sites, but always had the feeling that the market was getting too crowded. The Paradigm Shift posted a blog last week entitled 300+ social network startups in less than 2 years. Historically, technology companies have had a difficult time "Crossing the Chasm" from wooing customers in the Early Adopters market to getting new ones in the Early Majority market.

Just for the record, I use Blogger Beta, post items, Digg things, all while surfing with Firefox. I am also an Early Adopter.

Current and future CEO's of the Social Networking sites need to take note - there is probably a virtual Chasm for your technology as well and only time will tell how many of those 300+ will actually make the leap. As for me it will mean more market research and technology development before you see the launch of my next site.

Now if you use Firefox, prove me right and go digg me.