Social Networking: The “Third Wave” Explained

I’ve been quoting this (a bunch) of late and promised to write a post.  This puts me into dangerous territory .. I am wearing a fireproof suit.

This is as best that I can explain Social Networking technology adoption (purely from observations) at the 200,000-foot level.

The first wave included geeks, techies and an enlightened mouthpiece or three (I’m in the third batch, with smatterings of the first two).

The second wave included the ‘cool kids’: folks who could use ‘it’, base (or extend) their careers on ‘it’ and famous folks (celebrities and celebutards), politicians and social lights with great PR staffs.  Enlightened mouthpieces were here as well, riding the wave and advising.

The third wave (here’s the pain .. for them, and for us) includes:

  • Your mom.
  • Your dad.
  • Your non-technical friends.
  • Your butcher, your baker and your candlestick maker.
  • Your bartender (the guy / gal with the Acer netbook from CostCo).  Keep these kids close: they know the WiFi codes at your watering hole.
  • The rest of your kids (your hipsters adopted in the second wave).
  • Most everyone else.

How did these waves behave?

  • The first wave was paranoid .. but for technical reasons.  These folks wanted to play in the new sandbox, but were careful of what they said, posted, shared, etc.  Without this group, we’d never have worked out the bugs.
  • The second wave was paranoid .. but for PR reasons.  They accepted the system had flaws, and chose to share only what they wanted to appear .. in carefully-worded statements (with the exception of the celebutards, who posted not-so-carefully-worded statements themselves .. PR handlers hate the iPhone).
  • The third wave appears to have no clue.  Pictures of crazy activities (silly hats and drunken poses), posts of “I’m on vacation this week and I love it” (meaning their house .. the address of which they shared somewhere, is unoccupied), “I’m eating a bagel for breakfast”, and the like.

Apply this to Twitter and Facebook (both of whom who reached heights in roughly the same timeframe), but not so much to MySpace .. they reached the second wave early, but did not go as mainstream, for any number of reasons.  Windows Live?  In the game, and with huge worldwide numbers, but not exactly critical mass in cocktail conversation.

What do you think? 

(originally posted 1/13/2010)

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

One Response to Social Networking: The “Third Wave” Explained

  1. Pingback: Why is it ‘share’ rather than ‘post’? « OpsanBlog

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