Everett Rogers pub­lished the “Dif­fu­sion of Inno­va­tions” in 1962, which accord­ing to Wikipedia, is “a the­ory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and tech­nol­ogy spread through cul­tures.” In layman’s terms, it’s this clas­sic graph that they show you on the first day of busi­ness school:

  1 Source: Wikipedia

The most inter­est­ing aspect of Face­book is that depend­ing on how old you were between Feb­ru­ary 2004 and Sep­tem­ber 2006, as well as whether or not you had a .edu email address, there were restric­tions on where one fell in the above graph. It wasn’t until Sep­tem­ber 2006 that any­one over the age of 13 with an email address could join. By that time you prob­a­bly heard about Face­book from a friend, or a friend of a friend.

A friend of a friend is now an impor­tant met­ric on Face­book. It’s called Friends of Con­nec­tions (FOC) and refers to the friends of users who like your page/brand. The Face­book reps I work with (who are fab­u­lous, by the way) inform me that the FOCs are one of the most impor­tant seg­ments you can tar­get since peo­ple are highly influ­enced by their friends and networks.

This orig­i­nal study has been advanced to the realm of retail and buy­ing pat­terns, where it’s become proven that the early and late major­ity are your poten­tial cus­tomers, those most likely to buy the prod­uct. So what I wanted to look into were how many friends these early– and late-majority Face­book users have ver­sus early adopters. I didn’t include inno­va­tors, since I only have two or three friends from Har­vard on Face­book, or lag­gards because the lag­gards I know (hi, Dad!), still aren’t mem­bers of Facebook.

Here’s what I found by tak­ing a ran­dom sam­ple of 10 friends from each category:

2

Accord­ing to the the­ory, the groups in blue (above) are your poten­tial cus­tomers. The inter­est­ing find­ing is that if I look at the aver­age num­ber of friends in each of these cat­e­gories, there is a def­i­nite trend that devel­ops in the late major­ity based on age.

So is this good news? Yes. Focus­ing on the late major­ity group, I broke this up into the three age ranges listed above. What’s unique about the late major­ity (over 40) is that their friends on Face­book are actu­ally their friends in real life, which brings more legit­i­macy to the power of sug­ges­tion. What’s unique about the late major­ity (under 20) is that they have a huge quan­tity of friends to adver­tise to, and since late major­ity users gen­er­ally move in a pack men­tal­ity (eg, they only buy when some­one in their cir­cle does does), this is great news for adver­tis­ers. Also worth not­ing is that a good por­tion of the late major­ity (under 20) users haven’t even been to col­lege yet, where their friends on Face­book will grow expo­nen­tially. Add these fac­tors together, and the late major­ity user on Face­book looks like a promis­ing tar­get audience.

 

Karen Maci­olek

Senior Account Manager

Mas­ter Social Media Strategizer

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