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:

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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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