Knowing your early adopters

I am reading Click by Bill Tancer at the moment, a book in which Bill looks at internet surfing and search patterns to derive conclusions about society.  It has some interesting gems, but in general it hasn’t stimulated me as much as I had hoped, or at least hadn’t until this morning when I reached the penultimate chapter Finding the Early Adopters.

There are two interesting things here.

Firstly, using Hitwise tools Tancer analyses the sources of traffic to YouTube through it’s early growth period.  There were three phases:

  1. Social network driven traffic – in October 2005 52% of YouTube’s traffic came from social networks.  Word about the still newish site was spreading through online communities of high school and college students.  The real early adopters of online video.
  2. Email driven traffic – within one month the 52% from social networks dropped to 30% and traffic from web based email shot up to 17%.  Traffic was now being driven by people using the ’email a link for this video to a friend’ feature after they had viewed something they liked.
  3. Search driven traffic – by January 2008 people searching for specific video clips that they had heard about was becoming an important traffic driver (Tancer doesn’t provide any percentage data for this)

This analysis shows the benefit of tight focus in the early period of a site and then providing the tools which allow growth to spread out from there.

Secondly Tancer uses segmentation data from a company called Claritas to profile early adopters of social media sites generally according to income, age, purchasing habits and so on.

He identifies three groups:

  1. “The Bohemian Mix”, they comprise 2m households in the US, are urban dwellers, read the New York Times, shop at Bloomingdale’s, work in the arts, and drive mini-coopers.
  2. “Money and Brains” – were wealthier and more into sports than arts
  3. “Yound Digerati” – were the most affluent of all and the most tech savvy

I have missed out a lot of detail on these segments for the sake of brevity, but the point here is that this anlysis can provide vital input data for site design and marketing activities at different stages in a site’s evolution.

Looking at which sites these groups are shifting towards also gives an early insite into what might be the next big thing.

It is just a shame that this data doesn’t come cheap.

  • Hi Nic, thanks for the food for thought. It’s an area I’ve been thinking about lately, particularly the role of trust within early adopters and as the key to influence. Looking forward to your future posts.

  • Hi Nic, thanks for the food for thought. It’s an area I’ve been thinking about lately, particularly the role of trust within early adopters and as the key to influence. Looking forward to your future posts.

  • I was tempted to buy that book about three weeks ago, but never did. When you finish please let me know if it was worth it.

  • Hi Nic, very interesting. I would bet that the majority of first wave social network traffic was driven by MySpace – before they introduced MySpace video they allowed users to embed YouTube videos in their pages (they built MySpace video because YouTube had been so successful on their site). I think this shows how key the right partnerships can be for early stage startups.

  • Hi Nic, very interesting. I would bet that the majority of first wave social network traffic was driven by MySpace – before they introduced MySpace video they allowed users to embed YouTube videos in their pages (they built MySpace video because YouTube had been so successful on their site). I think this shows how key the right partnerships can be for early stage startups.