Social media laggards (Why is New Zealand’s reputation as early adopters only partly true?)

The term laggard dates back to the Diffusion of Innovations Theory (1962) of Everett Rogers which explains (and predicts) that certain groups of people will adopt a technology depending on several factors: knowledge, personality, culture, values and accessibility, among others. The laggards were the group of people who were last to adopt a technology.

In the Social Media Adoption Curve, the laggards are the last to adopt social media; some never have. They resist social media at the core of their being; for reasons we will never know, however one thing’s for certain – they hate change. Change unsettles their recognized rules of doing business. Traditionally, the religion of the ‘Big Advertising Idea’ where messages and pitches are delivered to a mass passive audience was the norm. Those days are gone. In the digital era the rules of doing business have changed. Messages are less important and conversations are more important.

It is surprising to note the number of supposedly innovative New Zealand businesses that confirm their status as social media laggards by not engaging with Facebook, Twitter or any other social network. This lack of social presence means that they do not know what their customers real interests are because they are not online to listen and find out. Laggards continue to believe that they have legitimate reasons for not adopting social media despite the success of early adopters in the space. New forms of interacting and connecting with customers are being constantly developed. Experience with the current channels is an important part of the learning curve and an opportunity to take advantage of exploring the fast changing digital landscape.

These businesses that choose the comfort of the Laggard Club will soon be overtaken by their more innovative competitors – the laggard eaters!

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