The End of the Social Media Adoption Road


Two recent studies made me think we’re rapidly approaching the end of the technology adoption curve for social media. Yesterday’s Forrester 2010 Technographics research showed a retraction in the percentage of content creators, critics (people who comment), and collectors (link sharers) in the United States. While there is an increase in joiners, this can be accounted for by the older late adopters who are now coming on to Facebook.

Pew Internet’s social media adoption study last August showed the greatest growth in social media:

  • Half (47%) of internet users ages 50-64
  • One in four (26%) users age 65 and older now use social networking sites

Meanwhile adoption in the 18-49 segments has slowed down significantly.


The Forrester analysis demonstrates that people are settling into natural roles. The decrease in content creation clearly shows a strategic opportunity for organizations that can provide valuable content for their communities. As another Pew study shows, blogging has slowed down with social network adoption even though content creators often serve as voices of authority within these same communities.


From an adoption perspective, we’re likely moving into the laggard stage currently. By year end 2011, social media will not be special, new or unique anymore. In my opinion, online will be just another information source.

Companies, nonprofits and the vendors that serve them will settle into a maturation phase where best practices become the point of competition. While there will always be new social technologies to adapt — such as augmented reality and location based technologies — the principles of two way communications will remain the same. It will come down to who can work with communities in the best fashion.

The above is draft material for my next book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate (the follow up to Now Is Gone, which is almost out of print). Comments may be used in the final edition. You can download the first drafted chapter of the new edition — Welcome to the Fifth Estate — for free.

20 thoughts on “The End of the Social Media Adoption Road

  1. End of mass adoption? Maybe. Beginning of mass usage? Yes.

    When any technology jumps the chasm and becomes more mainstream a lot more interesting things start to happen. So while the past few years have been excited for the innovators and early adopters…hold on because it’s about to go in a lot more directions.

    This also means that a lot of social media usage by nonprofits needs to shift from marketing/awareness to engagement/results. It’s no longer a question of whether you should be using it, but instead what measurable results are you getting from it.

    The same thing happened to online giving and email several years ago.

  2. Facebook killed the social media star–its melting our collective creative brains.:)

    Japan and Australia look to be taking off. Also the creators numbers are too close to call due to margin of error.

  3. I wonder why Forrester hadn’t added “Social Burnout” to the technographics ladder. We’ve been talking about this particular classification for years now. I’ve also seen “curator” somewhere (maybe in a post-Forrester Charlene article somewhere).

  4. I think you’re just fitting the stats to your book chapter – like a good PhD student with an a hypothesis for which the data has to be made to fit. The main thing I see is that the Forrester roles/categories have reached their use-by date and aren’t particularly useful any more.

  5. I have to agree with Steve. Reaching the laggards phase just means that we’ve got most people using the tool – it doesn’t have anything to do with engagement. There might be less content being blasted out because people have, to your point, realized this is just another venue for existing attitudes and content. They’ve calmed to normal levels – but that doesn’t mean their engagement is over.

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  16. Good article! Clearly the line between user assistance and user interface is diminishing. Specialists in either of these fields will need to look at both domains very closely to be efficient.

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