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Over-Adopting: At What Point Do Early Adopters Become Over Adopters?

If your company is just now creating your Facebook strategy, that's something you probably don't want to share in a room of marketing professionals. If you don't "get" what's so great about Twitter, you should probably keep that to yourself. And if you haven't heard of Instagram, just nod and pretend to be checking an incoming text message when it's mentioned.

If you run in the right circles, it can seem that you're downright throwing in the towel if your business doesn't jump on every new app and website that's mentioned on Mashable. But here's the question: after the dust has settled, are companies that joined Facebook in early 2007 any better off than the companies that joined in 2010? Sure, there are a few obvious examples of businesses that became overnight successes riding the coattails of Facebook or the iPhone; but most of those were themselves start-ups, not established companies.

Furthermore, does the advantage of jumping on a new thing in the first couple years outweigh the potential downside of what I'll call "over-adopting"?

Over-adopting is when you spend so much of your time and energy figuring out and adopting the new things, that you lose focus on the important things.

Just because something is new doesn't necessarily mean that it's important. We all know of social networks that were going to change the online landscape that have since failed completely or become shadows of their promised glory: Myspace, Gowalla, Apple's Ping, Microsoft's Zune Social, Google Wave and Yahoo! Buzz are a few obvious ones. There's some big names on that list, but in hindsight, it clearly would have been a poor investment to have put any significant time and resources into these failed and/or failing web properties.

In my opinion, for a typical business, it's usually better to take a more measured approach when adopting new social and digital channels. Take some time to see which properties actually take off with sustained growth and user activity before making it a business priority.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't educate yourself personally about these things. As marketers, it's important to have at least a passing knowledge of what's going on in this space. You can either do that personally, or use a company like (shameless plug) Villing & Company, to help you separate what's important from what's simply new.

Filed Under: social media

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