Working in small groups, students in my Building COM Theory class last week went out and surveyed 10 people each. Although the sampling is unscientific and the data was only collected to set up a class discussion, we found something worth mentioning. The gap between awareness and adoption appears to be much narrower with social media adopters than it is with adopters of other innovations.
Below are two of the students' graphs. One is for HDTV. The other is for YouTube.
In general, the gap between awareness and adoption of HDTV looks to be about 3 or 4 years. You get HDTV in 2008, you probably heard about it in 2004 or so (if not much earlier). But for YouTube, the awareness and adoption curves are almost identical -- you hear about YouTube and you might very well be watching a YouTube video, or even uploading your own clip, that same hour.
The "innovation-decision process" as Rogers called it, moves very fast.
In our follow-up, I suggested that this is because of the nature of the innovation. Accepting an invitation to join a social media group (even one as large as YouTube), often means becoming aware and adopting almost simultaneously. "Trialability" is high. Students came up with some other good explanations:
1. Cost -- YouTube is pretty much free if you have computer access. HDTV is a different story! (Rogers' trialability)
2. Ease -- The investment of time and energy is also minimal. If someone sends you a link on e-mail, all you have to do is click. (compatibility, observability?)
Rogers also said that the innovation-decision process is faster with early adopters. This could well be the case with a sample that consisted mostly of friends of COM majors at UH.