“But None Of My Friends Use That”
If you are in marketing, technology or at all interested in spotting and benefiting from being ahead of trends this is one of the worst thing you can say. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the world we currently live in.
It is your job as a marketer, investor or tech entrepreneur to try out and use new sites, apps and devices before the general public. If you are doing your job correctly, of course none of your friends are there yet. If you start using something because your friends are there, you’ve already failed. You’re late. Early adopters and digital savvy people are the first to explore new things. It excites them. It’s interesting. It’s an opportunity to connect with new people and try out a new way of doing something.
The fact that your friends aren’t there is not a stopping point for the curious and intellectually interested. Those who genuinely have a passion for something are simply interested in connecting and collaborating with like-minded individuals. As well as exploring the benefits of new things for their brand, art or portfolio. Not simply exist in the comfort zone of their existing contacts. It feels safe there but your world is small and unchanging if that’s how you live. Paradoxically, it’s actually much less ‘safe’ because you live in such a way that’s ripe for disruption.
The benefits of being early are huge. I’m an investor and huge fan of Tesla and believe in their mission, products and CEO. A friend of mine had read all the background, seen the news stories, researched their tech, but was reticent to invest. He said to me: “you know, I don’t really see too many of them on the road.” But of course, this shows the detriment of following your personal perspective and ignoring the real-world numbers and trends. Teslas are selling like crazy and they can’t even make them fast enough. If he had invested when we were chatting, he would be up significantly.
For social networks, I joined Twitter in early 2008. A lot of my blogging peers “didn’t get it” and said “oh, I already connect with my friends on x and y platform (one frequently mentioned was Digg!). We saw what happened there. If you were early and built a presence you were way ahead of the middle adopters. If you clung to your equity built in a peaking platform you lost everything. Even though the growth trend was obvious back then, many ignored it because it lacked their friends.
In terms of the web itself, I started building sites and participating in the social web for fun and to build a platform agnostic presence in 1999. None of my “real world” friends were there yet. By the time they were, I was already monetizing sites and building communities. Had I waited for these friends to be there, I’d be way behind now. PS: I put “real world” in quotes because I personally see no delineation between what I do online and what I do in the physical world. It’s a previous generation mindset to think there is some sort of difference. The web is merely a reflection of the world, it’s the same.
I can’t believe I have to write this post in 2013, but I do. Sadly, I continually hear from people in our industry the quip “oh, none of my friends use that,” or, “oh, I’d never do that.” I heard the same thing years ago from people when I said print would be irrelevant. They couldn’t imagine a world without print and consuming content in a pure digital way, but we’ve seen this happen too. It is totally fine for someone not involved in marketing / technology to think this way and cling to the past. But if you care at all about actually winning big in your life and finally getting in early to something, you’ll drop this statement from your vocabulary. It’s okay to be wrong, I’m wrong on plenty. But I’ve made bets and been right too, and many of the bets that panned out were the complete opposite of what other people told me. By the time your friends come around most of the early-mover opportunity is gone.
As my friend Gaston said before: “People being afraid of change? That’s how the world works.” Indeed, that’s why many people fear trying something before their friends use it. The way to win? Be curious, not dismissive. And yes, there are many points you should ignore your personal friends and instead listen to data and your own analysis.
image credit: Shutterstock.com