Waving goodbye and Crossing the Chasm
The news that Google is canning its Wave product has the online world in a bit of a tizzy. In my opinion it suffered as people weren’t really sure what it did (email? Instant messaging? Document collaboration? All of the above?) and it was launched by invitation – hardly the way of building a mass audience quickly
So, if the likes of Google can’t convince us to use new tools, have we reached the end of the road for social media innovation?
I think not, but as social media moves more mainstream new services need to convince people (not just early adopters) to invest time and effort in trying something new.
Let’s go back to marketing science. Social media has crossed Geoffrey Moore’s famous chasm, so to gain interest new services have to appeal to the early majority, rather than just visionaries and early adopters. It doesn’t matter that social media tools tend to be free – what costs (and puts people off) is the amount of time they need to invest in learning them and the potential payback.
The early majority aren’t interested in tech for tech’s sake, they want something that will solve a problem or replace a tried and tested solution. And it has to be easy to use and not take up too much of their time to set-up. Wave failed on pretty much all of these points, meaning it was always destined to be a niche. So rather than a launch Google would have done better to define what it did, build a community of early adopters and then go mainstream.