Early adopters. In the digital age, they're people like you and me-folks who are among the first to see the possibilities of the "next best thing." We sign up for the latest services, test cutting-edge approaches, and try newfangled electronic devices. If we like what we see, we often become unofficial evangelists, helping to spread the gospel of the "next best thing."
Brand managers love us, especially when we are saying good things about their shiny new devices or content platforms. But our willingness to proselytize our latest discovery does not equate to its mainstream success. In fact, we're wrong most of the time.
Regardless of our batting average in the prognostication department, we are a necessary ingredient in any recipe for success.
"Early adopters don't always do a good job of predicting the future," says author and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki. "However, it's very unusual for something to reach general adoption that early adopter types rejected. So, if you're rejected by the early adopters, you're probably going to fail. If you are accepted, you might succeed. But, there are no guarantees."
Kawasaki ought to know. He evangelized for the adoption of the Apple Macintosh early on. In his 1995 book, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy: Creating Disruption for Fun and Profit, Kawasaki laid out the reasons he thought the Mac would succeed and explained how other brands could do the same. Despite the naysayers, he was right about Apple. It took some time-several decades, actually-for his belief to become reality. A game-changing product of superior design and a group of ardent supporters (early adopters with a zealous enthusiasm for everything Apple) have helped turn the once small startup into the world's largest company.
Kawasaki now has his sights on a new game changer. A product he says parallels the Macintosh, is better than the products made by the competition, and is a favorite of many early adopters. A product he believes is changing the way humans interact with one another, find information, and share knowledge with others. That product is Google+.
Shocking? Perhaps, but not all that surprising once you understand his reasoning. Kawasaki says it's clear to him that Google+ is much more than an alternative to Facebook and Twitter. Google+ differentiates itself from the rest of the pack, Kawasaki says, because it understands the web and how people use it.
According to Kawasaki, the killer Google+ feature is Hangouts On Air, which allows members to broadcast live public events online. Google+ automatically records those sessions and instantly uploads them for you to your Google+ feed and your YouTube channel.
Once you stop and think about it, the possibilities are clear.
With Google+ you can find people who share similar interests. Curate and share relevant content shared by others. Build an audience of loyal followers. Engage them. Organize them into groups Google+ calls "circles." Use your network and Google+ Events (invitations, social interaction, mobile app integration) to promote your broadcast. Then, launch it live, worldwide, from the comfort of your home, office, or wherever you may be. Add Google Drive to the mix and you can share Google Docs with your audience or conduct polls and surveys. Analyze and share that content with your audience. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
"It's a game-changer," says Kawasaki, who is also the author of the recently released book What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us. "Google+ makes it easy to reach millions of people at once, leveling the playing field in a way no other technology has been able to do," Kawasaki adds.
As an early adopter myself, as well as a self-identified Facebook and Twitter addict, I'll have to admit the lure of Google+ is strong. I no longer think of it as an alternative to the other social platforms I enjoy (and am accustomed to) using. Rather, I see Google+ as a broadcast platform that provides tremendous possibilities for extending my brand and reaching audiences that matter to me.
What do you see? I'd like to know your thoughts. Drop me an email or, better yet, join me on Google+. I'll be the new guy hanging out, looking around, and just getting settled in.