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Adoption rate model for Social Networks


A possible solution could come from the “Hype Cycle”, a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies. This term was coined by Gartner and has been used to represents the enthusiasm or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that normally happens when new technologies are introduced:

Gartner hype curve

Because of this characteristics the hype curve could be used to describe the assimilation of technological gadgets more than social networks. This is a fair comment if you think to the “bonanza” that experienced by the tablet’s market, for instance. This curve seems to be very useful to represents these types of trends. The question is: would it be better to apply this for a generic technology (social media overall ) instead of focusing on the representation of single social media?

Another criticisms could be linked to the apparent “optimisms” of the curve. By the looks of it, it seems that, no matter how bad the product was designed, it sets always an happy ending for the technological phenomenon described through it. Maybe we are missing at this point some consideration?


Nevertheless there are a couple of good things that could be said about the usage of this graph. The simplest application of the hype curve would be to place all of them over a single curve, respecting the evaluation of maturity of each SN represented :

Hype curve all SN

However a more complex and interesting model would be a comparative one. Ideally the representation would have multiple curves, each of which represents an SN in isolation. Therefore, for instance, Facebook and MySpace are both located on the “Plateau of Productivity” with a more or less pronounced trend towards growing or declining, but with the difference of “few” hundreds of millions of users:

Facebook vs MySpace

Another comparative example like Facebook vs LinkedIn, would see the first always at a level of “Plateau of Productivity”, and the second in my opinion at a level of “Slope of Enlightenment“.

Here we would see differences not only on the vertical axis (numbers of adopters of that SN), but also on the graph itself since the latest statistics show that LinkedIn has good growth prospects before they even reach a Plateau of Productivity:

Facebbol vs LinkedIn


So far we have tried to expose quantitative evaluations for each SN based on a presumed adoption rate. We have seen how this adoption rate could be “fallacious” and hard to get since absolute figures have to take into account multiple factors. We have mentioned that a more realistic representations could look at the product and how this performs through the time since this results could have a potential impact on the final adoption.

Finally I would like to mention the last model I had in mind since I first read the interesting article of Vincenzo. This models goes back to what I mentioned above about the necessity of considering this analysis from the product prospective, taking into account though the technological market whit its development life-cycles:

Product cycle curve

Here the decline is more related to the assumption that, over time, the technological assets of the platform loose its economical value (vertical axis of the chart). Of course, this doesn’t necessarily drives to a decline in the adoption of the medium. But what matters here is, in my opinion,  the product development (Innovation) followed by the subsequent increase of economical value (Growth).

If we now take this model and report it in terms of adoption rate a question arise: following the acquisition of Skype and the incoming advent of video-conferencing within facebook (the innovation), are we going to witness an increase in adoption rate by facebook users (growth) ?


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