“It seems like there’s a new social network startup every day.” He was right, and the question he was about to pose was nothing new; it was a question echoed by inquiring minds all the time.
“What makes a startup successful (or not)? More importantly, how do we freakin’ keep up with all of (the networks/apps1) and join early enough to be cool?”
His question was asked in relation to Instagram and who could blame him? Photo-sharing app + networks are a dime a dozen with new ones popping up daily, each one claiming to be the new (and improved) Instagram. It’s worth noting, however, that this question applies broadly to any type of quick moving industry. After mulling the question over, I think I’ve devised an answer2 that should help shed some light on this topic.
Step 1: Figure out where you fall on the diffusion of innovation bell curve.
It’s important to be brutally honest when determining where one falls on this chart. Try to separate any/all connotations you may have attached to the labels and just figure out when you’re most comfortable adopting technology. The more accurate you are the more you’ll enjoy your app adoption pace. I tend to fall towards the lower end of the Early Majority segment.
Step 2: Break your digital world into categories.
For the purpose of this piece, I’ll focus on apps. Your world of apps needs to be organized so it’s easier to see what fits and what doesn’t. Don’t use vague categories like ‘Utilities,’ use specific categories like ‘Photo Editing.’
Step 3: Figure out which apps works best for certain, specific tasks.
I use email constantly so I’ve adopted Mailbox as my email app. For daily calculations, Apple’s native calculator app does the trick just fine.
When it comes to social networking, the concept is similar. First you must establish a healthy ratio of time spent on vs. off social networks. In my daily routine I’ve found that I have 5 spots for social networks:
-Primary Social Network: This is the app I open, check, look at, and post to the most.
-Secondary Social Network: This is the app that compliments my primary network.
-Tertiary Social Network: This app is used sometimes, but not very often. Normally I only check this one when it notifies me someone is interacting with me.
-Quaternary Social Network: This network is more of a hobby, and is checked infrequently.
-Rotating 5th Social Network: This is really a space, a slot that I use to test out new networks + apps.
Let’s run a scenario to help make this more clear. Twitter is currently my Secondary Social Network. I’ve found that Tweetbot is the best Twitter client for my purposes. Now let’s suppose a new Twitter client called “Tweet-tastic” comes along, and it’s getting a lot of press. I would install said app and put it in my 2nd spot and use it in lieu of Tweetbot to see if it held up under my rigorous daily routine. If It turns out to be better, I’d replace Tweetbot with it. If not, I’d get rid of it. Same goes for new startups. If a new social network crops up, let’s call it 24/7STATUSUPDATES, I’d put that app in the 5th spot to see if that particular network was worth investing time + energy into, and whether it should replace one of the top 4 networks. If so, in it goes. If not, it gets deleted.
Questions you might have.
How long do I give an app? Usually a week or so. That’s enough time, in my world, to figure out whether it’s going to fit into my life.
How frequently do I try new apps? This directly relates to Step 1. If you’re an Early Adopter, you’ll constantly be trying new apps; that’s what being an early adopter is. The farther along the bell curve you fall, the slower you’ll switch out and try new apps.
How do I decide what goes in the 5th slot? I read a lot of tech blogs so good press can get an app into that 5th slot. If you world isn’t peppered with lots of tech news , make friends with a techie who stays up on that kind of thing and ask him or her to recommend apps to you. Trust me, techies are happy to share.
Remember: only replace an existing app (or your free time) with a new app if you’re very sure it’s something you want to spend time, effort and energy on. Free time is valuable, don’t waste it with frivolous apps.
1Don’t let the term ‘network’ throw you off, it is often synonymous with ‘app.’ An app can contain a social network (e.g. Instagram) but a network isn’t necessarily equivalent to it’s app (e.g. I use an app to access Twitter but that app isn’t ALL of Twitter, it’s just a portal).
2It’s more of a workflow for the mind.