Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated, as all vibrant towns used to be, by the strength of relationship, the currency of caring, and the power of word of mouth.
— Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy

This, you know. Social media gives you the best opportunity to talk to fellow business owners and loyal customers since, well, the last time you strolled down a thriving main street.

Best of all, social media doesn’t mind if you’re in your pajamas.

We also know that social media contributes to tipping points and even revolutions. It connects neighbor to neighbor and grandson to grandma.

Social media has reinvented word of mouth by creating word of type, swipe, and tap.

But before there can be sharing, there has to be something to share. And there has to be people who want to share it.

And this is where Early Adopters come in.

What is an Early Adopter?

They’re the people who wait in line for the latest iDevice. They’re the people try out new software before you’ve even heard of it.

According to The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development:
“Passionate, early users of new technology or products who understand its value before mainstream markets.”

Yes, they’re most often associated with tech.

But they’re also the people who try out the new restaurant in town before the reviews come out. Or the newest microwaveable meal at the grocery store. Or the salon that just opened. Or the doula that just started her practice. Or the artist that hung her first show.

Early Adopters rely on curiosity to fuel their purchasing decisions far more than brand names or customer reviews.

But Early Adopters do more than just buy your stuff.

Early Adopters want to help you and (here is the best bit) want you to be successful.
The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development

Whether your business is 30 days old or 30 years old, you can harness your own Early Adopter community. Your new widget or service may be a hard sell for those who are used to using something else but, harness your Early Adopters, and you’ll be able to make your initial offering much more palatable to the masses.

Game? Here’s how you do it:

Use Early Adopters to make in-progress products better.

Create an email list for people who are specifically interested in a new product. Email them regularly with content tangential to the development of your product. Ask for feedback, opinion, and personal experiences. Create a conversation that informs the development of the product you’re working on.

Use Early Adopters to get feedback on in-use products.

Since Early Adopters are those most likely to “get it,” utilize them to provide the feedback that gaps your designer experience with the user experience of those you’re selling to. Survey the first wave of buyers and seek to understand how they’re using the product and why they wouldn’t live without it anymore. Adjust sales copy, your positioning, and your product/service based on a careful analysis of this feedback.

Use Early Adopters to produce more.

We spend too much time in development and not nearly enough time in testing, deployment, and analysis. Create a first run product that is high in quality but lacking in bells & whistles. Sell these products (or services) to an invite-only list (see point 1) and solicit feedback so that you can create a second run product with the features, bells, & whistles your wider audience actually wants. Then you’ll be creating your next first run product instead of banging your head against your desk wondering why the first product didn’t sell.

Reward Early Adopters for giving you a hand.

Reward? On this budget?! A mention on Twitter, an email conversation, or sending them a preview copy of your next product are all great – and cheap – ways to reward your Early Adopters. Luckily, they don’t require much more than acknowledgment and the very first heads up on what you’ve got coming next.

I know, I’m an Early Adopter.

Start finding your Early Adopters today.

Run a sales report, create a Twitter list, thank them by name on your Facebook page, create your “Sneak Peek” email list… do something that helps you identify these key people in your business.

But first, leave me a response below and tell me what you’re going to do with them!