As I was glancing through my Reader last week, I caught an interesting post from my friend Geoff Livingston that posited we’re rapidly approaching the end of the technology adoption curve for social media.”

Image: ram reddy via Flickr, CC 2.0

I thought about this.

And thought some more.

And thought even more.

A few nights ago

I was at a dinner party with a dear friend I haven’t seen in three years or so (give or take a few months).

The ensemble included some Very Smart People who work for organizations like the World Bank and USAID, as well as Even More Smart People Who Have Been To Cambridge and are now U.S. government contractors.

They couldn’t give two hoots, let alone three, about social media.

Facebook?

“Too many privacy issues.”

“I don’t post my kids’ pictures on there.”

“It was great when we had our [high school] reunion, we were immediately in [20+ years ago].

Twitter?

“So once you apply for Twitter…”

Foursquare?

Fuhgeddaboudit.

Picture me

sitting there, sweet smile (I can smile sweetly, you know) plastered on my face, legs crossed tighter than the Queen, so much so that my undies were in danger of rupturing me a new one.

Image: kris krüg via Flickr, CC 2.0

As the conversation moved to and from social media, the current state of racism in various African nations, the mind-boggling ineptitude of the Indian government, a little voice inside of me kept saying,

“Wow. WOW. They really don’t care about SM.”

This is not to denigrate my friends at all.

As I’ve already said, they are Very Smart People.

Much smarter than I am.

But when we hear of social media adoption rates, how social media will kill PR, and how social campaigns herald the future, we need to stop.

And think.

And realize.

That as much as you and I, who are caught up in the maelstrom of social media, might like to think everyone “gets it,” everyone does not.

So for all the studies and reports that tell us we are past the social media “adoption curve,” I give you…

My friends.

Statistically, probably irrelevant, but anecdotally, extremely so.

These are the people, at the executive level, whom you and I are trying to reach.

These are the people you and I want as clients.

These are the people controlling significant budget dollars that they can put towards social media – if they “get” it – or towards traditional advertising and one-way media relations.

While these people might not be in the 21% of Americans who don’t use the Internet (because they do, for email and catching up with friends on Facebook), they do not see the value of social media and networks as it pertains to the achievement of their business objectives, or what I like to call WIIFM.

So, while social media might have finally escaped the fad phase (and you’ll want to read Dr. Grunig’s paper on this, particularly since it pertains to the practice of public relations in the digital age), I don’t think we’re quite over the adoption phase yet.

What say you?

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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