Integrating social media into small business: Diffusion of Innovation Theory can help

No Grandma

Guest Post by:  Rowena Nichols

Have you ever felt like the person on the other end of the phone, not understanding the technology of today? I know I sure have. Maybe you feel more like the little guy trying to tell Grandma how to get connected to the internet. If so you’re probably younger than me!

If you’re from Generation Y (aka Gen Y) technology probably comes second nature to you. Social Media even easier right? Which is why, in the article “Bringing Social Media to Small Business: A Role for Employees and Students in Technology Diffusion” (Bakeman, M.M. and Hanson, L.), the authors promote the idea that today’s small business owner could get ahead by hiring young, social media “savvy” employees.

Based on the “Diffusion of Innovation” theory (Rogers, E.M.), which assesses the rate that new technology or social ideas spread through society, Bakeman and Hanson suggest that for small businesses to increase their social media marketing edge, as well as being competitive with corporate companies and their big IT budgets, they should be looking to recruit recent college graduates. Social Media is part of life for these “up and comers” and tapping into this ingrained knowledge of social media platforms has proven benefits. Post-secondary programs are starting to integrate courses on the use of Social Media in business into their programs.





The Diffusion of Innovation theory has the following five categories of adopters:


Gen Y has grown up using Social Media and this kind of ingrained expertise shouldn’t be frowned upon but rather embraced and utilized. Today’s business requires a social media presence and is increasingly becoming a key to business success.

For more online sources of information on this topic here are some helpful links:

Robinson, L. (2009) A Summary of Diffusion of Innovations, Enabling Change.

Boston University School of Public Health (2013). Diffusion of Innovation theory.

Orr, G. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers (1995)

Nichols, R. (2014) Diffusion of Innovation & Small Business [videorecording]

Shivers, G. D. (2010). First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy. [videorecording]

Keyword tags: #diffusion, #socialmedia, #Analytics, #Marketing, #innovation

Comments appreciated: @rowena_nichols [Twitter]