Earlier this year, some aliens visited earth. They came to do some research and enjoy a Starbucks – but unfortunately for them, they left this research behind at the table they were sitting at and I happened to pick it up. Lucky me.

I had a good read and discovered that they were researching social media. They mistakenly called us humans Digi’s, and accordingly they observed 4 different social media users:

Firstly, the Digitalls. I am, and some of you are, in the Digitall tribe. We use technology for everything. We use multiple social media sites, experiment continually, have lifestreams, and are on FriendFeed. Trouble is, most of the Digitalls – who are early adopters of technology – are trying to imitate the elite group of innovators. They copy their blogging habits, produce more and more content for other early adopters, and create plenty of noise. Thus, the gap between early adopters and the early majority is increasing in size because it is getting harder and harder for the average Digi (the ones with the money) to understand what the Digitalls are talking about.

Watch this video, made by the Aliens, which interviews the Digi on the street. I don’t just like it because the interviewer is called Scott, honest.

Cue the Digicool. They are some of these people. They don’t know what a ‘browser’ is and they don’t care – but they do know that Google is not synomous with Internet Explorer. They have Facebook. And they have it because it’s cool. My wife has an iPhone, because it’s cool. They might have a Twitter account, and probably only make use of it if they can link it to their Facebook status – why? – because it’s cool.

Digicools are an a giant untapped resource. As the early majority, they appear smart to most people (largely, to parents), but appear slow and sluggish to the Digitalls. They would use services like Flickr for their personal photos if they knew about it – but, they don’t. Everyone is up in arms because a 15 year old Digi researched 200 friends and discovered that teens don’t user Twitter. But the reality is there is a huge gap between the Digitall and the Digicools, and only the daring few are stepping beyond Facebook or Bebo into these new waters.

The iPhone app Shazaam is a great Digicool product. As a party piece, my wife loves to use it. But unfortunately for Shazaam, she’s never bought anything through it, because once it’s told her the track, it’s no longer cool. She hasn’t parted with any money for a digital service. And Digicools seldom do.

The Gap Widens

In the late adopters crowd we have the Digitools. My father-in-law is a Digitool who uses Skype purely for the utility of speaking to his daughter in Australia. When he isn’t calling his daughter on VOIP, Skype is switched off. It’s a tool for a job. My mother-in-law uses Facebook to keep in touch with friends. If she isn’t thinking of that friend in Canada though, weeks go by without her status changing.

Digitools aren’t bound to generation. One of my brothers, a 23 year old in Australia, will also use Skype and Facebook when he needs to communicate, but no more. And this it he hallmark of the Digitools – need to. The aliens did observe that this need does change according to what the Digitalls did five years ago and the Digicool did two years ago – so it’s not absolute need. But the strange thing is there are few from the Digitalls who try to empower this majority – they are content to rather ramble with other Digitalls than engage with these slow, but faithful late adopters.

This group is confused over what a browser, Google, the internet and search is. The mixing of an address bar and  a search bar also confuses them, and accordingly, they are subject to phishing from time to time.

Finally, it is the Diginots – not the ‘Digifools’, through it rhymed – who hear about everything all the other Digi’s are doing, and decidedly don’t understand it. They are not social media users, in the modern sense. A computer,  Microsoft Word and the internet are all the same thing in their mind. And every time they sit down at a PC, it is the computer that does something wrong; not the user.

They peaked at DVD, and occasionally, with assistance, can navigate the website of their favourite sports team. But when finished, they call their teenager child technical advisor to close everything down for them.

In Conclusion

So that’s the report I found. I hope it’s been enlightening for you as it has been for me. The one thing I am convinced of, though, is I must start looking more at the Digicools and their market share, than pandering to the fickle nature of the Digitalls. Because if I start talking to them, I have plenty of opportunity to be the one who bridges the gap – because few others are.