There’s something about the hard-to-get that drives people crazy. It’s probably the fact that everything is so freely available these days in the so-called information economy.
Google has been utilizing “by invite only” for over a decade. I remember the first classmate I knew who had a Gmail account. At that time, I’d never heard of Gmail – I was on Hotmail which was freely accessible to everyone. In order to get my Gmail account, I had to apply. They did it again with Google+, where you could only join if invited by a current member.
So why all the red tape? There are two reasons that this method of releasing something is so effective. The first is the most obvious: people want what they can’t have. Excitement and buzz build when you’re forced to wait.
The second reason is a little vague but just as important. By relying on an ‘invitation’ to a product or service, the company is creating a community who in all likeliness already knows each other and interact with each other. When people can share with other people they know, they are more likely to use the service.
Personally, only a few of my close friends and family members have access to FaceTime, so I very rarely use the service although I own an assortment of Apple products. Instead, I rely on Skype for most of my video calling because when I joined Skype, I already knew many people on it.
I’m currently on a waiting list for Pinterest and just sent out a request on all of my social networks for an invite. Why? Because I can’t stand to wait. And in doing so, I’ve advertised the existence of the social network to hundreds of people who may not have heard of it yet.
Exclusive. Invite only. Secret. Private. Waiting list.
Just because these are the days when you can get so much for free doesn’t mean you have to give it away freely.