Last night, Douglas MacMillan posted an article about elitist social networks that require credentials in order to join. Douglas used a number of examples including Reuters new network of individuals involved in the finance industry. In order to join the network, your information must cross check with Reuters’ large database which will verify your employment status.
The model of exclusivity has been highly effective for many social networks including the highly successful A Small World. A Small World has become known for its exclusive group of people including worldwide jetsetters that swap planes with each other or go party at each other’s island vacation houses. If you ever obtain membership to the social network, you must befriend at least 7 other people on the site before you can send out an invitation to others.
I honestly have never seen a company’s decision to make their site to invite only backfire. While we all like to publicly dismiss our desire to become members of these closed networks, at heart there is always some part of us that wants to be part of the group. It’s human nature. So if you are trying to come up with a strategy for your social network, consider the invite only model. The invite only model is not limited to social networks either. Products such as Gmail and Joost have used this model successfully and have experienced tremendous growth.
Has the invite only model worked for any of you?