Archive for December, 2008

Social Media Exclusivity: Are you In or Out?

Are you in the ‘in’ crowd or the ‘everybody’s in’ crowd?

Smart marketers understand that we want what we can’t have. They use the allure of exclusivity to build their brands — at times, creating limits just so they can surpass them. It’s the simple economics of supply and demand that when executed well, can make companies thrive.

But does this work for social media?

Social media communities are structured into two main types: Open and Closed.

Open Communities ( think MySpace), invite everyone to join. By breaking down doors (or eliminating them entirely) this method creates an ease of access that encourages fast growth. The success of MySpace and other free online tools (think: hotmail, yahoo groups) can be, at least in part, attributed to the fact that signing up is quick, easy, and open to all.

Closed Communities (think early Facebook), are based on idea of extreme exclusivity. They use the allure of being a part of something private, to make the community more enticing and build membership.

The overwhelming success of Facebook, clearly shows that Closed Communities do work — at least when executed well.  Even though exclusive sites like Facebook must turn away interested members/customers in order to maintain privacy, and even though those not allowed join may create negative feedback and be reluctant to join should the doors open to everyone down the road…

Interests: “Didn’t I already do this on MySpace?”
–A profile quote from a Facebook latecomer and former MySpace user.

…easily accessibly sites like MySpace open the door for fake profiles, unwanted connections, and spam messaging. These privacy issues make some hesitant to join or unhappy once they have and even more likely to leave in the long run.

And when it comes down to it, privacy and security are deal breaker issues for many people.

And it’s the ability of exclusive communities to better control information of their memebers that contributes to their long term success. Facebook may have taken longer to gain momentum but as of April, 2008, according to TechCrunch they finally caught up to MySpace in unique visitors.

facebookmyspaceap081

But here’s the kicker: Facebook took the crown only after they opend their doors to the public. What this shows us is that, both methods may need to be tapped into to ensure long term success. (Does long term success exist in Social Media???) By basing their community around the idea of exclusivity and (essentially) privacy, they were able to maintain control of the community as it grew. And once they platform was established, they opened the doors to the world and in doing so, came the closest to living on both sides of the tracks as a social media platform could do.

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December 4, 2008 at 4:38 pm 2 comments


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