A while ago I read an article on the lessons to learn from the DropBox marketing model. After reading the chapter on empowered interactivity I immediately recalled that article and how incentivizing referals increased signups by something like 60%. People generally want to share what is useful to them, and they really want to share something if it can benefit them in someway. When thinking of what the word ‘benefit’ (or more specifically, economic incentive) means to a given person I immediately think of the RSA Animate video about what motivates us and the example they give about Wikipedia: experienced professions and academics who could easily use hours spend researching and writing Wikipedia articles working for sizable monetary reward instead choose to work for free. Why? Because it is satisfying: there is a social currency that one receives when achieving something that a community of persons respects and affirms. This is why the FAQ model that Stackoverflow employs works so well (although the model has changed a bit since they tied site reputation to the ability to interact with the Careers site). This is why monetary referrals without social recognition don’t always work so well.
These couple lines rung true with a couple recent products / marketing efforts I’ve seen:
Secrets are currency. Revealing a secret is a definite conversation starter… Limit those in the know of a secret, those not in the know want the currency of knowing – they want to be part of the exclusive circle. (Buzzmarketing, P.37)
Push Pop Press immediately came to mind while reading this. They haven’t released anything yet, they have only demoed the product to a select few, and there are no publicly available demo videos. They are near 6,000 followers on twitter and really haven’t put any money into marketing their product. I’m interested in what they are coming out with, and I’m sure many others are too. They are definitely playing the secrecy card correctly. The MacHeist bundle was successful because of exclusivity and secrecy that they built up around the bundle. Apple (obviously) does this with almost all their product releases. Gmail did this with the invite system when gmail originally launched. Being in the know is attractive, and people will ‘spread the word’ if they know something others don’t.