It doesn’t matter how good your Social Network is if you can’t build a hardcore fan base. Google+ has yet to open to the public but has already mobilized an army of dedicated users offering rave reviews about its awesomeness. So long as Google+ Beta is an invite only club, they continue to create a pool of Early Adopters who will commit their undying support for this new venture and create a buzz more valuable than any purchased advertising. Google has cleverly found a way to grow their army of Early Adopters exponentially before ever officially launching their new network to the public.
Being an Early Adopter is a badge of pride and a difficult bond to break. My husband STILL brags about the fact that he joined Facebook when it was called THE Facebook and required a college email address to sign up. Twitter’s initial launch fell flat until they followed their small fan base to SXSW. They didn’t just offer the tech savvy audience a sneak peak at the new network but the elite experience of giving it a spin at a once in a lifetime event. In both instances, the networks created Early Adopters who became their most diehard fans and biggest cheerleaders.
Google+ Beta is no different. Everyone seems to be in agreement: It’s a polished, super simplified version of Facebook… and people LOVE it! I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen prey to the Early Adopter Syndrome. I know I’m not a hotshot, but when my Google+ invite finally arrived, I became a trendsetter (at least in my own mind). I imagine this must be what motivates Apple fanatics to sleep outside an Apple store before a big launch just to be the first to have the new iWhatever. Especially when they know full well that everyone and their mom will have one of their own in a couple days.
There is one more thing worth mentioning about the much coveted Google+ invite. It doesn’t have to come from Google, just someone who has a Google+ account. In fact anywhere you go online you can find someone willing to spread the invite love around. So an invite is not just an invite, it’s the keys to the city. It allows you to invite as many people (with gmail accounts) as you want. Now you’re not only an Early Adopter but you get to allow other people to claim the same title. While in Beta, it may not be open to the public, but it’s very much open to the public. Even I’m guilty of sending invites to online strangers anxious to be the first of their friends to try it out.
It’s a brilliant move on Google’s part. As invites spread like wildfire, it still maintains its exclusive feel making every new user feel like a trendsetter and thus developing a solid bond with the new network. Being an Early Adopter means you get to be part of something big before it becomes big. You feel invested and loyal. My hat is off to the marketing geniuses behind Google. Their Early Adopter plan is simple but genius – exactly how the first users describe Google+.