Do you remember the days when Inbox came out? Did you too harass your friends to get an invite like my friends did to me?
Gmail had more than 500 million users when Inbox was released as an invite only product. So, obviously Inbox wasn’t after acquisition but what were they after?
Adoption. That is why they turned the social distribution scheme upside down. Instead of rewarding people with money or free disk space they rewarded people with the privilege of having invitations. Those privileged people (the Innovators and the Early Adopters
) were already going to try Inbox. By giving Innovators and Early adopters a higher status, Google turned them into a distribution tool. Limited access made Early Majority crave for Inbox which in turn both accelerated adoption and increased the satisfaction of those lucky enough to use Inbox.
Has it worked for Google? I don’t know the exact numbers but the screenshot above is a very important sign that it worked out very well for Google.
Speaking of “invite people and earn X” tactic… I have this friend who subscribed to a healthy eating service which gives free meals for invites. That tactic made him cancel his subscription because he brought too many people and ended up gaining more weight (!)
Invite friends and earn money/disk space/beta participation etc. is a classic gamification practice and a very, very powerful social distribution tool. And you don’t always have to give away stuff. Giving status works, too.
4. Rapid Cycle
What this means is that the time between invitation, acceptance, and a subsequent invitation needs to be small. — BJ Fogg
On a more abstract level, Rapid Cycle can be re-stated as following:
“What this means is that the time between action, feedback, and a subsequent action needs to be small.”
When viewed like this, Nir Eyal’s Hook Model, the most important tool in my gamification toolbox, perfectly matches Rapid Cycle. Hook is Nir’s explanation for why some products are so addictive. Simply put, we get motivated if we get positive and instant feedback for our behaviors. Even better, if we get a chance to take a step further we get more motivated and even addicted.