Invitation system, the small threshold that can make the product explode

Although today's Clubhouse has become a product that most Chinese netizens don't use, we will see a lot of the phenomenon of "ten thousand people asking for codes" that it brings.

After all, the invitation system can make a newly born product become a popular fried chicken, and can also maintain the user quality of the product at a high level. For many applications, the invitation system is an important means of cold start. Although no product has made invitations as a barrier to entry for users throughout, the invitation system will never disappear.

Invitation system, we are never unfamiliar

We can first look at the existence of the invitation system in life.

The invitation to a party is the most common threshold. The party has a promoter, and other people want to join the party by the invitation and consent of the original members of the party. This is actually an invitation system.

The common areas of the invitation system are the process of applying for a bank card. Although every family is on the street to invite you to apply for a bank card, many people still choose to let their friends invite themselves, and friends get points and cards themselves.

Even in the community, inviting friends into the group is an invitation-based action. If we regard wool group and information group as a product, then we as inviters are actually voluntarily attracting users for it.

▲ The wedding is also by invitation. Picture from: The New York Times

Since the invitation system is a way for one person to invite other friends, this way itself has certain social attributes, so we can often see this way on social applications.

The social application Wallop made by Microsoft in 2005 uses the invitation system, and only invited users can use this application; the oasis that Weibo has been pushing wildly in recent years is gaining momentum, and it was initially spread through the invitation system; former Kuanbo CEO Wang The anonymous social product "Toilet MT" made by Xin also completed a cold start through the invitation system.

▲ Wallop

And the first person who used the invitation system in social products may be Andrew Weinreich-he made a social product sixdegrees based on six degrees of contacts. He even printed out the invitation emails when he showed the products to investors, and asked the investors present to enter the email addresses of their relatives and friends on the computer next door. These relatives and friends can choose whether to join after receiving the group emails. This is the first time an Internet service has adopted this method to obtain user authentication.

If it succeeds, nothing will happen to the subsequent social products. But no one could accept this advanced theory at the time, so the opportunity came to Facebook. In the early days, Facebook users could invite students who have not registered to complete the registration. Even when other schools were expanding, Facebook developed by sending letters inviting key people to join.

Even when Facebook’s new user growth was stagnant, the invitation system saved Facebook’s life. In 2006, Facebook has abandoned the threshold that users need to be invited to register, but the invitation system is still very important for their user growth, but they changed to another invitation method.

At that time, once the user provided his/her login name and password in Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo Mail, Facebook would go in and crawl the address book. If the person in the address book was already on Facebook, it would send him/her a friend request, if If the person in the address book is not on Facebook, the invitation will be sent after the user agrees. After an invitation email, Facebook waited until the day when its users exceeded 100 million.

Facebook’s early investor Zynga also learned from this, and then launched the invitation-based platform "Farmville". In its heyday, Happy Farm also had 80 million users.

▲ Happy Farm invitation interface

Invitation system, you have to read it before you talk

Relying on the invitation of friends to spread has made many products the best way to cold start, but the invitation system is not a panacea, and there is no guarantee that the product will be hot in the future as "a size is hard to find". This also leads to users who are accustomed to a variety of routines when they encounter the invitation-based Dahuo app, they need to observe and observe first to confirm whether the service is valuable., founded by Luo Yonghao in 2006, also quickly became popular through the invitation system, and even let most Chinese netizens know a similar way to acquire customers for the first time. But this product didn't last long, and it couldn't even live in people's memory. was remembered because of Luo Yonghao, but there were more invitation-based products when users went around asking for invitation codes, but now they can’t even remember their names.

▲ There are still people who miss

One of the three social applications that challenged WeChat, "Toilet MT" was an invitation-based product. How is it now? And "Pictures", which used to invite 4 people as the threshold for unlocking the product, also chose the cold start method of invitation production. How many people are still using this app today? Tencent once launched a small program called "Top Brand View" with a short comment community. When it was launched, users spontaneously set up groups to pass codes alternately. However, the number of users today is too small compared with the users who passed codes alternately at the time.

The invitation system can explode quickly if it operates properly and is endorsed by celebrities. But whether a tower in the sky without a foundation can be erected is another question. This is likely to be a story of "seeing him getting up from the Zhulou, seeing his banquet guests, seeing his building collapsed."

▲ The invitation system can make the server unable to host, but this may be temporary

When Clubhouse became popular, many people thought that this app was purely by invitation, and it lasted only three months. But in fact, Clubhouse has been telling everyone through nearly a year of development that this is not a short-lived product. Although celebrity effect and invitation system have allowed it to gain more attention, it has now survived with its own product form.

On the contrary, it takes more time to launch the camera app Dispo, which is "We are going to reshape Instagram." After all, although it was made into Silicon Valley's popular fried chicken because of the invitation, its product model is not significantly different from other products. It is difficult to say this. Is it a product that will explode in a short period of time but will also decline rapidly.

So when looking at a product that has received a lot of attention due to the invitation system, we may also have to extend the observation time of this app longer. As long as it can survive for three months, it can prove that it has the ability to gain a foothold in this Internet world that loves the new and dislikes the old.

After the invitation system, there are more difficult exams

After three months, did the cold-start Internet products using the invitation system prove their capabilities?

This answer is certain. After three months, the celebrity effect and the enthusiasm for invitation production have basically cooled down, and the user's behavior is the most true answer. But three months may be just the first small difficulty, after which there will be more troubles waiting for the growing product.

As a product developed by the invitation system, Zhihu has been experiencing difficult exams after the invitation system. This exam has been tested for many years. In 2013, Zhihu changed from an invitation system to an open system, everything is for the growth of users. Zhihu founder Zhou Yuan once said that Zhihu, which adopts the invitation system, "is like a city where the population base has stopped growing and is beginning to show fatigue."

The open Zhihu ushered in a rapid increase in users, with hundreds of thousands of users instantly becoming millions, and then hundreds of millions of users today. But when an "ideal country" welcomes a large number of new residents, many old residents may not get used to it. In other words, the surge of new users has driven out the original high-quality old users to a certain extent, causing the quality of the originally harmonious and high-quality content community to decline.

Ma Huateng, who was on the front line of eating melons, knew that the first question he paid attention to was "Who are the moms who scolded Li Guoqing?" Now, Zhang Xiaolong, who almost only shared with users in WeChat Open Class Pro, was back then. I also answered the question "What is the most important thing Jobs taught people?" Xu Xiaoping, who was once active, was last active in Zhihu in 2017. These people were once Zhihu loyal users, and they are also the epitome of Zhihu's gradual silence.

For application teams that use the invitation system, the invitation system can make users more want to get a ticket to the product, so that the platform has its own aura, but it also ensures a good content sharing atmosphere and creates a high-quality community . So after the cancellation of the invitation system, almost all platforms will face the problem of reduced content quality.

Social platforms such as Facebook and WeChat do not have this problem. The number of users increases. They still have fixed contacts and communities that they are used to. Interference with other users is limited, and it is difficult for new users to drive away old users. But for applications where content is the core competitiveness, it is difficult for both high-quality content and high-growth user groups to coexist.

Zhihu is one case, Pinterest is another. When it was launched, Pinterest also adopted a closed invitation system. At that time, how to get an invitation from Pinterest became one of the most common topics on the Internet. On the contrary, it made more users eager to join.

Later, someone asked Silbermann, the co-founder of Pinterest, whether the membership invitation system was the reason for Pinterest's success. His answer is that there may not be an answer to this matter, because the AB test could not be done at the time, or the invitation system may not be implemented, but the number of users of Pinterest can grow faster.

But what we can be sure of is that after the opening of registration in 2012, Pinterest users have indeed ushered in an explosion. Perhaps due to the relationship between the depth and duration of content consumption, Pinterest after the opening did not face a lot of controversy about quality degradation like Zhihu, but they did face a crisis.

One is that it makes little money. Pinterest's average revenue per user (ARPU) is still very low. In the second quarter of last year, it fell 21% year-on-year to 0.7 US dollars (4.5 yuan). The second is the positioning problem. Pinterest is not a social platform, but a sharing platform. User stickiness is low. Third, under the influence of other platforms, the attractiveness of segmented platforms such as Pinterest has shown a downward trend.

As a content sharing platform, Clubhouse, which is in the process of rapid development, will also need to open up one day to welcome more users. Judging from the current product settings, Clubhouse has actually established a mechanism by which users can get certain restrictions. The speakers are fixed and the observers need to raise their hands to speak. But after the product is opened, the product itself will face more tests.

For Internet products, the superimposed effect of celebrity effect + invitation system will make the product stand out faster. Among them, there are many short-lived gimmick products, but there are also many applications that can break through with their own product charm and unique operating methods. It’s just that it’s difficult for apps to maintain the community atmosphere through the invitation system from start to finish. After opening, there are more problems waiting for the product founders.

Celebrity endorsements, entry barriers, and tens of thousands of people asking for yards, this is the charm of the invitation system "unsurprising." Although the invitation system itself does not determine the success or failure of the product itself, as an effective promotion method at the start-up stage of the product, it can definitely make the product more likely to succeed.

The title picture comes from "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Not too interesting, not too optimistic.

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