#hacktic: Pinterest’s Invitation Only Signup
The hack: Pinterest’s invitation-only registration process.
Why it worked: Though the Pinterest sign-up process consisted of several clever growth hacks, we are going to look at the invitation-only element. In case you didn’t hop on the Pinterest bandwagon in those early days, here’s how it worked: anyone could see current members’ pins and browse their boards, but before new users could create and curate boards of their very own, they had to request an invitation and then wait for it to arrive via email at some undisclosed point in the future.
This was effective for several reasons: first, it made Pinterest seem both in-demand and also exclusive—everyone wants it but no one has it—generating a buzz amongst users who were excited to try it out. You could see how cool the product was, but you weren’t allowed to play until that invite arrived.
The lack of specificity as to when the invitation would actually show up only heightened this sense of anticipation. Once the invitation finally came, people were more than happy to brag on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere that they were one of the chosen few who had early access.
This fueled the demand and anticipation of others in their social network, propagating the viral loop.
Try this if:
- You have a bit of a buzz going from influencers or media and want to generate more—exclusivity doesn’t matter if people don’t know they want your product yet.
- There are elements to your product or service that non-users want but don’t need—the invitation-request could backfire if you’re blocking access to functionality vital to the user experience. Note that non-members could still browse and access information via Pinterest, they just couldn’t take advantage of features like pinning and creating boards.