Did you use the Invite feature on Anahitapolis website? Yes, No, why?
We installed an embryo release of the Anahita ™ Invites app on Anahitapolis (www.anahitapolis.com/invite) you can use it to invite up to 3 of your friends to Anahitapolis so they don't have to fill out the contact form on this page Join Anahitapolis Atrium
Not many of you have used it. So there are 3 possibilities that I could think of:
You didn't know about it
Well now you know :)
You tried using it, but there was a bug and it didn't work
In that case we would like to know what went wrong so we can fix it.
You just didn't bother!
Which brings up a good question. Is the Invites app one of those features that we all think is good and we must have it on our social networks but in reality it never gets used, but we refuse to accept it because it goes against our belief?
Tell us what you think please!
I have picket out 3 developers (could maybe even have used up to 5 invites), and have prepared for this since I first saw the possibility for "3 invites and 5 questions" a year ago when I joined this community. Those 3 have preliminary shown principal interest, but will be asked to confirm again before I invite them through the inviter app.
Those developers are social people to me in a field outside their professional work, and I thought of using them partly as influencers in our common field of interest, to promote the community, and partly to possibly create some potential contacts to advice (and maybe work together with me on an open source basis) towards a future distributed social web for my community solution.
I appreciate an easy way to invite these people I have in mind (as this will make it easier for me to make them accept), and I will probably make use of it quite soon, so I hope the challenges being mentioned, is solved by now.
For our own community sites, I believe this could be a really valuable application, and there are really a lot of great advices in this thread to make it even more attractive to use. Some times, a good idea just needs a little bit of adjustments to become a really great idea. So I still believe in this one to, and would encourage you to continue, and maybe you cold use some of the good advices given above :)
I would also use this on my own site, but I would still like to collect the user information, as it is an important thing for me to start to get a feeling of "who are the users really". To me it is of greater value to start up the 1-1 marketing process than to offer discounts. Maybe there should be options, so it could be used either in a setting where access is regarded an active in itself, as well as for a variety of promotional exercises depending on the situation.
I saw it and didnt use it YET :) I would say that it simply has to be built into a work flow of some sorts and then it becomes useful. For example twitter builds it into its registration of a new account therefore users create there twitter account and as part of the process [step 3 or whatever] they are asked to tell there friends on other social networks about there new twitter profile - this makes sense and some maybe not all, do it. After all why create a profile and not tell anyone about it!!! also creating groups - one should create a group and just before finishing creating it they should invite their social graph to this group - again it has to be part of a workflow - in my opinion. As a standalone menu item I see it as pretty useless in terms of a large up take. Just my thoughts... Over to you guys.... ;)
Telling our friend about something trough email is just so back in the days and out of the realworld.
How we are doing this in ohanah is simple: because you can connect trough fb, tw, linkedin, ecc ... just push out on the relative graph a story about you registering to this system for example, you can do this automatically or even better by simple ask to confirm to push that out on your story stream, in whataver workflow you may thing is needed, relevant and useful, that's it. The people who follow you will just see this and if interested look into it. thats it and thats how we do it. I believe that graph communication like this are more powerful as you get real attention and interest, inviting via email is more active, requesting, "pulling" some one in.
Is like if you buy a new car and you send him an email, hey friend, i got a new audi, get your self one! the best thing is if he see you on that car and he likes it, he will probably think about getting one like this when he will need one or even better seing a lot of people liking yout picture of you driving your car on fb graph...anyway u got the idea.
that's my 50cents, email are surpassed for this kind of communication and graphs are the new media, lets use them then ;-) and let's drop old assumptions...
@james said: The invite app is maybe not a strike for Anahitapolis but its a success for an event-site for sure.
@Nick said: if it can tell you more actually i never sent invite to people from fb, twitter, linkedin, gowalla, foursquare or others.
@Nick said: that's my 50cents, email are surpassed for this kind of communication and graphs are the new media, lets use them then ;-) and let's drop old assumptions...
@james when you say for sure, do you know any cases that it actually did work or is it more of a gut feeling that you have?
@all I lean towards @Nick's argument. He is developing a Saas event management system right now as we speak and he is a valid reference.
@torkil both points that you've mentioned are great. I'll add them to the to-do list. Thank you very much!
nice wrap up Rastin! further more in the event scenario inviting is a even more a must, but as we are going toward a full social event system, i think those invites are just not right for it, even for events. There is a nice study about the value of social shares from eventrbite, what this tell you if you read under the lines, is that sharing, and therefore using the graph is more worth then using the standard way of communicating and inviting.
social networks are changing the way we communicate, we are among the first to fully embrace those concepts and thats why people still ask for their old way of communicating and inviting, without ever noticing that they are just behaving differently.
look gowalla or foursquare for example, a service to share the place you go. you can invite people to it, actually i never did it and neither i received an invite myself to join, but my fb friend or twitter leader where just pushing out info from there, and got me curoius untill i jumped in.
Is hard to convince people to jump on using anew system, a new technology or embrace a new network by inviting them there. So the effort to me is not worth, is more easy to show the world how your few users love this new place, service or technology, how they use it and for what scope. This attract interest.
and if i still want to invite a friend to such place by email, well that's easy, i'll send him an email;-)
sorry to get so passionate about this guys, but those theme resonate inside me so much - luuuv it! thanks for such an awesome place, minds and discussion, i'm quite busy and not that often on anahitapolis but this discussion was just so much more powerful then any invite ;-)
see you on the graph!
@Andy Said: "I'm not sure I agree that you can assume that - why not 1% or 15%? I simply don't think that there are that many people who know each other well who are all thinking about starting a social network."
@Andy Said: "The presumption that 'it doesn't work here, so it doesn't work' is not valid, especially when it hasn't been front and centre on the site"
We've had 0.8% who sent out invites. That is as good as zero people. That sure says something. We've had very good response with invitations going from Groups to people within Anahitapolis. 50% or more of the invites often joined a new group that I created. The actor to actor invitations is for sure something we are going to invest more time in.
I'm still not convinced that sending out email invites is the most effective feature. I still think it is more of a belief amongst the online marketers that it is effective, but it is not a proven fact for companies who don't have brands as strong as google, Facebook, or hotmail. I like to see some evidence of it.
@Andy Said: "There's no doubt that countless sites use such features to spread the word"
klout.com - I didn't see email invites being sent out. Only Facebook invites. I think Facebook invites are still ok because emails are not shared with the Klout service, and also Klout seems like a pretty strong brand.
@Andy Said: "I don't think email will be ultra successful on its own anyway (it will be more so if linked with contacts though - ease of use), but amongst real communities a good implementation of Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn etc invites will be well used even if it doesn't make the site an overnight success."
I am more in favour of social invites than email invites, although I always skip them myself because I do like the people in my social graph and don't want to spam them. I think a better approach is sharing a story update on twitter or Facebook so people by choice can see whether they want to join a service or not. Invites, I get many everyday and ignore them all.
@Helio "For me the "Invite" would be worth using if it would be packed with more features."
We need to have a working prototype or simple implementation to justify adding more features to it. And also rather than packing a product with features, the idea is to increase the potency of a product by taking out the clutter and keeping only the most effective ones.
In this case the email invite was not effective at all. However the Actor to Actor invites worked quite well.
@Bent "I believe this could be a really valuable application"
I would love to see some implementations of both email invites and social invites on the web that we know by fact generated outstanding results.
@james said: "one should create a group and just before finishing creating it they should invite their social graph to this group - again it has to be part of a workflow - in my opinion."
I agree including that in the work flow could make a positive difference. In fact the Group to People invitations on Anahitapolis worked quite well so we will in fact invest in improving and utilizing it further in the upcoming releases.
@torkil - agree with your points about deliverability of notifications and invites, and as social network could grow quite big, and even at small mediium size can generate quite a lot of them maybe detaching the mailing of this with some external service like http://postmarkapp.com/ could be an option, otherwise the server will be drown for just sending those and not for managing the real core, what you think?
@Rastin I took a look at the invite tab and was a little discouraged. If I were to use this feature I would be at a loss.
I know quite a few fellow webmasters but I'd be hard pressed to come up with an email address for them. I would have to chase them down to get it through various social networks. If I am going to chase them down I might as well just tell them about Anahita then and there.
Are you familliar with http://www.goscoville.com ? They have a pretty slick invite feature that taps the social networks themselves.
@ Rastin, well twitter and facebook mostly have the invites come alive in the users face when you create a group or when you register for the first time - in these instances (in my opinion) one can have a better chance of actually carrying out the task of actually inviting someone new to the group,event or site itself. Yes I am sure twitter and facebook have the invite app in personal settings if you go in there but they are always trying to get it into a workflow of some sort.
My own site will need to work around events and groups so yes like Nick I have the same feelings as him on this. I do not have hard case examples but I have been "messing" with a few community sites for a few years now and putting something in front of a user and then getting a user to actual carry out the task are two very different things!! ;) as you well know I imagine.
A little story i would like to share with you about FB and their live feed system:
back in the days, when they deployed for the first time the live feed that pushes to your dashbaord your friends activities without you having to go on every profile from each of your friend to look at what is doing, a lot of people started a fight against this new system, calling it "stalkish". and they started groups areound the world claiming for shutting this feature off and bring the old way of learning about your friends back. Those groups grew big, and by big i mean reaching more then 100k users in few weeks and keep growing.
Zuck and the team had an important meeting where they were really worried about all this disappointment in this new feature that costed the company a lot (by the time was the hardest challange they ever faced).
they were about to roll them back and let this live feed back, but Zuckerberg correctly pointed out one thing: If those groups against the live feed have grown so much so quickly is just because the live feed infect IS working, and when you see your friend joining an interesting group you join that too, this grown couldn't be possible with only the email inviter in place.
So this story tells you how powerful is the graph, how powerful is the sharing of stories through it, i always think about this story when i deal with the graph as it put my mindset in the right shape.
When we start building a new app we first put in the most elementary bits and functions in place, install the app on Anahitapolis, and then as people use the app we observe their behaviour patterns and improve the product. That is a recipe to develop technologies for the future where we have no or little point of reference in the past. It also relies on how people actually use and interact with a technology rather than what they think a technology should be.
Having the most basic bits and functions in place may seem discouraging to some people, probably because we like to see finished and polished products to be presented to us, however in reality an application has to go through it's evolutionary stages.
The existing view (http://www.anahitapolis.com/invite) was really there for me to facilitate processing the large volume of new inquiries for basic accounts. We also shared it with the Anahitapolis members to see how it will be used.
but Zuckerberg correctly pointed out one thing: If those groups against the live feed have grown so much so quickly is just because the live feed infect IS working, and when you see your friend joining an interesting group you join that too, this grown couldn't be possible with only the email inviter in place.
Never underestimate the power of social graph and story feeds!
putting something in front of a user and then getting a user to actual carry out the task are two very different things!! ;) as you well know I imagine.
Yes I agree!
@Rastin - I was not arguing -for- email invites, I took this discussion to be about not just Invites but also about what Invites could be, and I think others did too. I didn't claim that klout.com sent email invites, your point back then had seemed to be against site invites, not specifically email as it appears now.
I don't think anyone at all has argued that email invites are the 'most effective'. Nevertheless, if I looked I would find sites that invite via email (pretty sure Facebook is one, if they tohught it was useless they wouldn't maintain the code). They are a tool in the box. If you don't want to develop email that's fine, its social invites that matter.
Everyone has been making the point that social invites are more useful/powerful, so I guess we're agreed on that.
Invites as things stand is a very basic start at inviting, and is email only - that's fine its a first step.
-Its not right to dismiss email invites based on the way Invites currently works, which all seem to agree is relatively rudimentary.
-Its not right to assume that because people didn't send invites, the method etc was wrong. If you introduced Facebook, or even gave me $50 (seriously), I still do not have someone to invite, and it sounds as though that applies to others. You're again suggesting that a low success rate argues against invites generally, but we need to think in terms of all social groups and sites.
-Its not right to assume that all users would rather use social networks even if social networks is a better way of doing things. Many of my addressable market are either the type or age of people who really couldn't give a d*mn about social networking even if they knew what it was :-) I do think however they will benefit from and use the site. It will be email or nothing for them though as they don't want to be on FB/Tw with their sons/daughters... If they know someone else who wants to be a part of the site, they will email them. If Anahita makes that easier, they will do it there, and they will be more likely to a. do it, and b. invite more people.
If it is technically demanding or will take too long to manage integration with various email accounts then fine, but don't dismiss email on the basis of Anahitapolis' experiment with a very nascent Invites app, and a load of technically minded, relatively young people.
This discussion seems to got lost because it now seems we are talking about different things. Let's be clear:
What are the reasons for the lack of success of the Invites menu item on Anahitapolis?
Are invitations useful generally? Is injecting into Facebook, Twitter etc feeds better? Do we have to use one or the other? (thats a no by the way :-)
When we are talking about methods like Facebook, we are talking about a clearly defined API. When we are talking about email there are numerous ways to cut it. Which one is best? When we know, we can ask:
Which invitation methods are most useful?
How should they be limited, integrated into workflow etc.
This is a big discussion, and for my money we've not addressed it well enough so far... Each of these is worth of a separate discussion on their own.
I don't think anyone at all has argued that email invites are the 'most effective'.
Everyone has been making the point that social invites are more useful/powerful, so I guess we're agreed on that.
I think that is a good conclusion for this topic that if we ever want to send invitations outside a social network, perhaps social invites are better choices than email invites. That is something we could look into for the Anahita ™ Invites as well as integrating invitation features into the workflows.
You're again suggesting that a low success rate argues against invites generally, but we need to think in terms of all social groups and sites.
If not generally (I am still unsure about email invites) it does bring up the question whether we want to implement features that are not being used on Anahitapolis? Perhaps these types of features are better implemented by a 3rd party company who is more specialized and interested in building marketing related tools for Anahita. We will certainly help them promote those apps here on Anahitapolis. If email invitation apps are in demand with some social networks, that is a future business opportunity for 3rd party developers. We much rather focus on building applications that get used in most case scenarios and in higher volumes, because then we get to gradually improve the application by observing how they are being used.
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