Facebook – You Can’t Join Marketing Model

Unless you’ve been in a very deep sleep over the past few years, you have undoubtedly heard of Facebook the social network which it seems that everyone and their brother belongs to. Facebook popularity is a fricken mystery to me.

First of all yes, I do have a Facebook account I felt almost pressured to have one, if I didn’t I’d be the only kid in town not on the playground.

What drives me crazy is the WHY it’s so popular. Let’s face it, from a user experience IT SUCKS! Yeah I said it IT SUCKS!

Think about this…

  • It’s slow as all hell
  • You can’t find what you want most of the time
  • It takes not just 3 clicks but literally up to 7 clicks or more to get to the place where you want to be if you can find it
  • Apps requests piss me off, their annoying (finally you can ignore them, too bad you can just permanently block them)
  • It redesigned an experience everyone was use to all ready on other social networks

So why all the rage? Why are people lining up in droves to get an account?

After much deliberation, I think I’ve found the answer. Keyword is THINK here so stay with me on this.

In order to understand this phenomena you have to go back to the beginnings of Facebook itself. How did it start? Well the founders launched a private social network just for Harvard students to connect and socialize. There’s internet legend that was created in order to get into a “SECRET SOCIETY”, I’m not sure if that’s true or not.

Ok back to the point. As word spread it also spread to other colleges. If you weren’t currently enrolled in a college you couldn’t join. Let me restate that… YOU COULD NOT JOIN. Remember that. So Facebook was basically turning away people left and right. I remember way back when I tried to sign up just to see what all the talk was about and I realized I couldn’t because I wasn’t in college.

So now people are talking about how cool it is. Specifically college students.


Think about this. You’re a senior in high school you have your group of friends and now you all split up to go to college. Let’s assume you have 20 friends and you all may go to 20 different colleges. You arrive at college and get 20 NEW friends who all have 20 friends at 20 other colleges.

All of a sudden this cool, ultra hop “social network” comes around and you can instantly communicate with ALL your OLD friends and now your NEW friends too! Everyone does the same and BOOM you now have a VIRAL EXPLOSION. The best part is everyone starts talking about it, it becomes popular and the OLD PEOPLE, those not in college want in. Facebook then says NOOOO! YOU CAN’T JOIN.

When someone tells you can’t join, it makes you want it a little bit more. So after much build up, Facebook generously allows the OLD PEOPLE to join and now instead of just 20 friends we tell everyone we’ve ever met our whole lives. NOW WE HAVE VIRAL EXPLOSION PART 2.

It gets even better… Facebook then says to some of your friends YOU CAN’T JOIN because you live in another country. After months of waiting. They open globally and BOOM VIRAL EXPLOSION PART 3.

The lesson in all this?

You can have an inferior product, build buzz, shut people out and you can still create a huge success.

This is basically the marketing model many marketers have used with limited time offers or limited sales numbers. In other words this model works in any industry.

How can you use it yours?


  1. Nico on July 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I totally agree… I don’t like facebook either I’m a hardcore myspacer though with 17K friends that I have never even tried to market to. But It looks like for some reason “Facebook” is cool all of a sudden we are being forced to be on there.

  2. Koorosh Vahabi on August 2, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Hi Armand,

    Thanks for the post, you make some really good points. And I even learned some viral techniques.

    Having said that though, if Facebook didn’t offer anything good at all, people would realize it and just leave and not come back.

    Thats what happened to Myspace. The only reason people stayed on Myspace so long was because there was nothing better available. Then came Facebook and Myspace users began to decline. (I have never been a myspace user myself.)

    But until something comes along that is better than facebook, users for facebook will increase.

    I think facebook just like anything else can be used for benefit or pointless time wasting or both.

    I use it to keep in touch with friends. I have the convenience of having them all in one site. It has also allowed me to meet and interact with like minded people, and have access to hard to reach marketers. Its a great mastermind tool.


    Thanks again for your post.