Are invite-only social media apps a good idea?

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You have heard of this really cool new app. After downloading it from the App Store, a large graphic screams: “Invite-Only”. Without an invitation, it looks like the app is not for you.

It is an experience that undoubtedly many people have had. Invitation-only apps appear to be an emerging trend, several of which are gaining popularity.

But are they just another fad or is there something particularly valuable about the concept?

What are invitation-only apps?

Simply put, invite-only apps are apps that you must be invited by other users or by the company in order to use them.

Why would a business do this? There are several reasons why an app might present itself as invitation-only.

The app may be in beta and the developers don’t want everyone to be able to use it. Or the app can aim for exclusivity. Some of these apps have a publicly accessible waitlist if they expand the number of users they allow or if they do beta testing.

They may have different reasons, but the concept is always the same: no invitation, no access.

While technically many of these apps can be downloaded by anyone, the developers restrict who can create an account. Therefore, you cannot create an account to use the app without an invitation.

Examples of applications by invitation only

In 2020 and 2021, a few well-known invite-only apps started making headlines.

Clubhouse is probably the invite-only app you’ve heard the most about. It is an audio-only social media platform that has popped up on Twitter a few times after celebrities chatted there.

Another example is Raya. Raya is a celebrity-only dating app with Emilia Clarke and Channing Tatum using the app.

Finally, another app you may have heard of is Dispo, a camera app that tries to recreate the classic viewfinder in the user interface. However, it left this app category when Dispo stopped requiring an invite.

Reasons invite-only apps are a good idea

clubhouse invitation app only

Invitation-only apps have some advantages, they’re not just a posh type of app.

Here are some of the benefits for users and developers …

Hype

This is probably one of the main reasons for an invitation-only app. As everyone will tell you if you are going to release an app, you have to make it stand out. One sure way to do this is to get people talking, and it seems exclusivity is the secret.

Most of the invite-only apps we mentioned earlier have taken the internet by storm: they trended on Twitter for days and made headlines. People are starting to talk about the app and the popularity is increasing online. With popularity comes desirability. You’ve heard of the app, now you want it.

Not only do you want to use the app to see what it’s all about, but you’re also going to do whatever you can to make it happen. A lot of people were selling Clubhouse invitations on Twitter and eBay, and people were buying them.

In fact, the hype of invite-only apps that we’ve seen before has been enough to inspire existing businesses to emulate them. Facebook is working on a Clubhouse copy app to try and keep up with the same success, and Instagram is adding similar features to try and keep up with the demand.

User experience

Apps want to make their users happy. And when there are loopholes in harnessing the need for protection of leading people against the masses, the two go hand in hand.

If you control who can sign up for your app, you can control the type of users you have. Whether you just want to protect your users from spam accounts and bots, or deal with celebrities, you are in control.

With invitation-only access, businesses can have more control over the experience that users have on their app. How good would it not be if you didn’t mind spamming or having to deal with the public all the time if you are a celebrity?

Beta tests

One final reason invite-only apps can be beneficial is beta testing. Companies are constantly testing new applications or updates. They don’t want everyone to use a really buggy version of their app, especially if it’s a new app.

If businesses can ensure that only certain users or their team can use the app, they can happily beta test without worrying about server loads or an influx of bug reports and bad reviews.

Reasons why invite-only apps are a bad idea

social media apps

Despite some of the benefits, the glare sometimes seems to fade and you are left with only bare bones.

So what are the downsides of invitation-only apps?

Hype

The hype is as much a trap as it is an advantage. While it’s true that the hype gets people to talk about an app and then use it, the hype has to end at some point.

Twitter has only been trending for a very long time, and once every news site writes one post on the app, they won’t write another. If an app has relied on its hype to be successful, it will run into issues when the hype runs out.

Expectations VS Reality

When there’s a buzz around an app and people talk about it, people have some idea of ​​what the app will look like. And exclusivity can amplify the expectations of the application.

But often the application is not amazing. Rather, the app is something that works. Or, while it’s a good app, it won’t live up to the standard people have in mind.

For example, I started using Clubhouse a few months ago, but haven’t been back to it since. I admit, I was intrigued by the hype and wanted to get in. But it wasn’t for me. That’s not to say it’s not a good app, there has been a lot of praise for it actually.

But when you focus solely on exclusivity, sometimes you miss out on what the app is really trying to accomplish.

Exclusivity is running out

The last reason invite-only apps aren’t as good as they look is because the exclusivity is sold out. As an app’s user base grows, so does the number of people invited to the platform. Little by little, more and more people are signing up, and it’s growing exponentially because … math.

When there are as many people using an app as in other apps, you can’t really call the exclusive app anymore. The app’s biggest selling point is gone. And at this point, what’s the point of needing invitations when most people can get one quite easily?

Are invite-only apps good or unnecessary?

While invite-only apps have their perks, they can quickly fizzle out and leave users with a poorer experience than they expected. Unless you’re beta testing or need to protect your users from the masses, you probably don’t need to make your app exclusive.

But, whatever, they make people talk; and that is probably why you are reading this article.


person holding a smartphone

What is the Clubhouse app everyone is talking about?

If you’ve heard the name but don’t know anything about the app, read on to find out what the Clubhouse is and why it’s making the headlines.

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