Remember a few weeks ago … the invitation only press conference where Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook enhanced messaging (email) to thunderous acclaim from the traditional media and thousands of terabytes of blog coverage. I signed up to get my new @Facebook.com email address almost before the Facebook press conference was over. But, alas, no @facebook.com yet.
All I want for Christmas is my Facebook email
Well, that’s not entirely true, but I would like my @facebook.com email address. So would lots of folks. So, where are our email accounts?
Facebook email is tied up in a morass of technical problems ?
Well, that’s possible. Its possible that Facebook can only support a few email addresses at this point and they’ll give us all @facebook.com email addresses when they can. I’m not a techie so I can’t tell you WHAT exactly these technical problems look like, but I sort of doubt this is the explanation anyway. Yes, I know its taken my university MONTHS to get me an operational email account (which is why I never use it), but I’m sure Facebook pays their IT staff more than a private university could afford.
Facebook is just being cautious to test out the system before rolling it out?
Let’s face it — this would be a new turn of events for Facebook and not part of Facebook’s normal business strategy. Normally Facebook pushes its innovations to us as soon as they can — in that business you have to stay ahead of your competitors. Facebook lets all 500 million of us act as Beta testers while they tweak the system to get it right.
Facebook has learned about the law of scarcity?
This is actually the most likely scenario — and a very smart marketing strategy by Facebook.
So, what is the law of scarcity?
The law of scarcity states that if what you desire is in limited supply or seemingly limited supply, its perceived value increases. This also increases the urge for people to want it and want it immediately.
Marketers use the law of scarcity often as a way to increase sales. Ever go into a store and they’re having a sale on bottles of Coke, but you can only buy 2 at the sale price. The retailer is using the law of scarcity as part of their marketing strategy. When told you can only have 2, you immediately want more than 2, even if you normally only buy 1 at a time.
Why is Facebook using the Law of Scarcity as part of its marketing strategy? There are several possible explanations. Facebook might be using the law of scarcity to make a Facebook email appear very valuable. This perceived scarcity will encourage users who were initially skeptical of Facebook email to desire it — to demand it even. Users who vowed to keep their gmail accounts might be encouraged to re-think this decisions when kept waiting for their @facebook.com email account. Soon users will be clamoring for a facebook email and the media frenzy will start all over again. And Facebook is very media savvy. They know just what to do to keep the Facebook name and brand in traditional and social media.
Another reason Facebook might be using the law of scarcity is the self image created when users finally get their @facebook.com email address. It will be like a badge showing they’ve MADE IT! They’re someone because Facebook gave them one of the coveted email addresses. They’ll be grateful for a beneficent Facebook that gave them a Facebook email account. Facebook takes on a mystical quality as the knight in shining armor who saved the user from the indignity of being the last of their friends to get an @facebook.com.
Finally, after waiting so long to get an @facebook.com, users will be dying to use it — to show all their friends they are one of the chosen. They want their friends to know they are special and anointed by Facebook for this special honor. Users spread the Facebook brand every time they use their new facebook email. It also makes them less likely to complain about the performance of Facebook email. So, it looses some emails — no problem. So, Facebook email is nothing special — we’ll never admit it. Just as no one pointed out that the Emperor was really naked, not wearing lovely clothing, no one will want to point out the shortcomings of the Facebook email they desired so fervently.
Adopting Facebook’s Marketing Strategy for your business
There are lots of lessons to be learned from Facebook’s marketing strategy. But beware, these strategies work best when the product is something used in public — something people can show off. It still works when its a private product, but without the added bonus of being a validation of self as with a public product.
- Create demand for your product — ie. Facebook’s rumors of an email application were the worst kept secret in the business. By holding off on the formal press conference, however, they created buzz which drove demand.
- Only let some people have your product. If everyone can have it, they won’t feel special getting it and they won’t attach the same value to the product. Scarcity breeds desire.
- Make sure that celebrities, influentials, and other high profile individuals get the product first. This increases the allure of the brand and its exclusiveness.
- Now dribble out product like its gold.