An open letter to those who use Launchrock

Hey people who are trying to generate interest in an app or program that hasn’t been released yet,

I might be excited to join your announcement and invite list, or I might not be, but I’m really un-excited about your using the Launchrock “viral” invitation request thingy that asks me to promote your as-yet-unexperienced app to my friends (update:…to vie for earlier access to the app.) If I’m not using your app yet, I can’t endorse it to friends. And now that so many new apps are using it, the model is kind of busted to expect I’m supposed to hit up my friends multiple times a month, for each new app request I come across. It feels really impersonal and pro forma at this point. I tried this once or twice (sorry, friends.) I will not do it again.

It’s asking a lot to ask people to share something they haven’t used yet. Few apps will end up really worth it. And the attention and respect my friends grant me has to be more valuable than early access to your app, no matter how great it is.

@Scoutmob, I’m looking at you too. We in Atlanta all already know about you and like you. To see a Tweet or Facebook post multiple times a day from people I know asking me to join Revel via *their* link feels like spam. You’ve created that nuisance by creating this system where invitations are contingent at on how many people we sign up. It’s like affiliate marketing to get into a program that is supposed to be fun, a reward, a benefit for loyal users. It’s too much. Chill it out.

Dave C.


  1. Great feedback. I do agree that Launchrock is out of control. But I do give them credit for operationalizing a social strategy that works.

    Here at Scoutmob we’re just beginning to experiment with ways to recruit new users and have a lot of fun with loyal users. Definitely appreciate your perspective. And my apologies, we really had no idea that it was going to blow up like that this week.

  2. Thanks for coming by, Nicole. I think if there’s a flaw here, it’s going to a competitive rather than cooperative model among your users, who are ostensibly friends and all to a greater or lesser extent, aware of new stuff in the area at a not dissimilar rate. Among your most active fans/users, I don’t think there’s as much of an imbalance in access to info as the Revel program pretends there is. At this point in the evolution of these social spaces, we all can see stuff pretty quickly with very little effort. Marketing has made sure of that – anything that wants to get out for a commercial purpose doesn’t hide, Revel included.

    So the notion that I’m going to “be the guy who tells my friends first” and making entry into a party program contingent on my ability to prove that I think is problematic to start. It also enlists me as an overt marketer for your business, rather than just an organic fan of your service. It feels a little gross.

    It creates this situation where everyone has to play along with that unfun fiction, and even feel in competition with the people they like to hang around with at said parties. In your ideal execution, would I be racing against all my friends, who are also themselves trying to enlist people to get early access? I can see how that can sound like creating a “marketing frenzy” but on the other side of the equation, it feels like you’re using us.

    My opinion is thus: pick early access based on who really have been your loyal supporters, and seed invitations organically with them at the pace you’d like to see interest fielded. That’s authentic, and has to take its sweet time. Or make it old fashioned first-come, first-served. That rewards the quick and motivated. But pitting us all against each other as affiliate marketers for you, and then tracking our hit rate doesn’t feel like a good fit for such an awesome company.

    I know you’ve gotten positive feedback about this program too, but I wonder how much of that is from observers, pundits, friends, and marketers, and not your core, home town users. Cluttering the social space with the same message over and over again is something marketers seem to disregard as a negative impact (RT to win is another great example) – and can unevenly impact the most passionate users of a platform the most.

    Thanks again for stopping by, and for considering what I have to say.

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