Google has done it again! Their recent Google+ recruitment tactic has gone viral. In just two weeks, Google+ has gone from an invite-only field trial to a social network about to surpass 10 million users. There is speculation that users could reach 20 million soon. Google+ has managed to create this hugely successful viral marketing campaign, but I would argue that it’s more about the exclusivity of membership than the product itself.

For those of you who haven’t been invited to this “Super Cool Kids Only” club, here’s a little background. Google+ is a social networking site that is meant to incorporate all the best elements of Facebook and Twitter, but with added features exclusive to Google. Here are a few of the Google+ specific features:

  • Instead of a News Feed or Wall, you have one Stream where you see your updates and those of your friends.  Like Twitter, you can follow someone who you’re not necessarily friends with and read and comment on their statuses.
  • You can create Circles that are groups of your friends and family. Each time you post a status, picture, video, link, etc., you can choose which circles can see your post.


  • Sparks enables you to type in things you are interested in, so any posts about that particular subject will show up in your stream.

The two features that are getting the most buzz are Hangouts and Huddles.

  • Hangouts is a video conferencing feature that allows you to video chat with multiple users. It has a built in type chat feature to share links, and you can also post a video and watch it simultaneously.
  • Huddle is a feature of Google+ for mobile, which allows you to have a chat room with several users rather than just one at a time.

By keeping membership exclusive, Google has evoked an enormous buzz around Google+. One by one, bloggers in the industry began announcing they were finally “in” – making those without an invitation even more eager to get their hands on one. The idea of receiving an invitation quickly developed into a sense of entitlement, especially in the marketing community. Receiving an invite before your peers makes gives you a sense of superiority. But how long will the sensation last?

While 20 million users is still a far cry from Facebook’s estimated 700 million, the rate at which Google achieved success early on is admirable. Whether interest will continue to grow or wane once the novelty has died remains to be seen.

When I hadn’t received an invite in the first few days, I have to admit I was disappointed. However, now that I am “in” and have passed out my own invites, the newness is fading. For now, I am comfortable sticking with Facebook for social purposes and LinkedIn for business.

How about you?