Venereal Marketing

Well I’ve had my Gmail account for a few weeks and the novelty has worn off. I no longer feel special or elite, especially since Google started flooding the market with invites (I got 12 in my first week… all gone, don’t ask). Of course now they’ve apparently shut off the tap so the masses are thronging once again. Keith asked what’s the big deal and Richard answered, hitting the nail thoroughly on the head.

Basically, Gmail is a big deal because it’s hard to get. Not many people have it, so of course everyone wants it. Gold and diamonds are valuable because they’re rare, their usefulness is secondary. Just imagine if all the diamonds in the world were controled by a select group of people and you could only get some if you knew one of them.

It’s a new promotional gimmick that Google has tapped into with great success: social viral marketing. A virus passed through social contacts. Venereal marketing.

The other day a friend invited me to join Orkut, Google’s online social networking system and another adventure in venereal marketing. You can only join if a member invites you, and now everyone wants to join. I’ve been surfing around it for a day or two and honestly I gotta ask “What’s the big deal with Orkut?”

At first glance it seems much like any other online community. Overrun with the same vaccuous inane chatter, shameless self-promotion, flamewars, trolls, spam, ego-stroking and desperate flirtations you can see everywhere else. I’ve joined some web design, CSS, and spam communities, and their forums are rather disappointing. Lots of people shouting for attention but not actually contributing a whole lot.

Maybe it’s just me. Social networking doesn’t work too well when you’re anti-social to begin with. I currently still have only one friend in my network (the one who invited me) and nobody else I know is in the system. I’ve searched around and found the profiles of some bloggers I admire and wouldn’t mind connecting to, but I won’t be lame enough to just invite myself into their networks as a complete stranger.

But hey, I’m in the club, I’m at the cool table in the lunch room, and that’s what really counts. I’m a victim of venereal marketing.

As of this posting, a Google search for the complete phrase “venereal marketing” returns 0 hits, so perhaps I have actually coined a new term. As an interesting test of my memetic powers I’ll be curious to see if the phrase starts popping up elsewhere. Check the date and time of this post folks, I said it first.