It started off, like most trips I take online, in a meandering fashion.
A few weeks back, I’d somehow weaseled my way into an invite for Kyle Bragger’s latest pet project, Streak.ly. It’s a fun & straightforward app that lets you record day-to-day streaks of life’s little mundane goals. Mine was Yoga.
Well, my colleagues could tell you, it’s been a hectic week. And so Yoga fell through the cracks one day after another. Undeterred, dear Streak.ly kept sending me emails to help me remember to record my non existent streaks. I came to realize that I was starting to resent our cheerful, aforementioned application.
So I got on Twitter, to fire off a request to the effect of, “how bout you let me put things on hold?” And now we’re nearing the actual point of this here blog post, because at that moment I noticed the following tweet from @playstreakly:
“totally took a page from the fork.ly playbook and added a way to speed up your chances of an invite. enter your email at streak.ly to see.
6:49 PM Sep 28th via Tweetie for Mac”
Eh? What’s this? An innovative, invite only service that I am not part of. I like food, forks AND version control, no matter how you slice it, this sounds like the place for me. A way to speed up my chances you say? And off to Fork.ly I went, to dutifully supply my email address in the hopes that I could get in on this exclusive club du jour.
The ploy was very clever. But not kosher.
Don’t get me wrong, I signed up out of own silly will. The ploy is still to be revealed: After you sign up, to wait in line, Fork.ly supplies you with a custom URL. Share your URL with three people and get moved up in line. Not to the front, mind you; just up.
Genius. In an untoward sorta way.
The thing is, the un-kosher thing is, that they don’t tell you shit about what Fork.ly’s is. It’s all vague one-liner hype. Like a college, first year bump’n'grind club. Innocent, brash, honest and seedy.
My problem is that they were asking me to share something with my friends, just to move myself up in line, without knowing what I’m supposed to be vouching for. I even did a quick Google. These guys are ghosts. (And of course, by ghosts I mean that I couldn’t figure out who they were in under 45 seconds.)
The golden rule of social media.
Hell forget social media. The golden rule of relationships is: Trust. Online, when relationships and sharing often happen in such a truncated and fast-paced manner, when we find ourselves barreling across the super information seas, we don’t always have the opportunity to explain the nuances of what we’re sharing. This isn’t laziness, it’s the everyday truth of the matter. I mean, look how long it just took me to butter you up, dear reader.
When you’re running a company and dreaming up ways to generate hype, stop and think about what you’re asking of people. Not all viral campaigns are good for those passing around the virus.