Canned messages are lame

I received an invitation to Multiply this week from Christian Crumlish, author of The Power of Many (and, btw, the guy who I met via LinkedIn and Ryze who introduced us to our agent). Here’s what it read:

Personal message from Christian:

orkut is the suck. multiply is probably evil too, but i’m
testing the import feature….

also, canned messages are lame.

how the hell are you?

Yes, he sent this to almost all his Orkut contacts. Yes, it was about the 10th invitation to Multiply I received in a week. But it still made me laugh. It still prompted me to write him and answer that last question (and ask his OK to post this). And I’ve ignored the other 9 invitations.

He’s right… canned messages ARE lame. Right here, right now, I’d like to tell every single social networking site to eliminate the canned messages. I know you think you’re making life easier on your members, but what you’re really doing is killing interest in your sites. Every single time I receive an invitation with the default canned message, unless it’s a close personal friend just going through the mechanics, I file it in the “maybe someday” file (which I usually don’t get around to).

If you’re not willing to take the time to even personalize a message to a small group of people, like Christian did above, why would you expect me to just open up my calendar and contact list to you?

Use invitations as a relationship-building tool. The only way to do that is by personalizing them. Use the canned invitation, and for everyone who’s received an invitation from that site before, you’re actually weakening the relationship, not strengthening it.

We all recognize that we’re using these sites to handle larger numbers of relationships. I still don’t want to be made to feel like a number.