It might be unknown to many but the majority of all social networks were started by a spamming of some sorts.
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- MySpace used their ResponseBase email marketing list of 100 million+ people to send for first users.
- Facebook spammed all the Harvard email lists to get the first 2,000 users in a day.
- Hi5 used their previous dating site to send a considerable amount of traffic to
- Bebo used their original site BirthdayAlarm.com to have a huge user base to start with.
- Friendster and Orkut, I think started naturally and virally through a very limited invite system.
1- What can you do to get a relevant email list through non-illegal ways? Get more subscribers by asking! Can you create a light weight system to garner targeted users? Consider having a landing-page (view the original Mint landing pages we used to grow a huge email list) and buying ads on Google. Make sure you don’t lose subscribers…there are tips to keeping them.
2- Things don’t happen by magic. You have to light a match to start a fire.