Testing a social app kicks my marketing up a notch

From a user’s perspective, beta tests can be quite fun, exhilarating and fulfilling. While I’ve had my fair share of doing beta tests, almost all of those instances involved testing online entities (public websites or intranets).

Those betas were a necessary part of the many digital marketing projects which I undertook and saw to complete. It felt like work and, well, it was work. And even though I was not exactly part of the team who actually dealt with infrastructure headaches like load-balancing servers or fixing code, my role was equally critical in facilitating flow of feedback and communication between testers and the technical team.

source: http://bwatwood.edublogs.org

I am currently beta testing an awesome social app. And from what I see and sense so far, the creators of this app are doing a fine job keeping the beta test in stealth mode while ensuring a steady incremental build.

(I know, the language of this post is technical. But you’re a modern marketer, so I won’t apologize for that =)

So how does all this make me (or you for that matter) a better marketer? Three things:

Respecting the stealth environment engenders trust and builds no-nonsense credibility

Many misinterpret closed beta tests and typically assume a hidden agenda is being played out, that these small groups are cliquey and too esoteric for any pedestrian user to understand.

While it may look and feel la-di-da from the outside, it’s actually not simple keeping the lid tight while fostering constructive testing. Leaks happen, ‘patches’ to leaks are rolled out, and at times, you just completely lose testers’ attention and interest.

Those who go with the natural flow of development are compelled to abide by the rules. Not just because their bottom dollar’s on the line, but more importantly, because the sense of belonging is overwhelmingly spontaneous enough to instill an unsaid bond of trust. Whether invested from the inside or out, the one common goal towards birthing a unique creation guides them, superseding all motives and intent.

This is the non-obvious stuff of team work rarely fleshed out and appreciated. If it sounds touchy-feely and idealistic, it probably is. But guess what, it’s also the actual glue that binds the random fragments (gushers and haters alike). In the end, all parties win and the swag you get to take with you is the most valued loot bag: credibility.

Hands-on testing of a social app revs up your creative mojo

Closed beta is testing in a box. Ironically, thinking outside the box is the hallmark of creativity—a dominant trait of any marketer worth his or her salt. Anybody can market themselves out of a paper bag, but not everybody can do it creatively.

The most iconic social apps are often ones that have worked very hard at distilling elements that both (i) embody a distinct modus operandi  as well as (ii) secure functionalities that are self-evolving.

Wait, what—? Come on Tex, keep up 😉

Self-evolving functionalities (this may or may not be an official term, but semantically it works for me):  features in any given app that are designed to easily scale (adjust, change, evolve) according to users’ needs. If a corporate marketer were to ask you, “but what is the value proposition?” you’d point them to this.

source: http://threadless.com

While beta testing this social app—note how I’ve steered clearly away from even mentioning anything about it—I was noticing how quickly ideas popped into my head. So much so that generating these ideas become somewhat of an addictive endeavour, since the app beckons you to play with multiple mediums and manners of expression.

Experiencing the raw science of social behaviour sharpens your decision making skills

You remember Twitter, right? Of course you do. You were probably just tweeting something when you came across this random post.

Now go back to the time when you first started using Twitter. Remember? You were all like, “I don’t get it .. It’s like a bulletin board .. wish I could like tweets .. check out, how funny, witty, snarky I can be, hashtag hashtag, etc ..” It was a torrent of random tapping that flooded timelines and almost got you killed while crossing the street. Right?

It’s very easy to speak your mind. Whether or not others care what your mind shares is another story. Beta testing is a great space to observe the predictability of patterns in behaviour—behavioural tendencies which are revealed in how and what users choose to share as content. And over the course of the testing period, you yourself also begin to notice how your mind starts to employ filters.

Conscious or not, this type of reaction is what helps harness your ability to thoroughly assess situations, weigh all known facts to arrive at a balanced perspective, and exercise good judgment to make the call.

Now, these thoughts and observations don’t just apply to marketers. You can be practicing any profession and still notice a difference in how you look at things, especially in the way you conduct yourself to achieve goals.

Are you part of a beta test now? What’s YOUR experience been like?

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