We love the joy of shipping new products.

We’re lucky to have the backing of a fantastic community of smart, savvy social media experts.

Today, I’m thrilled to share how we’ll be combining the two!

I’d love to introduce you to the The Buffer Beta Program, our newest product iteration process and “go-to-market machine” for building and launching product here at Buffer!

The beta program will make it easy for us to take our risky product hypotheses from MVP to launch, fueled by the feedback and evangelism of a passionate tester community.

For each product we’re eager to test out, we’ll connect with our Buffer Beta Community, a growing group of early adopters and Buffer users who are keen to share their voice for all of our betas.

 

buffer beta

From MVP to live product: The beta lifecycle

At the earliest stages, the Buffer Beta Community will be the first to see the earliest ideas we have. We’ll lean on customer development best practices and feedback from our community to iterate quickly, leaning on techniques like these to help us build the right things:

  • user calls
  • usability tests
  • surveys
  • research methods

What’s exciting is that we’ll continue conversations well beyond product development and into marketing and launch phases.

Once the product experience feels validated, and once we gear up for a larger user audience, the Buffer Beta Community will help play a key role in evangelizing these experiences within communities, and will help champion the solutions they’ve helped create.

That leads to a fantastic launch experience, as our go-to-market will be driven largely by our community of users 🚀

Buffer beta community lifecycle

Our Beta Community will be in constant communication with the Buffer product teams over a long time horizon, across multiple beta products in the works. It’s like a membership to all of Buffer’s crazy ideas at different stages of their lifecycles, where the community can opt in to experiences of interest and play a huge role.

What we’ve learned from past beta experiences

We’ve leaned on beta programs on a smaller scale, and we’ve seen just how powerful these can be. We’ve discovered that beta users are passionate about participating in many more products, over a longer time and over multiple product lifecycles.

Perhaps more interestingly, we’ve discovered that these early beta testers are the primary evangelists who share our brand and fuel our launches to new levels (well beyond our internal marketing efforts!).

For example, we see that those who drive the conversations on Product Hunt and share the experiences with their audiences are almost always the passionate users who have helped play a role from the beginning. An amazing example of this is with the launch of Pablo, which was posted to Product Hunt by our community without Buffer knowing!

The Buffer Beta Program will help move Buffer’s craziest ideas from MVP to live product, driven by a close feedback loop between the community and the product teams.

We have an amazing history of being customer-driven with what we build here at Buffer. With the launch of the Buffer Beta Program, this feels like a powerful leap forward on this journey. As we explore multiple products and continue to galvanize  community through the Buffer Way, it’s a privilege to help unify our users and product teams in such a powerful way.

I can’t wait to help build this together with our team and amazing community! Here we go!

Where we’re headed next

Thanks to the amazing guidance of our Community and Customer Research teams, we’ll continue to formalize all of the exciting aspects of this program. If you have ideas or suggestions on what works well for a Beta Community and Program of this scale, please share your thoughts via the comment section below.

It’s worth mentioning that in the short term, we’ll continue running some ongoing beta programs with some users, even though they may not be in the official Beta Community. Over time, we’ll navigate towards the Buffer Beta program and move away from our traditional targeted beta campaigns, inviting those past and current participants into the Community.

My hunch is that we’ll begin building the program from two angles:

  1. We’ll continue to grow our Buffer Beta Community with early adopter members, and engage those who have expressed interest in the past in the exciting betas we have in the works.
  2. We’ll identify one beta product in the proper phase of development and degree of risk that can benefit from the Beta. 😃

More reading:

Here are a few resources that have inspired our thoughts around the Buffer Beta Program:

Over to you!

**Note – at this time, we’re so honored that our Beta community is a bit full and we’ve currently closed the community to new signups.**

 

We’re excited to share when this opens back up! In the meantime, there are some other great ways to engage with the Buffer Community, including with our Slack Community and weekly Bufferchats.

pablo (1)

Do you have any experience building Beta Programs or launching products with Betas? We would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!

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Written by Marc Anthony Rosa

Product and Community at Buffer, where I have the privilege to help build products for an incredible community of users. I’m passionate about product design and technology, and a strong advocate for gummy bears. When I’m not thinking about our Buffer products, I’m learning more about product design, Lean Startup methods, emerging tech, and personal growth. You can also find me reading and traveling the globe with my fiancée – there’s so much of the world to discover!

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