Once and for all: A beta test isn’t enough to create buzz


It’s old news, it really is. But since I get confronted with invitations to beta tests everyday (in my role as a blogger, as a freelance consultant and as project lead for German blog magazine blogpiloten.de), I can promise you that a lot of PR agencies still think a beta test is enough to get bloggers to write about your product, and thus to create buzz. It isn’t. Period.

Beta tests are important. If you’re a bootstrapping web startup, you need to release early and release often. In order to to that, you need constant feedback from your users. Potential users (and testers) are most easily identified by their blogs, so inviting bloggers to your beta test makes a lot of sense.

That said, inviting bloggers to test your stuff just to get their attention and save money on marketing is a really, really bad idea. If you don’t allow for the feedback they’re willing to give, you’re being unfair, both to these bloggers and to your product. Whatever it is you’re developing, it’s not perfect. It cannot be perfect. So you’ll need that feedback, simple as that. Open feedback channels very early in the production phase. Post-launch is too late. Pretending to bloggers (who you should be trying to make your fans) that they have any influence that they don’t really have will almost certainly backfire, and badly so.

So, where does that leave us?

  1. Identify users who might be seriously interested in what you’re doing, for whatever reason.
  2. Invite them very early on in your production phase, so you can implement their feedback into your product.
  3. Give them feedback, respect, and credit. Lots of all of this. And then some.
  4. Make sure to hook them up with a free version of your product once it’s all set and done. They just put a lot of effort into your product, so you can make money off of it. It’s only fair not to charge them.

Blogger Program: Deutsche Gamestage / Quo Vadis


Deutsche Gamestage / Quo Vadis (@DGQV) is the leading German games developer conference, and when I was asked by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg if I could help out with the blogger program, I was psyched. Now sadly I won’t be in town during the conference, which takes place 21-23 April at Urania in Berlin. However, the program (day 1, day 2) is pretty impressive.

To cut a long story short: There’s two ways to participate in the blogger program. 1, you can get a discounted ticket (€39+tax instead of €249+tax) if you blog about the conference upfront and include the conference banners. Or 2, which I imagine is much more interesting: You can be one of the official bloggers with a free ticket, full access to all areas, and we can talk about a travel stipend to cover some of your travel costs. Of course we’ll do everything we can to provide stable wifi, enough power outlets and a little blogging lounge so you can hack away without any distraction.

If that sounds right for you, please get in touch (peter@thewavingcat.com) and tell me a bit about yourself and why you should be one of the bloggers. I’ll try to hook you up with a ticket.

And since the conference is mostly in German, here’s the German version of the post.

Deutsche Gamestage / Quo Vadis (@DGQV) ist die wichtigste deutsche Games Developer Konferenz. Deshalb habe ich mich auch sehr gefreut, als das Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg gefragt hat, ob ich mit dem Bloggerprogramm aushelfen könnte. Leider werde ich während der Konferenz selbst (21.-23. April in der Urania in Berlin) gar nicht in der Stadt sein, das Programm sieht aber sehr eindrucksvoll aus (Tag 1, Tag 2).

Lange Rede, kurzer Sinn: Es gibt zwei Arten, am Bloggerprogramm teilzunehmen. 1, es gibt ein verbilligtes Ticket (€39+Steuern statt €249+Steuern), wenn du über die Konferenz bloggst und einen Konferenzbanner einbaust. Oder Möglichkeit 2, die wesentlich interessanter sein dürfte: Du kannst offizieller Blogger werden, samt Freiticket, vollem Zugang zu allen Bereichen, und wir können sicher auch noch über ein kleines Reisestipendium nachdenken. Natürlich werden wir alles tun, um ein stabiles Wifi bereitzustellen, genug Strom sowieso, und eine kleine Bloggerlounge, damit du ungestört bloggen kannst.

Falls das klingt, als wäre es das richtige für dich, melde dich (peter@thewavingcat.com) und erzähle mir ein wenig von dir und warum du einer der offiziellen Blogger werden solltest. Ich versuche, dir ein Ticket zu besorgen.

Re:publica 08 #1


So far, I haven’t been able to blog about re:publica 08, Germany’s top blogger & social media conference. Not because it hasn’t been interesting – quite the contrary – but because I ended up chatting with a lot of cool folks. Which is, let’s face it, the main point about this kind of congregations. The conference feels a bit like a class reunion, the social web scene is a bit like a small family.

There’s a few things I found noteworthy and that I’d like to share.

First, if you’d like to follow the panels but can’t be in Berlin, there’s a pretty awesome video livestream by Hobnox.

Second, yesterday’s panel about Journalism vs Blogs sounded kind of yawn, but turned out great. The usual suspects were there: Thomas Knüwer, Mercedes Bunz, Stefan Niggemeier and Johnny Haeusler. Although they all pretty much are on the same side, the discussion got interesting, although of course there wasn’t any real opponent there. Good fun!

Third, brands4friends.de was so nice to sponsor a neat blogger dinner, which was great fun and a good occasion to mingle and to get to know some cool folks. Thanks!

(I’m going to stop numbering my points. Like, now.)

Harvard’s Viktor Mayer-Schönberger gave a talk reminding the audience how important it is for the internet to not just remember, but also to forget. A slow, but very concise talk, a presentation in Lawrence Lessig’s famous minimalistic black and white style, and some great points.

Today, on day two, I’ll be in the panels on PirateBay (which is where I’m sitting right now, typing), as well as Tom Steinberg’s panel on MySociety, as well as the Net Advocacy panel later on.

If you’re around, make sure to say hi!

Also, coordination here works best via Twitter, so feel free to follow me here, I’ll follow you back.

Also, here I’d like to recommend links, blogs and what else I stumbled upon. This list will be updated when new stuff comes up: RechtZweiNull.de (German blog about law and Web 2.0),