When you’re launching a product, a common step is to invite your friends and family into the beta. Often times, it’s not just an invite. It requires multiple emails, Facebook messages, and invitations to “like” your product or company’s page on Facebook.
I recently stumbled across some old messages I’d sent to friends and family for products I’ve previously worked on. Frankly, I was embarrassed at how desperate the messages sounded. What in the world was I thinking when I hit send on those messages? It sounded like a telemarketer trying to fill a quota.
I’ve changed my mind about the friends and family launch strategy.
The problem I see with the friends and family launch strategy is that your friends and family are most likely not who the product was initially built for. So can you really expect a conversion by inviting people to use your product when the product wasn’t built for them?
The friends and family launch strategy feels like a copout. Of course, every launch can use a little kickstart of users. But, those users shouldn’t just come from your address book. Those users should be well curated individuals whom you have gotten to know through some means — social media, online forums, user interviews, or something else.
The biggest risk with relying on friends and family is that you won’t get honest feedback. Your friends and family will have a hard time telling you if they don’t understand your product and if they are not excited about how that product can fit into their lives.
A few months ago, I was visiting a friend of mine and she asked me how one of my former companies was doing, and then she said “I’m glad you don’t work there anymore because I didn’t understand the point of it, but I signed up because you asked me to”. I’ll always remember that moment as hopefully it serves as a reminder to consider whether my friends and family should really qualify as an early user on the products I work on.
Have you had friends invite you to an early release of their product? Did you reluctantly join just because they asked you? What type of feedback did you give them? Or, are you an entrepreneur who’s invited friends and family in the past? I’m curious to hear your thoughts and ideas on this topic.