Invite-Only: Are Pinterest and G+ the only ones who can pull it off?

Pinterest, Google+, and even Facebook used exclusivity as a way to create buzz around their platform launches. The panelists in this SXSW Interactive session all successfully used invite-only private beta launches for their startups and were willing to share some of their lessons learned.

pinterest, google+, invite-only

Benefits of an invite-only beta launch:

– Exclusivity

– Ability to fix bugs

– Users have a higher tolerance for crashes

Tips for launching invite-only:

– Add incentives to invites like unlocking content or a message from a friend

– Users have a “try before you buy” mentality so use social logins which require less private info to register/log in

– Metrics to watch before going public: crashes per user hours, retention rate

– Once you go public, user expectations are much higher and there is no more tolerance for crashes

Case Study: “Hook ’Em Up” Invite

Problem: With traditional beta invites, users get a set of invites but are unsure of which of their friends to send them to.

Solution: Anyone can request an invite to the platform, but it takes a friend to unlock it. This eases the burden of the person holding invites since they can see which friends have already expressed an interest and then “hook them up.”

Bonus Tip: If you launch a new version of your app in the App Store, the reviews reset, removing any negative comments.

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