How do I launch my webapp?
February 9, 2011 4:39 PM   Subscribe

How to launch a webapp that derives its value from a community when it has no community?

I'm nearing release on a webapp I've been working on for a while. It has a community aspect, though the app is more than just a community.

When it has a community the app will be easier to disseminate and will be more clearly valuable, but I can't pull a community out of my hat. This is a chicken and egg scenario that I'm sure has been overcome many times, but to the best of my knowledge, no one who's managed the trick is talking about it. How does one launch these kinds of apps? How did flickr get started?

And of course I will share it on mefi projects when its ready, but I'd like to have at least a few strategies beyond that.
posted by tempythethird to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
That's what invitation-only beta periods tend to be for.
posted by Memo at 4:59 PM on February 9, 2011

Start posting images to dribbble and forrst if you are a member of either. You want to start generating interest before it is released. A form to sign up for beta testers would make sense too.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:08 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: An invitation-only beta period is exactly what I'm doing right now, and have been doing for the last few weeks. I've got all my willing friends and their willing friends in it, but how to spread it beyond that core is eluding me, especially considering the fact that my social circle doesn't really line up with my target audience.
posted by tempythethird at 5:10 PM on February 9, 2011

Response by poster: I've spent many a mournful moment standing outside of dribbble and forrst, with my hands wrapped around the closed wrought-iron gates, thinking "how wonderful it looks in there."
posted by tempythethird at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2011

Best answer: Do you have an advertising budget? Invite-only betas are only part of the equation. Make some nice banner ads (since this is to generate awareness) and start advertising on the Google content network (assuming you or someone knows how to do that reasonably well, otherwise you'll waste your money).

Message something about a limited time beta invite to try the new service. Make it sound exclusive, make it look sexy. Your user-base will grow and when its ready to launch, make sure they have all the social opportunities available to get this spreading.

I do this for a living--this isn't a pitch for business, but if you have more specific questions feel free to shoot me a MeMail and I'd be more than happy to offer some more (totally free) detailed advice. Maybe you can hook me up with a beta invite too ;)
posted by Elminster24 at 7:40 PM on February 9, 2011

Set up a bunch of fake user accounts under different names, and then sit there and have online conversations with yourself. If your site takes off before you lose your mind, you win!
posted by spilon at 8:28 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Post it on metafilter projects. If it's good, chances are, someone will FPP it eventually.
posted by empath at 5:34 AM on February 10, 2011

Sorry, no invites for either Dribbble or Forrst. Mike, from the Forrst Podcast, sometimes solicits emails from listeners who are interested in a membership. That's how I ended up with mine. Might be worth considering emailing him and begging/pleading. I think he asked for a few links of previous work.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:47 AM on February 10, 2011

Response by poster: I'll check out the podcast, thanks for the tip!
posted by tempythethird at 6:11 AM on February 10, 2011

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