Thursday, August 08, 2013

Test driving beta opportunities: Why communicators should

I volunteer to beta test all sorts of social apps and services--Tweetdeck and Pinterest are two favorites whose potential I could see even in the beta stages--because my clients want me to sort out the options for them. But there are plenty of other reasons a communications professional should consider beta testing, from better media relations savvy to the chance to improve your productivity.

Most important, in my view: Getting in the habit of beta testing gets you ready for changes, new features, and new ideas. Instead of bemoaning a small design change on Facebook, you can smile knowing what's coming next. It's a selling point when you're seeking advancement or new opportunities, and it's a smart way to stay a step ahead. You also may get direct contact with the creators. I've had tech support from the founders of Tweetdeck when it was in beta, and just yesterday, from the co-founder of Feedly Pro. Here are a few more substantial ways I think communicators can benefit from betas:
How to become a beta tester? Put your hand up and volunteer. Many apps, services, sites and gadgets need willing testers, and while you may need to wait, just keep entering those opportunities. Google "seeking beta testers" and you'll find opportunities like this one from Infoactive, where "you can connect dynamic data streams and share drool-worthy interactive visuals." And don't forget, these are beta tests, so you may not enjoy full functionality--that's why you're testing. While you're on these sites, take the time to subscribe to their blogs for more product updates. What are you beta testing?

I've got two smart workshops for communicators this fall, and you get good discounts if you register this month for Be an Expert on Working with Experts on October 8, or The Keys to Confident Public Speaking on October 17. Join us and register today!

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