We have an idea to do a Social "Stress" app, where people can sign up as strangers and meet someone in their same "stressed" mode, like I was fired by my boss today and I find someone who did as well, and we are both Chatting about it. It'll also bring up some comedy for both of us and will be a "social stress reliever". Now obviously the idea is very 'wild', how do I "Test the waters" to see if this could be of an interest to users?
The best way to do validation on this idea would be to acquire customers through Facebook ads (rich targeting makes you able to cohort users nicely). Then, you could manually pair people via email or through a simple text messaging exchange facilitated by Twilio. In this scenario, you could prompt them to take the actions you think will be at the core of your app's functionality. Observing their engagement rate and what they do with each other would give you some insight into how viable this is.
Happy to talk this through in a call with you. I've helped a lot of clarity members through similar customer development exercises.
Testing your idea thanks to Facebook Ads might be great but I believe there is a better way. In my opinion idea extraction can be done completely for free and you can even get much better results from your research. Here it is what you need to do:
1. You to need to find a way to reach to your niche: through social media (think Facebook, LinkedIn groups, Twitter, etc.) and forums.
2. You connect with individuals directly and ask them about their biggest challenges and issues related to the problem you're solving. You try to find the pain point and then you present the possible solution. You ask about their honest opinion and you will be amazed by what kind of ideas they can give to you.
I can reveal to the whole method to idea validation/extraction that you can use to see if this is the right thing to develop and how you might shift it. Feel free to schedule a call with me if you're interested to learn more.
Here's what I always advise the start-ups that I mentor. Define your system on paper and run it manually in the real world with people that experience the problem you're hoping to solve.
To clarify what that would mean in your case, or how I would run it, would be the following way.
Either in my own offline or online social network (really doesn't matter which network you tap into) I would ask if anyone was fired today, or has recently had a major social stress situation. I'd then ask them to inbox me to say I have a "solution" for them. I would then wait for 2 people to contact me and then pair them up and run the "situation" in the way I had intended.
If you find that this whole thing falls flat on its face, you then have a good idea of how hard it will be to get people to "buy in" to your idea. If you find people approach you, then you know there is some merit.
Ultimately, it all comes down to doing all the "thinking" upfront and then applying it in the real world in a manual fashion. That's your validation.
Feel free to call me if you want me to talk you through it in an exact step by step fashion.
The best way to go is to create a simple landing / squeeze page for your app that can capture the e-mail addresses of the users and then send traffic to that page via Facebook ads and other traffic sources. You can then look at metrics such as click to subscriber conversion rate etc. by calculating the ratio between the total number of visitors to the total number of subscribers. Obviously, it also depends on your landing page quality but don't spend too much of time or money designing it, something simple and to-the-point should work!