By GREGORY ZELLER //
Bettr late than never.
Originally scheduled to go live in December, Bettr – the social media-management app invented by Hofstra University chums James Knaus and Ashish Pandhi – has finally made its iOS debut.
At least, its public debut: The free-download app that went live Tuesday in the iTunes Store has actually been in play for over a month, an extended invitation-only beta test that helped the creators make Bettr better.
“We already have 500 users,” Knaus told Innovate LI. “We had a lot of people in the beta. We basically launched to a private group, people we thought would be good users and social influencers.”
The co-founders, who began developing a family of social media-management apps in Pandhi’s Hicksville basement almost three years ago, didn’t flip the switch on their latest product as planned in December specifically so they could run the extended field test. Their first two products – Queue+, which allows users to schedule posts to Tumblr accounts and track account statistics, and Archive Poster, a Google Chrome extension that speeds up social media workflow – were already doing well, and they wanted that same slick sheen on their new app, Knaus noted.
“We didn’t make it absolutely beautiful at first, we just made it work,” he said. “Then we made it nice. The vast majority of the tweaking was done during the beta. Mainly, the delay was making sure everything was correct and perfect.”
It was also a chance to improve Bettr’s functionality based directly on user comments. Designed to combine the scheduling and statistical-analysis functions of its predecessors, Bettr was built to do “everything a social media intern would do,” Knaus noted, and as testers gave it a spin, programmers at Bettr’s LaunchPad Mineola office did some user-centric tuning.
“We learned that people really care about the analytics,” Knaus said. “They definitely care about the scheduling, but they really want to know who’s following their account, how many followers they’ve gained, how many they’ve lost, what they’re attracted to.”
So the team brought that data to the forefront, including a function that automatically summarizes daily traffic on the user’s accounts. There was also addition by subtraction, including the removal of a redundant camera function.
“We were really focused on enhancing the things people really love, and if they really didn’t care about another thing, we basically removed it.”
While the just-live version only works with Instagram accounts, Bettr is hard at work on several new releases: An Android app is slated to arrive this summer, according to Knaus, and Bettr apps deigned to schedule and analyze on Twitter and Facebook accounts will follow in 2017.
The company is also preparing to launch a new website that will give users the same Instagram control through their computers and tablets, opening the technology to people “beyond those using iPhones,” Knaus said. The site should debut within a month, he added.
App and website users can choose between a free account, which entitles users to schedule just one post per day, and a $5 monthly membership, which includes unlimited scheduling and “priority support,” according to Knaus.
Meanwhile, Bettr has “no intention” of pulling the plug on its earlier apps, which continue to rack up users and downloads. As of this week, Queue+ had more than 270,000 individual users and Archive Poster had been downloaded over 4 million times.
“We’ve been a little preoccupied with Bettr and Instagram,” Knaus noted. “But we’ve reached out to our users to let them know what we’ve been working on, and to let them know we’re still supporting their apps.
“A lot of them want to be on Instagram anyway,” he added.
The partners and their team – which has grown to five full-timers, Knaus noted, including a marketing director and dedicated iOS and Android programmers – will monitor social media trends closely over the remainder of 2016 to determine which social network will be the next to get its own Bettr app.
Eventually, most networks – including Twitter, Facebook and others – will be included in the technology, Knaus noted. But the order in which they roll out will be determined by “whatever we think has the greatest yield and will make our users happiest,” he said.
It’s an exciting time for the company, according to its cofounder, who said watching the downloads pile up and teaching commercial customers how to improve their social media performance was thrilling, “but honestly, the best part is working with my team.”
“Being around intelligent people who are working their asses off every day, seeing our progression from where we started to the beautiful app and full product we have now … that aspect is definitely the most fun,” Knaus said. “We are very much a team.”