How I validate ideas on Twitter
When I get an idea for a potential new product or service, I'm usually dogfooding and use Birdspotter to see if people are talking about the problem I want to solve by searching for keywords related to the idea.
If they aren't, they probably don't care. The only exception of course is if the idea is really new and no one has heard of it yet. (Which is unlikely.) But even then, I do a quick search with some obvious keywords and make sure that no one is talking about it.
How it works
What I'm looking for are tweets that are relevant to the idea, but where the user can't do what they want to.
The idea validation questions I'm looking to answer are:
- Do people talk about the problem and/ or their pains?
- Do people want to do this?
- Are they willing to pay for it?
- How much would they be willing to pay for it?
- Is there an existing player in the market already doing what I have in mind?
- What would the best free or cheap alternatives be?
If I see enough of these tweets over a certain period of time, then it means there's enough of a need that it's worth building something.
It’s also a good practice to check in on any potential competitors frequently as well. Do people love them? Hate them? Do they have bugs or other issues that I could avoid in my own product?
Checking Birdspotter can also be useful after I've built a product: If people aren't talking about my product using relevant keywords on Twitter, then they probably aren't using my product either (unless they're the type of person who doesn't talk on Twitter much.)
A practical example
For this example, say I want to build something for other indie hackers: a no-code browser extension builder.
I'd go to Birdspotter and search for:
- The keyword "extension"
- The hashtag "nocode"
- Any of "browser", "chrome", "safari", or "firefox"
For starters, the only changes from the default settings would be to filter for a certain language and to increase the number of hashtags.
Then I'd quickly scan the first results to see what people are saying about the topic. If a lot of people are asking questions about it, I can be more confident that there is demand. On the flip side, if no one is talking about it, then maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree.
And depending on the results, there's a lot of room for improvement:
- Is the hashtag "nocode" any good? Maybe the phrase "no-code" is used more often?
- Turn down the allowed number of hashtags? More than 2 or 3 are usually an indicator of marketing spam.
- What is more of interest: original tweets or replies? If replies and therefore discussions are of no value, filter them out.
- Are specific accounts posting the same marketing material regularly? Filter them out.
Refining your search gradually is generally a good idea if you're watching a topic over a certain period of time. Or if your idea is so niche that relevant tweets don't show up very often.
I find that searching on Twitter for keywords related to a problem helps me quickly validate an idea. I'm able to get a feel for what people discuss, and it lets me see if the problem is worth solving. I could even contact people and conduct interviews with them to get a better understanding of their pain points and how to solve them.
In many cases, Birdspotter will give you a good idea of whether it's worth investigating further, especially if there's a decent amount of chatter related to the problem. It's not a guarantee by any means, but it can at least help to validate some initial assumptions on whether your idea has merit and could be worth pursuing.Back to blog