By Missy Sheehan
Successfully launching a new product or service in today’s market can be tough. With ever-increasing demands on our attention, from blaring television and radio commercials to billboards and website ads, it can be hard to make sure your business’s voice is heard through the seemingly endless stream of marketing messages that consumers are bombarded with every day.
The good news is that you can use social media to help you break through all that noise and make sure your company’s message reaches its target audience. In fact, social media can play a valuable role in a product or service launch campaign, though it should be cast as a supporting character rather than as the star performer, advises Joan Schneider in an article for Harvard Business Review.
With the right know-how and a bit of planning and forethought, you can use social media as an integral part of a launch campaign to drive interest in your new product or service and inspire a sense of anticipation and loyalty in your potential customers. Read on for a few tips.
If you want the launch of your new product or service to be successful, the first step is to publicize it—and start early, recommends David Lavenda in an article for Fast Company. “Start your outreach activities 6-8 weeks before the official launch date and then keep the news going up to, and beyond the official launch date,” he advises.
Announce the impending launch on all your social media channels, but don’t give too much information at first. Drop hints about the launch and what your fans can expect from your new product or service. And then tell them when they can expect additional information to keep them coming back for more.
Continue building excitement by posting regular updates about the product. “Use hashtags to create, ignite, and track the conversation on social media,” recommends Schneider. “Hashtags are essential to follow chatter surrounding a campaign.” Develop your own unique and memorable hashtag to use throughout the campaign to make it easier for fans to follow and join the conversation.
While you’ll build excitement by offering teasers about your new product or service throughout your campaign, release even more details about it to your fans as you get closer to the launch date to really ramp up their excitement. Post behind-the-scenes photos or how-to videos, for instance. Lavenda suggests offering free trials, downloads, product videos, and demos to make it easy for people to learn more.
Get Fans Involved
As proven by the many big-name brands that have used this strategy successfully on social media, your business’s fans and customers can be a powerful tool to help you create buzz about your new product or service if you make an effort to reach out to them. Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest, which invites fans to submit ideas for potato chip flavor combinations via channels like Facebook or Twitter for a chance to win a $1 million grand prize, is one of the most recent and well-known examples of this tactic being used successfully. By getting fans involved directly in the contest—by both inviting them to submit ideas and asking them to vote to decide the winning flavors—Lay’s is creating excitement about the brand. And fans are eager to participate in the contest and spread the word because they have a say in the outcome.
Hosting a contest can be an effective way for a business of any size to inspire interest in a new product or service. Giving fans the chance to win something on social media drives and engagement and inspires loyalty from fans, according to Schneider. “New product launches lend themselves perfectly to these contests, because brands can use product samples as giveaways to entice consumers to try before they buy,” she writes.
Make Meaningful Connections
Social media is all about connecting with others, but unless you’re targeting a mass audience, Lavenda advises not to focus on the number of likes or followers your page may attract leading up to a product or service launch. “Rather, use these social channels for more meaningful engagement,” he writes. “See who is talking about your offering online and then make contact with them. See how these folks can help you further promote your offering within their social circles.” You can find a gold mine of potential customers within your particular niche by using this method.
Also consider reaching out to local bloggers for product reviews prior to your launch date. Reviews from an objective, trustworthy source can be immensely helpful when it comes to showing your fans what they can expect from the product before they buy it. “Bloggers are key influencers when it comes to launching new products, as their loyal followers want to try recommended products,” Schneider writes. And many bloggers will gladly write a review about a product if you send them a sample.
Put these tips into action next time you launch a new product or service to make sure it gets the attention it deserves, but remember, social media shouldn’t be the only area you focus your efforts on. Make it a key part of your overall launch strategy for best results.