One of the most exciting milestones that can be achieved by any business owner or retailer is a product or service launch. It marks the fruit of all the hard work that had been done. A launch, however, can also be one of the most terrifying, stressful, and expensive projects that you, as a business owner, will ever have to take on.
So why not do it via social media?
Traditionally, product launches feature a mix of advertising and PR efforts, pushed by a huge corporate event, media banquet, or some kind of conference. Yes, these still work. But what if you ran a business that was Internet-based? What if a great deal of Internet usage is critical in your day-to-day operations? What if you want to test the waters of Web 2.0 and use social media as your platform for launching a product or service?
Don’t think it’s not possible. While many perceive social media as something that only slowly, steadily supports your other marketing efforts, it can actually be leveraged to launch your product or service. In fact, if you’re selling something exclusively online, you may do well in focusing more on social media platforms than on traditional marketing practices, like big ad placements or PR campaigns. Or your social media launch may be tied in with your offline one.
Only, you have to execute your launch campaign just as aggressively in social media. You may even have to unleash everything all at once. Think you have the right resources and the dedication to do the job? Here’s a checklist to ensure that you leave no stone unturned.
Your delivery stream this time is going to be through the world of social media, but that doesn’t mean you should compromise the quality of your content. Write a press release about your product, and don’t worry in the meantime about things like SEO and keywords. Make sure you include all the important information – like official launch date, product features, highlights, pricing, contact information, etc. – and include a quote or two from your top executives.
This list should include print media (and TV and radio, too, if you like), news wires, online journalists, and even bloggers. The more influential these people are, the more chances you have of being able to spread the buzz about your new product or service. Of course, make sure their “beat” or field is actually relevant to the industry to which you belong. And don’t forget your affiliates. Encourage them to blog or post about your product and promote it to their audiences. This will help you gain more exposure in social sites and networks other than your own.
Official launch website, page, or post
You will need this as a kind of reference point for those who would like to find out more about the product you’re launching. It can be a simple website, a Facebook event, a Tumblr blog, or a new page on your official company website. Like the press release, it should contain all the information that the media and you potential customers might want to know. If you think you need to put up an FAQ, or a customer reviews section, post it on this page, along with product-related pictures, videos, and multimedia. Also, if you’re selling the new product online, make sure that this official page will include a link to where people can order.
Sure, it’s not a traditional event. But if you can get a lot of Facebook users to respond positively to your RSVP invite, then you’re going to be in a great position to make some noise for your product. Your wall can also serve as a feedback loop so you can engage more effectively with your online audience. One way of making a Facebook launch more exciting to attendees will be to come up with special deals, contests, or offers for those who click “Yes, I will attend”.
Videos on YouTube (or Vimeo) can generate plenty of buzz for any kind of product. So use these rich multimedia content platforms to show people what you have to offer. It can be a quick product demo (don’t let it run for more than five minutes, though), a teaser trailer, or a “vision video” in which you and your team explain the story behind the new service or product. Do you have a TV commercial for the product? Put it out there on your channel as well. For more tips on how to achieve viral video success, check out previous posts on the subject here and here.
Launch and promote your product in bite-sized tweets – complete, of course, with links to your official page or to related blog posts, pages, or news by you and the media. The Twitter account – like your Facebook wall – can also be used as a feedback loop, where you can answer queries or address customer concerns and announce special offers and discounts. Be creative. It may be just one product you’re launching, but find various angles that will make it look sexier and worth sharing.
Direct E-mail can hit targets you may not otherwise be able to hit via social networks. So seize the opportunity to engage with the people in your mailing list. One E-mail can contain all the relevant links to your content and your social media channels. Be sure to encourage recipients to visit your Twitter page, your Facebook event, your YouTube channel, or your official blog. Then provide the information that they need to gain access to privileges and special offers.
Social media is about sharing and engagement. Don’t think of each channel as a stand-alone. On your Facebook wall, add the videos that you have posted on YouTube. On your YouTube channel, insert links that will lead viewers to your Twitter feed. Then use Twitter to cross-promote content in all your other social media channels. Of course, remember to always include the link to your official product or launch page.
You don’t want to put up a weather station to measure yesterday’s weather, which is why – before proceeding with anything related to the campaign – you’ve got to set up a tool, or tools, that will measure your online marketing efforts. Use analytics tools to measure and track Twitter sentiment, shortened links, views, re-tweets, conversations and bookmarks, subscriptions, conversions, impressions, and page traffic, among many others. It goes without saying that these tools will also help you in postmortem and sales analyses.