02 Feb Pre-Product Launch Social Media: Worth It?

We don't have a product yet--should we be on social media?

It's a question we hear a lot: Our product is months away from launch--should we already be active on social media? What can we post?

When you have a startup, publicizing your product early is essential. You need to start building your brand as soon as you know you will have a product to launch. Customers need time to get to know your brand, build trust with your product, and start to see the value in your offering. Getting to the stage where prospective customers know, like, and trust your brand takes time. Building buzz takes time. If you wait until after your product is on the shelves or in your ecommerce site, you've waited too long.

There are many reasons why pre-product launch social media is key:

  1. Building a launch list: social media should ideally drive customers to a pre-launch landing page where customers can opt in to be notified when your offering is ready. This can help you identify strong prospects before you launch, so you have more potential customers lined up than you'd achieve via word of mouth alone. (Wondering about how to keep them engaged as they wait for your product? Stay tuned for my next post on pre-launch email marketing).
  2. Building relationships: Having a robust social media presence before you launch isn't just about getting customers. It will also help you build the life's blood of a good product launch: relationships. With good social, you can engage influencers, media, and potential partners, to name a few.
  3. Building brand equity: It's a crowded marketplace, consumers are savvy. They need to know a new brand has depth behind it: a committed team, good testimonials, a product line that's reliable and growing. The longer your social media presence is around, the more your brand will gain recognition. It goes back to trust. Would you buy from a brand that joined Instagram last week and has one post? Probably not! Building your brand before you have something to sell shows consumers you are committed to your market.

"Sure," you say, "we get that we need to be on social media as early as possible. But what do we talk about, when we have no products?"

Product Launch Social Media Goes Beyond Your Product

The answer is simple: you shouldn't be talking mainly about your products. Not now, not after you launch, not once you're a billion-dollar business. Real social media success is about providing value. It's about giving your customers information they enjoy: it's informational, it's entertaining, it's worth their time to read or watch. Product promotions seldom fit this bill. Once you launch your product, of course you will want to promote it. For product launch social media to be successful, though, it needs to follow the same principles of inbound marketing that any social media campaign follows:

  1. Follow the Rule of Thirds or the 80/20 Rule: One rule of holds that 80% of your social media posts, always, should be non-promotional in nature. Another rule, the Rule of Thirds, is a bit more promotional, saying that 1/3 of your posts should be about your product, while the remaining 2/3 should be divided between content curation and interacting with followers. In other words, talk the least about your product. Talk more about your users' interests--and to your users.
  2. Show Your Personality: Social media is about being social, we hear all the time. That means letting your brand's personality shine.
  3. Be useful: Bring content to your readers that makes their day better. It can be an inspirational quote, a useful recipe, a tech tip--anything of value you can offer that helps them.

So What Do You Write for Pre-Product Launch Social Media?

So what can a new brand post on social during this critical pre-product launch period? The options abound:

  1. Customer Discovery: Ideally, your customer discovery interviews should be face-to-face. You can get questions to use in your discovery through engaging on social media. Invite questions and suggestions about your product. Test the market. Listen closely for customer needs in your questions, DMs, and retweets.
  2. Behind-the-Scenes: Build anticipation and transparency with your customers by showing them your product launch process. Show yourselves mixing formulas, testing code, doing UX research. It will bring them along on the product launch journey. They will feel ownership of your brand, which is what you want. And who knows, you might just uncover new partnerships or ideas. Product launch social media is about more than gaining customers; it's about company-building, too.
  3. Content Curation: Got a favorite industry blogger? Reading some tips? Seen some how-to videos you love? Take a look at your customer personas (you've built your personas, right?). Would any of those ideal customers want to have the same information? Then, share it with them! Your pre-product launch social media can have up to 80% curation. That proportion can help grow your following. Remember to tag every brand or influencer whose content you share. Use ample hashtags--3-5 per post.
  4. Values-Sharing: People do business with values, not just things. Articulate your values and build your brand family--the loyal customers who truly "get" your brand. You can do that by sharing the things you value. Whether it's a fundraiser for a cause you support, a quote on the wall of your office that keeps you going even when the going is tough, or words of wisdom from your team, those values-based words and actions define you. Be willing to share those cherished values with your audience. They will connect with your brand in a lasting way.

It's very doable to build a pre-product launch social media plan that works for your brand: B2C, B2B, you can bring prospects behind the scenes, curate content that builds your community, and communicate your values. Then, when you launch your product, your customers will know all about you. The world will be ready for your innovation--and that can lead to a more successful product launch.

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