With the number of social media users constantly on the rise, social platforms are among the top marketing channels for businesses. In fact, Statista predicts that the number of people on social media will reach around 2.55 billion by 2018. This makes social media an excellent channel for building brand visibility and getting your message across to the maximum number of people. But how do you make use of this fact when you’re launching a new product? Here, you’ll get some actionable advice to guide you as you develop a product launch strategy that makes the most of social media.

As you’re probably aware, launching a product takes time and effort. So you’ll need to get started early and create a product launch strategy well ahead of the launch date. It’s best to start with a checklist that will guide your every move and ensure that you don’t forget anything. Here’s how you can get started:

#1. Choose the Right Social Media Platform

Take a look at your target audience. What kind of content interests them and which social media platform are they most likely to use? For instance, Facebook would be great for reaching a wide variety of segments using one post. It’s an effective platform for encouraging dialog between brands and their customer base. On the other hand, Twitter could be ideal to provide quick info and company news to your target audience.

Many factors such as age, gender, and income level should be considered when deciding what kind of platform to use. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 72% of American adults online use Facebook. They also found that 77% of women online and 66% of men online use Facebook as well as a large percentage (82%) of online adults between the ages of 18 and 29. So it could serve as an excellent platform to reach out to young adults.

Choose the right platform - product launch success
If you’re targeting middle-aged professionals, LinkedIn could be your best bet as it is popular with people between 30 and 49 years of age. So you see that there are a number of reasons why you need to carefully choose a social media platform. You need something that will allow you to reach out to your target demographic while providing you with a setting that supports your promotional strategy.

#2. Create a Unique Hashtag

Make it easier for people to track conversations about your new product using social media. Come up with a unique hashtag related to the launch. You can then encourage fans to share their thoughts and opinions about the product. This way, you’re engaging people and creating buzz about your product at the same time. In fact, Twitter reports that hashtags can boost engagement by 16%.

Take for example how Wendy’s promoted the launch of their Pretzel Bacon Burger with the #PretzelLoveSongs hashtag. They invited fans to use the tag and share their thoughts about their new product. The hashtag managed to drive a lot of engagement for the product launch. Wendy’s experienced a 31% stock increase with 7.5 million Facebook views and 1.7 billion overall media impressions as a result of the campaign.

Create a unique hashtag - product launch

#3. Launch a Teaser Campaign

Social media platforms enable you to successfully launch a teaser campaign for your new product. Imagine this: You get a call from a friend telling you that she’s got amazing news but she’ll only tell you in person. The excitement in her voice and having to wait to find out what’s going on makes you excited with anticipation for your meeting and wonder what the amazing news might be. The same applies when it comes to product launches.

Tell people that something exciting is coming but don’t tell them exactly what it is. Give them fragments of information at a time so that fans are engaged and intrigued about the product. The idea is to build awareness that will lead up to the product launch.

A good example is how Renault launched the #UndressnewTwingo campaign in 2014. The first stage of the campaign involved giving fans the idea that something was coming up by introducing the new hashtag. This activated interest in fans and encouraged people to Tweet about this hashtag. As the number of Tweets including the tag increased, the company slowly unveiled their new car.

Launch a teaser campaign - Renault Campaign
The product website received around 45,000 visits within just a few hours after introducing the tag. Additionally, there were about 4,000 Tweets about the product during the 1.5 hour pre-reveal event.

#4. Launch a Contest

Contests are a great way for brands to harness customer loyalty and build engagement around their products. Social media platforms provide an excellent channel for contests. When it comes to a product launch, you can launch a social media contest to create hype around the new product. A lot of fans will want to spread the word, especially if doing so will increase their chances of winning. However, make sure you read up on the social media contest rules and regulations before you get started.

Cosmetic brand, Urban Decay pulled this off perfectly by launching a contest on Pinterest. Note how they made use of a platform that attracts a high number of users in their audience base – female teens and young adults. The competition was designed to promote their “Electric” collection and invited users to create a pin board titled “Electric Festival Style with UD.” The reward? Two tickets to the Coachella music festival. As you probably already know, Coachella tickets sell out in a flash.

Launch a contest - social media
The brand managed to gain 51,000 Pinterest followers just from this campaign. There are two main reasons why this contest was such a success. First of all, they made it easy for users to enter the contest. A complicated entry process might throw off your fans and might damage your chances of success. The second reason was the “golden” prize, which fans found valuable and which was next to impossible to get anywhere else.

#5. Get Fans Involved in the Creation Process

The whole point of creating a product is to get people to buy it. So you’ll want to build something that people will want to buy. An excellent way to do this is by giving them some level of control during product creation. Social media is a great way to get fans involved in the process of creating your next product. You can invite ideas and suggestions or even have people vote for different features.

An excellent example of this tactic is Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign, which invited fans to come up with a unique new flavor. The winner walked away with $1 million. As you can see, they combined the strategy of getting fans involved in the creation process with a contest, so their campaign had double the impact. The winning flavor later became available for purchase in stores. They built hype around a new product and engaged fans throughout the creation process.

Get fans involved in the creation process - Do us a flavor

#6. Show Them What’s Going On Behind the Scenes

Social media is also an excellent channel to update fans on what’s going on behind the scenes. People can get updates on what your team is doing or how the product is made. Give them an update whenever you make progress, so you engage them along the way and keep them on the hook until the day of your product launch. Be sure to include interesting and captivating visuals like photos and short videos.

Say you’re launching an eco-friendly line of clothing. You can post a short video capturing the process of how a certain material came to be. Fans might love to see how the organic cotton you use was farmed. Or you can show them how you repurpose plastic bottles to make your shoes. For non-physical products, sharing behind-the-scenes photos, videos, and stories about your team and your new product’s development can be a great way to pull this off.

Show them what’s behind the scenes - Samsung
Samsung hosted an #Unpacked party for the release of their latest Galaxy phones. During the event, Samsung kept their social media followers engaged in the product launch festivities by showing them what was going on behind the scenes. They even uploaded an entire “Making Of” album to Facebook as part of the product launch. If you’re planning a physical event for your new product launch, make sure you also keep your fans who can’t be there updated and engaged via your social media channels.

Launching a new product is a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time. Make sure your product launch is successful by implementing the six social media marketing strategies above.

Have you ever used social media for a product launch? What worked? What didn’t? Please share your story in the comments below.

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