Do you know what a successful social media product launch looks like?

If not, now’s the perfect time to figure it out.

Because no matter what you’re selling, recent statistics note that more and more consumers are discovering and researching new products via social.

And it’s no secret why social media is growing as a product discovery channel.

Cost-effective? Check.

Scalable? Double-check.

Tons of creative freedom and ways to reach customers? Yeah, that too.

Even so, product launches represent sort of make-or-break moments. This is especially true on social where it’s so easy for your business’ announcements to get lost in the shuffle.

That’s why it pays to know how to stand out from the crowd. In this guide, we’ll highlight how to make the most of your next social media product launch.

The 6-step social media product launch plan

Listen: we totally understand that launches are stressful by nature.

Because you put energy and effort into your products, right? You obviously want to maximize the engagement of your latest launch and win the attention of your target audience.

Doing so doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ve broken down the process of a product launch on social media into just six steps.

1. Map out your content calendar and pick your launch goals

At a glance, product launches are all about buzz and hype.

However, the importance of putting together a timeline and calendar for your launches really can’t be overstated. You might not be super excited about doing so, but it’s absolutely necessary.

Think about it. When you launch a product, you’re responsible for aligning your social media marketing strategy with other channels and initiatives. Consider the following, just to scratch the surface:

  • Product photos and videos
  • Product descriptions
  • Social captions (think: Facebook, Instagram)
  • Marketing emails
  • Ad copy and call-to-action phrases
  • Landing pages
  • Blog posts
  • SEO
  • In-store events

Whew.

This speaks to the importance of not only putting together a launch timeline but also putting together your marketing creatives well before you launch to make sure your messaging is consistent.

For example, check out this recent email from Uniqlo announcing their latest linen collection.

Whether you're trying to launch a product on social media or email, chances are you're going to use the same creatives

Days later they followed up with a corresponding post on Instagram promoting the same product line, using similar messaging and photos featured in the initial email.

 

Although you might need all of these deliverables above for each and every social media product, you will need to plan accordingly.

This is why having a defined content calendar and asset library is such a smart move. This means you have all of your marketing assets in one place and avoid having to scramble to fill in the gaps during a social launch.

Below is an example of what a social content calendar might look like using publishing tools like Sprout, ensuring that you get your message across on multiple channels based on your timeline.

Sprout publishing calendar

As you map out your content, keep in mind what your goals and KPIs are when promoting new products.

On the hunt for mentions and new followers? Engagement from your community? Direct social sales?

There’s no right answer here, but these types of sample goals will ultimately guide your promotional content strategy.

2. Focus on creating buzz with anticipatory content

Okay, now onto the good stuff!

Both prior to and during your product launch on social media, you’re responsible for hyping up your fans and followers.

Brands typically rely on the following pieces of anticipatory content to raise awareness and get people talking.

“Coming soon” posts

Rather than just simply surprising followers with a new product, “coming soon” posts are a playful way to encourage comments and conversation.

Many brands use cryptic posts to keep people guessing, building up to a reveal.  Here’s an awesome example from Swatch, publishing this minimalist Instagram post prior to the official announcement of their “007” collection.

View this post on Instagram

#SwatchX007 coming soon!

A post shared by Swatch (@swatch) on

Shortly after, they followed up with the big reveal.

Countdown posts

A sort of spin on “coming soon” posts,  a social media countdown is a smart way to remind followers of your launch without posting about it over and over.

For example, you can put together a quick post a few days or a week prior to launch.

Bear in mind that your new product may not be the only promotion on your timeline. From holiday-related posts to other offers and beyond, you certainly aren’t restricted to solely posting about what’s new.

Product preview posts

Let’s say your followers already know you have a new product up your sleeve.

Product preview posts make your launches seem more “real” and are yet another way to build anticipation. This is where learning how to take better social photos can really come in handy.

The idea here is to help followers visualize your product in their hands. Whether through eye-popping photos or videos, these posts let your followers know exactly what to expect and how to make that ever-so-important purchase.

Chocolate Cherry Yeti has a new look. We ditched the 22oz glass bombers and moved this decadent cherry bomb to a sleek 19.2oz can. Now available on draft in our taprooms and in retailers starting Feb. 1.

Posted by Great Divide Brewing Co. on Thursday, January 23, 2020

Giveaway and contest posts

Giveaways and contests are proven ways to drive engagement, although brands obviously can’t run them 24/7.

That said, a new product launch is a great reason to roll one out. Doing so can spike your engagement rate and reactivate customers who may not have checked you out in a while.

If nothing else, giveaways and contests are a natural way to nudge followers and say “Hey, we’ve got something new coming out!”

sm giveaway

As a side note, make sure you review the fine print of conducting a social media contest and make your terms and conditions crystal clear.

Stories and ephemeral content

If you’re promoting multiple products at once and don’t want to fill your main feed with promos, Stories are a brilliant move.

Ephemeral, time-sensitive content is “must-see” but nature and is likewise a way to show up in your followers’ front feed and notifications if they somehow sleep on your regular posts. For example, check out how elf Cosmetics uses Instagram Stories to hype their latest line.

social media product launch 1

 

Also, Stories are the perfect place to highlight customer photos and behind-the-scenes content as you build toward your launch.

social media product launch 2

New product ads

Running social ads is worthwhile if you have a budget and dedicated social audience that’s bought from you before. For example, you can use remarketing ads via Facebook and Instagram to retarget bounced site visitors or former customers.

Facebook ads are a way to introduce your product launch on social media to new and existing, targeted customers

Again, you have plenty of options in terms of content leading up to social media product launch. Any combination of these post types and strategy is fair game for creating buzz.

3. Couple your launch-related posts with a hashtag

Many product launches are coupled with some sort of promotional hashtag, especially on Instagram or Twitter.

The benefits of creating a hashtag are twofold. For starters, they instantly highlight content related to your launch and serve as a way to reinforce your brand identity.

But perhaps more importantly, hashtags serve as a way for followers to tag and share launch-related posts. This includes contest entries and customer photos.

Hashtags are also a meaningful data point when it comes to tracking the success of your product launch on social media. Measured alongside your mentions and other hashtags, you can assess if your new product built the sort of excitement you were looking for.

Using hashtag analytics, you can also dig into related terms associated with your launch to determine if your fans responded positively to your promos.

hashtag analytics

4. Get your customers and community talking

Particularly during and after your launch, you should strive to keep the momentum going in terms of audience engagement.

After all, consider all of the legwork that goes into your launch. That buzz shouldn’t be here today and gone tomorrow.

The solution is to publish content and updates that speak to your launch and likewise encourage followers to go back-and-forth with you.

Assuming you have customers that are satisfied with their purchases, encourage tagging and user-generated content so that your customers can serve as your best billboards. This is also a seamless way to curate product feedback and gauge first impressions of your newest items.

Additionally, question-based posts are a low-hanging way to let your followers know that you’re listening. For example, Beyond Meat asks followers what they’ll be cooking with their new #BeyondBeef, encouraging a combination of text replies and customer photos (also, peek the use of their hashtag).

5. Keep a close eye on your mentions and customer questions

During a product launch, it’s crucial to have all hands on deck when it comes to customer care.

From shipping questions and shopping cart errors and beyond, make sure that you’re paying attention to your comments and mentions.

Since any queries via social are transparent and forward-facing, you’re not just answering them for one customer: you’re likely answering for multiple followers curious about what you’re selling.

 

question reply

Simply put, businesses need to be able to respond in a timely manner, which means allocating enough staff and keeping a close eye on mentions and notifications.

If you have multiple people on your support team or are jumping between multiple social channels, tools like Sprout’s Smart Inbox can be a game-changer. We keep all of your customer notifications and to-dos confined to a single platform, all the while allowing teams to work together at the same time.

assign tasks in the Sprout inbox

6. Set up tracking and analytics to assess your ROI from social media

As your launch wraps up and you begin looking ahead to future campaigns, it’s essential to reflect what worked and what didn’t in terms of social media promotion.

This brings us full circle as you think about your goals and KPIs.

Did your social efforts result in direct sales? Storefront traffic from social? Were your mentions up during your launch?

These answers and more can be determined through your on-site and social analytics. Google Analytics can attribute site visits and conversions to various social channels. Meanwhile, native social analytics and URL tracking can attribute specific clicks to your social campaigns.

Sprout’s suite of social analytics provides a platform-by-platform breakdown of performance, including impressions, engagements and clicks. Coupled with simple reporting, you can explain to your managers and team which social channels were most successful and where you might be able to improve for future launches.

Sprout social tag report

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

Ready to rock your next social media product launch?

We get it: launching a new product isn’t easy.

That said, promoting your launch via social doesn’t have to be a headache.

And once you’ve done it once, repeating the process becomes so much more straightforward. Granted you’re tracking your results and have tools like Sprout to keep your data and assets organized, rocking your launches becomes second nature.

Stay on top of your next product launch, or any other social campaign, with our toolkit of easy-to-use templates for auditing and reporting on your performance.