Update: This post is now years old but I think it’s still really useful. Related posts I recommend checking out include this one about relationship building and this one about embargoes. Please make sure you check out Little Bird, too – it automates a lot of the things discussed here!
One of the consulting services I offer companies is in launch strategy planning for social media promotion. Over at SplashCast we’ve done two major product launches in the last week and I thought I’d offer some observations here based on those experiences. If you’re interested in reading about SplashCast’s use of social media for marketing in general, check out this post.
The launch of our NPR Podcast Player was covered at Webware, StartupSquad, Mashable, Download Squad, WebProNews, CenterNetworks and Technically Speaking so far. Last week’s announcement was covered by TechCrunch and Mashable. Big thanks to everyone!
Here’s some things I have found to be helpful in efforts like this:
Writing a pre-launch FAQ is one of the first things I advise any company does before reaching out to bloggers. I believe a good FAQ includes all the basic background information that would be communicated in a solid telephone conversation: company history, funding, executive backgrounds and possible if not already available use cases of the product. Based on my experience covering startups at TechCrunch I found the majority of telephone conversations with CEOs to be frustratingly long, slow and unneeded. Tech news and review bloggers are hungry for content and if you give them all the info they need to write, in an easy to consume fashion, they will appreciate it and be more likely to write about you. This FAQ document should also include a good logo image and screenshots that can be included in any write up. An embeddable screencast or demo video is great but good looking screenshots go a long way too. Here’s an example of a good launch FAQ. Update: That page is now down, a good example of why you should save a screenshot of key pages before you leave a job! None the less, here’s a cache of that document, minus all the media.
Once you’ve got all this information available on your website, you can send a 2 or 3 line inquiry out to bloggers. “We’re launching a thing-a-mabob. Here’s the info if you’re interested. http://mycompany.info/thingamabob Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about it. Thanks.” That works great, especially if you are emailing bloggers that you’ve already built relationships with. For more on pitching bloggers, see also my list of links on the subject.
There’s probably more blogs worth reaching out to than you think. When we launched SplashCast in January, I reached out to about 25 bloggers, ranging from the big ones to some smaller, up and coming ones. We also put out a press release, attended the DEMO conference and employed a successful PR firm, Horizon Communications. The agregate result of all this was more than 250 blog posts about the SplashCast launch. Just TechCrunch and MasterNewMedia coverage alone lead to tens of other blogs writing the company up in the following 24 hours.
Many of the smaller blogs that wrote about that first and subsequent launches send significant traffic as well. Traffic can come from unexpected places – for today’s NPR launch, for example, StartupSquad is sending us more traffic than almost anyone (their coverage was included in Robert Scoble’s link blog, for one thing) and our press release got picked up by Mashable, which was then linked to by WebProNews. We’ve never reached out to WebProNews before, but the point is that some coverage leads to more coverage when you make it easy for the ball to start rolling.
How do you find the blogs to reach out to in the first place? Some good tips can be found in my post here titled How to find good blogs on almost any topic, which I’m proud to say is the #1 Google search result for the phrase “how to find good blogs.”
There are any number of strategic details to take into account as well, but I hope that this post will prove useful to readers doing social media promotion. If you’re interested in working with me on a project like this for your company drop me a line at email@example.com. My other consulting services include development and design feedback reports (because you’ve got to have something great to launch!) and working with companies to leverage OPML for competitive and market intelligence.
NTEN helps nonprofits learn to use the web effectively.