Four Ways Brands Can Use Social Media in New Product Launches

George Guildford
George Guildford Account Manager, Punch Communications

Posted on February 10th 2011

Four Ways Brands Can Use Social Media in New Product Launches

When it comes to the launch of new products, an increasing number of brands and PR companies are now looking to social media to compliment their traditional marketing and PR activities. In doing so, brands are seeing success in extending and enhancing their campaigns in a way that builds upon existing fan acquisition and engagement on networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, enabling them to interact with customers and introduce product and campaign concepts in a way previously unavailable. Below are four reasons as to why more and more brands are now integrating social media as a key part of their marketing and PR strategies for new product launches. 

1. Create early ‘buzz’ around the product – Creating early consumer ‘buzz’ around a new product is key to ensuring a product launch has a good platform from which to develop. With a notable number of Facebook and Twitter fans also being early adopters of new products, interacting with fans through social media is a fantastic way to increase and develop word-of-mouth. Certainly, if companies are able to get people talking about a new product and the launch campaign across their own social media profiles via “likes” and shared posts, this will ultimately result in an increase in consumer awareness. As more and more conversations start to take place around a new product, social media networks such as Facebook become the perfect place for brands to push things even further by posting teasers, promo videos and even apps to create and develop anticipation and consumer hype for what is to come.

2. Utilise customer and fan feedback – The interactive nature of social media presents companies with the perfect opportunity to measure effectiveness, tweak, react and adapt their product launch strategy in line with fan and customer feedback gained through social media engagement. With the launch of new products, it is always important for brands to listen to what customers and fans are feeding back to them as much as possible, as this provides companies with an insight into the consumer perception of a campaign or product enabling them to adjust their approach accordingly. Additionally, social media also presents brands with an opportunity to test new ideas such as the use of QR codes or location-based services, inviting companies to be innovative in their approach and take on board feedback on new ideas in order to develop and focus upon the ideas that work.

3. Enhance and extend traditional marketing and PR activities – Announcing the launch of its latest smart phone via a fantastic Super Bowl ad, Sony Ericsson tied its Xperia PLAY commercial in with a range of announcements, competitions and videos posted to the Sony Ericsson Facebook page to engage fans even further. Through a series of intriguing mystery posts and competitions, Sony Ericsson was able to utilise its social media channels to raise awareness and anticipation for the Super Bowl ad spot as well as increase engagement and fan conversations. A perfect example of taking a well thought-out traditional marketing and PR campaign platform such as a Super Bowl commercial, and extending the conversation, activity, awareness, and overall consumer buzz around the launch of the product via various social media channels. Additionally, through social media, brands can also tie in their marketing and PR strategies with mobile marketing, SMS and exclusive content accessible on smart phones - all of which help to maximise the launch of a new product as well as extend the brand experience.

4. Competitions and rewards – Early adopters and fans of a brand will always be more likely to talk about a new product or promotional campaign to their own friends and followers, increasing both awareness and word-of-mouth. In light of this, companies are presented with a great opportunity through social media to reward those fans and followers that are sharing, liking, posting, re-tweeting and generally talking about their new products. By aligning new product launches with Facebook and Twitter competitions, brands can both increase fan acquisition and engagement, as well as present customers with special offers, exclusive discounts, additional content, and even free products. 

With an increasing number of brands now creating innovative, fresh and unique social media campaigns alongside their new product launches, it is important that the focus remains on ‘utilising’ social media as part of a wider strategy, rather than ‘relying’ on social media to launch the product. Social media certainly presents companies with a fantastic opportunity to extend and compliment the impact of their more traditional marketing and online PR activities. Interestingly, the most success is often seen by those brands that are able to effectively integrate their social media, marketing and PR efforts into a focused, innovative and overarching narrative - creating engagement, interaction and consumer ‘buzz’ across multiple platforms as a result.

George Guildford

George Guildford

Account Manager, Punch Communications

George is a Senior Account Director at digital PR agency Punch Communications utilising over 8 years marketing, PR and social media experience. 

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Comments

Customer service is another way to use social media. That sort of goes with customer interaction/feedback, but it's different because customer service is solely about reaction and not prevention.

Good post George.

Sticking with your points:

1. We've seen this with movies, with a number of theatrical releases using social media to drum up that early interests and curiosity.

2. When the latest and greatest iPhone was released the social traffic went thru the roof on social media. I'm sure apple had their feelers out there picking up the pisitive and negative vibes customers were throwing out there based on their initial experiences with the new device. And if Apple wasn't out there listening, I'm sure the Android and Blackberry folks were :)

3. The little boy in the darth vader suit desperately attempting to manipulate the "force" around him and his home was secreted out on the social Web well in advance of Superbowl. Was it by mistake. I think not! :)

4. Not big on the rewards aspect of getting customers to talk about your product through incentive. The social advocacy on behalf of your product would seem artificial and fake. I could be wrong though. The beauty of social media is the "natural" feel to it all. The fact that much of the conversation you hear and see is pure, unfiltered, untainted and "real".

 

Right now, the company I work for, PGi is kicking off a new virtual meetings product called iMeet (www.imeet.com) and we are using many of these tactics.  We are also tapping into a key influencer group that we have developed relationships with through PR and Social Media related activities.  We connect with these key influencers with strong social followings, building a relationship and introducing the product to them.  If they love it, they will shout from the rooftop to their world of influence.  This is a key to creating buzz and putting butts in seats, creating some momentum.

The key is to tap into these key influencers and build relationships before you want them to comment and influence their audiences.  I talk about this a little on my latest blog post.  http://www.michaelbuckham-white.com/blog2/

George, as an speaker/trainer/author on the subject of Face-to-Face Networking, I had been looking for some concrete examples of how to use social media networking wisely. Your article not only provided me with a great aha, it very clearly gave the "why" it works. Perfect.

You provided me with the "meat" for my blog that updated with your article tonight.

http://www.kathycondon.info/blog

 

 

Social media channels are the perfect means of creating a hype around a future release whether a product, song, tour. A great place to both launch a marketing campaign and use the results as market research to determine how much of an impact the new release is going to have.

In combination with other software tools you can do a lot of background work for marketing and sales using the social media tools in combination with your analytics and CRM tools.

Thanks for writing this inspiring post George.

I think it is so great that we can now create this Word of Mouth buzz simply by using social media. Of course, there are certain strategies, and I think that consumer products can greatly benefit from Social Media. Social media provides consumer brands to engage, and become one with the brand. They are more connected, involved, and therefore more loyal, if they know that the brand is listening to them. I recently wrote a blog post on social media for consumer products. You can check it out here: http://www.mysmn.com/social-media-for-consumer-products-expose-yourself/

Those are four great ways for brands to utilize social media in new product launches.  Companies can also assist in successful product launches and campaigns on your behalf.  It has been shown to be more cost effective to spend money using social marketing including engaging with consumers and using video hosting services.  There is a company gaining attention deploying many forms of alternative marketing including social, viral, word-of-mouth, blogging and engaging in conversations online.  Clients have raved about dramatic results and an excellent ROI.  MagicBuz have coined themselves as the first 'SocioViral' marketing company.  It sounds like an interesting and unique approach.  Their site is www.magicbuz.com if you want to find out more.