Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Gaz Evans, Co-founder of GreenLight. Follow Gaz on Twitter and connect with Greenlight on Twitter & Facebook.
GreenLight.gl makes your life more fun by finding people and things you like. It’s already easy to stay in touch with people you know, and in August 2012 GreenLight launches to make it easy to find new people you will want to know.
It is the age old problem for social startups, ‘How do we get people to use and test the product if there is no one there to interact with?’ As a platform for social discovery it would be very hard for us to have people use the product if we offered neither.
To overcome this problem we created a plan to start growing our community early, with the goal of having a good number of people interested to test the product for us. Here is our 6 Step Launch Plan:
1. Map out the stages of your product release
2. Write your “Company Book”
3. Create a LaunchRock page
4. Build your social network presence
5. Monitor the effectiveness of each promotion
6. Communicate with your community
We sat down as a team and went through each stage of the product release. We discussed how many testers would be needed at each point and then used those numbers and dates to plan the marketing, We tied each stage of production to each stage of marketing so that we could provide the right number of people needed.
If marketing had just decided “we must have a community!” and gone off without a plan or knowing what to provide to the business then we could have ended up wasting a lot of time and not achieving what was needed. If we had left it until the product was ready to start then we couldn’t have provided the number of testers needed to make sure the product worked.
As a startup we have to answer many questions about what it is we do and who we are. There are investor meetings, competition entries, social media pages, friend’s enquiries, press releases, interviews – all require us to know what we are about and how to communicate it.
We knew this would happen and so we created the GreenLight Book. Through our research we distilled down the major things that we would be asked. Then by using that we created a document that meant we would we have a consistent message and we could pull information from that to answer things quickly if needed.
We have refined the book as we have done more testing using Launchrock Insights but it also forced us right from the start to think about what message we wanted to get across and how we wanted to explain ourselves.
Now we had our plan and our book we created our LaunchRock page. We had decided to use LaunchRock because it would give us analytics on what was happening with our traffic, it would allow us to make changes quickly and on the fly and it also meant that a simple change could be done by me in marketing rather than having to go through the development team each time who were busy with other things.
We made that page the cornerstone of all of our marketing activity. Everything was designed to direct people to that page and to encourage them to sign up to test.
We had our LaunchRock page set up and ready and so we now had to drive people to that and we decided to do this entirely through social networking. It is very simple to set up Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts for your startup and all of these can be used to send people to your page and to get them interacting with you and with each other.
We used the GreenLight book to populate all the descriptions on the different networks so the message was consistent and we then made sure that each of them referenced each other and the GreenLight startup page. This way we could build a community online and hopefully some of that traffic would go through the LaunchRock page and sign up to test.
And it is very true. After putting our page up and setting up our social networking presence we then went nuts telling all our friends and family to get involved and really pushing it out. We created content to send out on Twitter and Facebook, we ran an Instagram competition to get people involved and to see their photos on Pinterest and Facebook and through all of this it became an addiction checking into LaunchRock and hitting the insights tab.
You have very few metrics you can measure when you start out without a product but LaunchRock insights give you some invaluable ones. It really lets you to see what effect your actives are having. We can see that when we started running our Instagram competition there was a spike in signups, we can see that when we changed our design there was another spike. We use that data to work out what is effective and what our community is interested in, something that would have been much harder (and much more developer intensive) without LaunchRock.
We put up our LaunchRock page quickly and simply and then used the insights to measure changes we made to it. We changed the message on that page first of all and if it wasn’t effect we went back or if it was we moved forward. It was through that process that we got to the design we have now and we know we have an effective message (that has gone into the Book and across all our pages)
*a personal highlight for me – we knew we hit it right when the design that we had reached through our Insights was then picked up by LaunchRock and put on Pinterest as an example of good design. Using LaunchRock to get noticed by LaunchRock, perfect.
This is an essential step in the process. All of those people that have come through your various channels to sign up for your LaunchRock page are interested in what you are doing. So talk to them. They will be your early adopters and, fingers crossed, your biggest advocates so sending our regular updates and information on what you are doing really helps create your community and lets them know what is happening.
LaunchRock has been the cornerstone of our launch process and an invaluable tool for monitoring our activities as we start our community.
Editor: What challenges has your product launch presented, and how are you overcoming them? Let us know in the comments!