10 steps to launching a new product using social media

olympus_ep12-smallRecently Mullen had a wonderful experience working with Olympus to launch its new E-P1, the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera.  This beautifully designed camera shoots great stills and HD video.  As a content creating machine, it seemed the perfect product to bring to life in the social media space.  After all, aren’t YouTube, Flickr and Facebook where we show off our photos and videos?

However, you don’t simply appear, announce your presence and hope people pay attention.  You start at the beginning.  So here’s what we did and what might work for you.

1.  Make a commitment

Seems obvious, but it’s important. Social media isn’t a campaign or a program, it’s an ongoing relationship.  Olympus understood this and made that commitment.

2.  Define your community

The more clearly you define your community and learn how they engage with a category, a brand, content and media, the more effective you’ll be. We weren’t trying to reach a mass audience, but rather to connect with digitally savvy photo enthusiasts who might enjoy learning and talking about the new camera.

3.  Determine objectives

True, Olympus signed up for the long term — to listen, learn, share, contribute — but our real objective was to launch the E-P1, generate buzz, get bloggers to pay attention, and have the press pick up the conversation.

4.  Engineer your presence

Essentially we constructed a social media brand platform, connecting Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube so we could take our questions, content and conversation to the community rather than ask them to come to us.  Of course, Olympus prominently displayed links on its website, too.

5.  Build a following

You can let it happen serendipitously, or you can develop a game plan.  We chose to follow key influencers, promote their content, contribute to their conversations, and offer them value in hopes they might follow back.

6.  Engage, share and inspire participation

Long before we were even ready to talk about the new camera we got fans and followers engaged in discussions.  We shared videos, product demos, invited them to submit content, and simply talked.

7.  Do something attention getting

Even in the social media space, you have to compete for attention and generate content worth talking about. We did it by partnering with Tom Dickson of Will it Blend fame.  We started with a teaser video that generated nearly 200,000 views in the first couple of days, then followed with a full blown product introduction. We didn’t create a viral video for the sake of creating a viral video; rather we came up with a fresh new way to demonstrate the totality of the camera’s features.  It worked, evident by this blurb in Wired.

8.  Mobilize your community

Ok, in this case we did something social outside the digital realm.  We invited bloggers and reporters to a product demo and photo shoot at Coney Island.  But we also provided our fans and followers with the full story and useful background about the camera.

9.  Measure results

As our head of analytics likes to say, “you can’t put up a weather station and measure yesterday’s weather.”  So early on we put in place systems to measure the conversation, sentiment, tweets, RTs, web traffic and impressions from both online and offline media coverage.  This gave us a base to compare the conversation at the start of the project with the buzz generated after the announcement.  It will also give us a baseline to use in determining actual sales and their relationship to the conversation.

10.  Keep on going

As we said, and as Olympus knows, this isn’t a program or a campaign, it’s a commitment.  So we’re still at it.  Listening, talking, sharing, responding.  Of course it’s too soon to see the sales numbers, but feedback from dealers has been very positive.   And we know based on previous experience that there is a correlation between buzz and sales.  So that’s a good thing, given that bloggers and press are writing, prospective customers are talking, and the videos are getting shout outs everywhere.

Can you think of anything we missed?   Are there best practices we didn’t consider? Have you introduced a new product this way?  Please share.

19 comments
Elijah Lewis
Elijah Lewis

i am always watching for any product launch on the internet as i am a gadget addict myself."`:

Matthew J. Klein
Matthew J. Klein

Great list. Will print and post on wall. Can't wait to see the 50-inch plasma go into to grinder when Olympus upgrades the model next year with a larger view finder. ('Course, now I gotta go check out the Cialis post...)

edward boches
edward boches

Vicki:
Thanks. Glad it's helpful. It's by no means complete. It didn't include a carefully thought out comment strategy that let people comment on Olympus's site, nor did it have a blogging strategy for Olympus themselves. Both of those may have added even more discussion and generated more attention. Will love to hear how your eco water valve launch goes. High interest category and definitely an online, social oriented audience for a product like that.

Vicki McLeod
Vicki McLeod

Thanks for that Edward - it's given me a lot of ideas of how I can help to launch an eco water valve into the UK market later this year.

Erik Proulx
Erik Proulx

This is a roadmap for the launch of the new Please Feed The Animals. Thanks, Edward.

Max
Max

Great post. I think it's worth noting that writing this article *about* the campaign is also a step in promoting the campaign. :)

Mark Harmel
Mark Harmel

The other feature to play up is the ability to shoot raw files. This is a mystery setting for hobby shooters, but the Holy Grail for pros and serious amateurs.
.-= Mark Harmel´s last blog ..my brief close encounter with michael jackson =-.

Mark Harmel
Mark Harmel

The big news with this camera is a digital that is capability of doing multiple exposures with the camera. This may be a first in digital! This is the one thing I miss from film days.
.-= Mark Harmel´s last blog ..my brief close encounter with michael jackson =-.

Kneale Mann
Kneale Mann

Many who want to dip their toe into the space feel it's a campaign. In the process the best they can hope for is a wet toe and a lot of disappointment.

Viral and branding are created by customers. So you must integrate social media into your overall plan, pay close attention to the behavior and keep your hand off the panic buttton.

Great post, Edward!
@knealemann
.-= Kneale Mann´s last blog ..The New News Cycle =-.

edward boches
edward boches

Amy,
It was probably only a matter of months. Olympus had a YouTube channel with videos posted by customers demonstrating different cameras, but FB, Twitter and the program only preceded the launch by a few months. Obviously Olympus benefits from a great name and brand name awareness, and the E-P1 is a pretty impressive product, but to generate as much attention as we did (175 million impressions) goes to show that SM works and can be used on multiple levels. I know that Lisa Hickey has been pretty successful with smaller, less known brands by integrating YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging and energizing existing evangelists, so you may want to check in with her, too. Love the Cialis post.

Stuart Foster
Stuart Foster

Multi-tiered, multi-tiered, multi-tiered.

Love it when a plan comes together :)
.-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..Your Lifestream Sucks =-.

Amy Flanagan
Amy Flanagan

Thanks for sharing this. Smart stuff. It's generous of you to put it out there for others to learn. Can I ask how long it was from the time Olympus began engaging until you got to the point where you are now?
Amy
.-= Amy Flanagan´s last blog ..I keep thinking if they just got in the same bathtub they might not need the Cialis. =-.

Dana Kirk
Dana Kirk

Edward,

I agree that it's harder for brands but it's only a matter of time. It's not like this is going away. They ultimately have no choice but to embrace it or face a long, hard slog trying to catch up while they wonder what happened. I might just have to go buy an Olympus E-P1 for the cause.
.-= Dana Kirk´s last blog ..Everyone Has an Audience =-.

edward boches
edward boches

Dana,
Thanks. To be honest, I think it's easy for an individual to do this. You give, take, share, and create in a new space. It seems harder for brands, though. So many are afraid of losing the control they've already lost. Kudos to Olympus for taking the leap and trusting us and Michael Bourne who does most of the work via @getolympus.

Dana Kirk
Dana Kirk

Hi Edward,

Keep talking the talk and walking the walk. You lead by example and demonstrate good "social behavior" not only by your willingness to be open and share but also in your humility in acknowledging that this may or may not be a definitive list. A true example of "joining the conversation".
.-= Dana Kirk´s last blog ..Everyone Has an Audience =-.

edward boches
edward boches

Lisa and Mariano, thanks for the comments. There are an awful lot of blog posts that talk theory but don't have real examples. Obviously there are many that do. But it seems it's more helpful if you have real examples, mini-cases if you will. Hoping to eventually turn this and a couple of others into e-books.

Mariano
Mariano

Edward, this is a great post. I saw the commercial of which you spoke (not to mention videos you created few of your other campaigns), and I think you nailed the Olympus campaign on the head. You provide great value in your blog and really give effective examples of how to get things done.

Thanks, and keep up the great posts!
.-= Mariano´s last blog ..CMS Smackdown: Drupal, Joomla and…WordPress =-.

Lisa Hickey
Lisa Hickey

Hi Edward, Great step by step account of a new product launch. Nice job keeping everything focused on a combination of brand values (uniting photographers and artists) and product benefits (a multimedia, multi-functioning, smallest interchangeable lens camera). You were thoughtful, helpful, engaging and creative. Well done!
.-= Lisa Hickey´s last blog ..We are all curators of the world. =-.