colorful line illustration of people, toys, and marketing charts - launching a product on Instagram

An 8-Step Influencer Strategy for Launching a Product on Instagram

Launching a new product online is fun! It’s exciting! And yet, it’s downright horrifying. In this little guide we’re going to lay out our step-by-step plan for introducing Instagrammers to your products and your brand… since 83 percent of them are using the platform for product discovery.

For most brands, a product launch is a little like riding a roller coaster… backwards… in the dark. Just never know where your launch will end up. It’s hard to predict how things will go. That’s true, even with so many Instagrammers going on there specifically to discover new products (FYI, got that info straight from the top(ish) – Alexander De Leon, Instagram’s head of Product Marketing. Actually, you can check out that Alexander’s presentation on YouTube here.)

If you’re nervous about a new product launch, you have good reason to be. According to Harvard, 30,000 new consumer products are launched every single year, and something like 80 percent of them fail. Yikes!

For most brands, a product launch is a little like riding a roller coaster… backwards… in the dark. Just never know where your launch will end up. It’s hard to predict how things will go. That’s true, even with so many Instagrammers going on there specifically to discover new products (FYI, got that info straight from the top(ish) – Alexander De Leon, Instagram’s head of Product Marketing. Actually, you can check out that Alexander’s presentation on YouTube here.)

If you’re nervous about a new product launch, you have good reason to be.

Pinterest pin that reads Finally, a real plan to Launch a New Product on Instagram (and win with it)

According to Harvard, 30,000 new consumer products are launched every single year, and something like 80 percent of them fail. Yikes!

I know. I know. That sounds a little high. And there are some debates about the accuracy of this particularly astounding stat, but it’s still probably a pretty safe bet to say way more products either fail or are absorbed by the market (that’s a nice way to say they disappear from store shelves) than become the next big thing.

But that’s not you, right? You’re not going to go through the trouble of launching a product just to have that sucker disappear into somebody’s feed. No. When you launch YOUR product and introduce it to droves of hungry Instagram fans, you’re gonna have an awesome Instagram product launch.

Because we’re going to show you how to do it.

So, in this little guide we’re going to lay out our step-by-step plan for introducing Instagrammers to new products… because 83 percent of them use the platform to discover new products and services. Got that info straight from the top(ish) – Alexander De Leon, Instagram’s head of Product Marketing. Actually, you can check out that Alexander’s presentation on YouTube here.

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Step 1: Figure Out Who You’re Targeting

That’s a big one. Chances are you’ve already done a ton of research on your target customers before designing your product. But even so, you’re still going to have to learn basically everything there is to know about marketing to this particular demographic. Because you’re going to need that info when you start the process of…

testing messages

testing CTAs

testing images

testing captions

.… that sort of thing.

It’s especially important to know how your audience behaves on Instagram (psychographics). Why? Because the audience here varies from the audience you’ll find on other platforms.

Take, for example, teens. The ones who hang out on Instagram are way different than the gamers you’ll find on Twitch. So, the way you approach your Instagram product launch should be unique to this platform.

That said, take time to get to know your demographic so you can make an Instagram marketing campaign that resonates with them. (This will come in handy later when it comes time to choose influencers and hashtags.)

If you’re still working on that audience targeting thing, we actually just published a post on that you can read.

Step 2: Grow Your Instagram Following with Members of Your Target Audience

Now, this is an essential step because you don’t want to start promoting to an empty crowd. Nor do you want to reach out to influencers when your brand is still so lame that no one’s following you.

The good news is that you don’t need to garner millions of followers. Nor do you need hundreds of thousands. A couple hundred? Yeah.

There are a couple of no-sweat ways to grow your audience quickly:

  • Ask your existing network to follow you on Instagram and MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO DO SO.
  • Publish at least a dozen high-quality photos to start, and continue publishing content with captions and hashtags a few times a week.
  • It’s okay to include photos that showcase your product or service – use them to explain your new product.
  • Make sure your posts fall in line with a specific theme that “feels” like your brand. You want to make your brand’s Instagram feed cohesive.

Also, don’t forget to fill out your bio (give it some personality). And add a link to your website — if you don’t already have one, you can use a simple platform like Wix or Squarespace to create one.

Step 3: Clearly Define the Goals for Your Product Launch

The obvious answer: to promote the heck out of your product launch, so you generate max buzz and sales (or pre-orders). Simple. Next problem.

Well, in real life, if you want to do that, you can’t just say, “I’m about to crush it!” three times. You’re gonna need a plan, specific goals that you can track and measure.

If you haven’t thought much about what you want your influencer campaign to achieve beyond sales, you’ll probably be surprised by how many different types of goals you can set for your campaign.

Interconnected diamond illustration of Influencer marketing campaign goals.png

For example, maybe success for a new brand is adding a thousand followers, or boosting your engagement ratio into the double-digit area (that WOULD be epic, wouldn’t it?). Your campaign goals can take a variety of shapes. The point is you need them.

One of the things brands miss with influencer marketing is that not all success has to equate to a sales transaction. And we do get brands who will only run campaigns if we can promise a certain amount of sales revenue that comes from the campaign.

Unrealistic, for the most part. About as unrealistic as it would be if you told Google Ads that you’ll only do PPC if it leads to guaranteed sales.

If your product launch is getting thousands of views, shares, and comments, then you have succeeded in building brand awareness, and brand lift ALWAYS precedes a sale.

We penned a short book that shows you how to structure influencer campaigns to meet specific goals. If that’s your thing, click the big, ol’ button below.


CTA Graphic promoting Setting Goals for Influencer Campaigns - eBook.jpg

Step 4: Map a Timeline for Your Launch Date

How long does it usually take to run a good campaign? Ideally, you want to create an Instagram marketing campaign that’s around 30 to 60 days. This way, you have enough time to grow buzz. Also remember that it typically takes a couple of weeks just to recruit influencers, ship products, approve the content your influencer partners create and schedule posts to go live.

Influencer Campaign Launching Schedule.png

Schedule posts so they go live over a series of days. That way if you notice that your first few influencers are making some branding mistakes or need more guidance with creating content, you can catch it in time to let your other influencers know before they create their content and possibly make the same mistakes.

If you know when you want your campaign to go live, you can pretty much plan the preliminary stuff accordingly. Just know that this is a weeks-long process.

If you don’t have four months, not to worry. We’ve pulled together successful campaigns in a few weeks. You can always scale down your campaign. But in a more perfect world, you’ll give yourself the weeks you need to plan your launch the right way. Compared to launching a product that requires you to ship physical products, launching a service is more flexible, which means you can get away with a campaign that’s only a month long.

Here’s how a typical product launch timeline looks:

  • Day 1-7: Building hype
  • Day 8: Product launch
  • Day 9-14: Post-launch follow-up
  • Day 15-30: Maintaining momentum by implementing your product into your content schedule

Tip: Lean on your influencers for content. Not in a mafia way, but in a trusting-them-to-do-what-they-do kinda way. Influencers literally make money by knowing how to create content that resonates with their audiences. So, let them do that. You want to allow for a little structured creative freedom, meaning they know what your goals are and they understand your brand and message, but they have the freedom to introduce your product and present your brand in a way that THEY’RE followers will find compelling.

Benefit: If you do it this way, you’ll have a ton of influencer-generated content that you can repurpose later across your own branded channels and the content that comes from each creator will be different. Variety is the spice of life. Just make sure to get the content rights.

Step 5: Choose the Right Influencer Partners

Finding the right influencer partners is usually where the work comes in, and most brands don’t really have a consistent way of doing it. This is where many influencer campaigns start to go wrong.

Gonna be honest here: it may take you a few weeks just to get the right influencers committed to your campaign, especially if you’re not using a tool like The Shelf for the influencer selection process.

Here’s another interesting stat from Alexander De Leon that may be of interest to you: 69 percent of Instagram users go on the platform to interact with influencers. So if you can get the right people promoting your product, your buzz generation will be insane (in a good way).

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Who are the “right” people? Well, you gotta choose influencers whose audiences overlap with your target audience. That means, you have to be a little more thoughtful when it comes to choosing influencers.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just target the biggest influencers in your industry? They’r obviously the most influential.

That’s a valid question. And the answer is it depends on your goals. It would be faster to do that. If you’re running a brand awareness campaign, you definitely want to go big – the bigger the influencer, the faster they can spread the word about your product.

If, however, you’re trying to get influencer-generated content that you can reuse across your own channels – like as paid ads or whatever – you’ll save money and get better results by working with a larger number of smaller influencers who can create tons of content that you can blast all over the Internets (with an s).

You can start with nano or micro-influencers, who are more affordable, and also have a more targeted audiences. Which may be the best way to go anyway if you’re targeting younger buyers in their teens and early 20s. These guys aren’t into celebrity endorsements.

Seventy percent of millennials value recommendations from non-celebrity influencers. And another 40 percent feel that their favorite content creators understand them better than their friends.

That says a lot about the power of micro-influencers. The key is to find and partner with influencers who already have the audience you’re looking to attract.

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Step 6: Use Your Team’s Creative Genius

In other words — your creative direction. This is the “structured” part of that structured creative freedom I was talking about before. Now, what makes Instagram interesting isn’t just the quality of the photos, but more the stories you can tell on Insta using images.

For sure, the pics you use on Instagram should support your corporate brand. When people arrive at your Instagram account, they should “get” how the pics align with your brand. This is a really great opportunity for you to connect with people even before they know what your brand is really about.

pretty pink sponsored post of Method Products featuring @samswhurld.png
Doesn’t this post from @MethodProducts x @samswhurld just make you want to run out and get whatever this is? LOVE THIS. And it’s 100% on-brand for the reputation Method’s built over the years. Source: Instagram

We’re talking about having a color scheme that’s in line with your brand, consistent use of filters, camera angles, layouts, frames, negative space in your pics… the regular Instagram stuff. A pretty feed. A feed that’s eye-catching and useful… just branded.

You can browse through the IG accounts of businesses similar to yours to get inspiration. Jessica Thiefels actually wrote a REALLY GREAT POST on branding your Instagram feed. Or you can head over to Pinterest for some ideas. You need your color palette (consider your product packaging or brand colors), design style guide, or templates to help direct the posts for your launch campaign (and beyond).

Step 7: Build a Catalog of AMAZING Assets for Your Campaign

The content influencers create should be centered around themes and concepts that your in-house creative team (or your influencer marketing agency) comes up with. And the type of content you need for your campaign (i.e. video hauls, product reviews, memes, etc.) plays a huge role in which influencer partners you choose for the campaign.

But you don’t have to rely solely on the content your influencers create. What about some behind-the-scenes video of the product development process? Or a candid, off-the-cuff interview with your CEO or a personable account manager? Another option is to showcase case studies (but in a way that’s interesting and inspiring, and not kill-yourself-boring).

We also recommend coming up with a unique hashtags. That probably came up during the ideation stage of building out your concepts, but just in case… you’ll need that branded hashtag. Have influencer partners add that branded hashtag to all of the posts they publish throughout the product launch campaign (including your Instagram Stories).

Now for the scheduling part: Keep the lifespan of each post in mind as you’re planning out your calendar. For instance, infographics can be shared over and over for weeks (if it’s funny, informative, or entertaining). You can also drop those in infographics archives.

Stories last for 24 hours, which makes them perfect for testing out messages.

lifespan  of a social media post.jpg

Of course, you can add a story to your highlights within that 24 hours if you want to hang on to them.

Blog posts and Pinterest pins have the longest lifespans, at approximately two years and four months, respectively.

For Instagram and LinkedIn, each post gets approximately a day to get the most reach.

One of the primary benefits of working with influencers is the sheer amount of sponsored content you get. So, you can repost campaign content across your own branded channels without having to recycle the same content on a single channel over and over again.

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Step 8: Rock Your Launch Day!

Instagram marketing goes beyond the pushing of a “publish” button and monitoring the launch. You need to be in there on launch day, engaging with your audience.

In fact, why not go live so you can answer questions and see all the excitement first-hand?

Here are other tips you can use to ensure your launch day goes well:

  • Answer DMs promptly
  • Reshare relevant content from followers
  • Add your Instragram stories to highlights (for the late-comers)
  • Edit your bio text and image so it reflects your launch specifically (add a trackable link also)

After launch day, don’t forget to continue measuring the results of your campaign.

Final Words On This…

Not so difficult, am I right? Okay, it may seem like a lot, but as you go through each step, you’ll find it easier and easier.

The planning phase is the most tedious, but well worth it. Once you have all your nuts and bolts, all you have to do is screw them into place.

And that’s when you’ll start to feel better — when you begin to see your campaign coming together.

Plotting on using Instagram for your upcoming product launch? Then let us know where you’re at in your campaign and what methods you plan to use to make it a success!

8 in 10 marketers rely on influencers to achieve brand lift

Because influencer marketing works.

What's the focus of your big marketing push? New brand? Product launch or event? Need people to understand your offering a little better? Whatever shape your awareness campaign takes, just know that brand lift always comes before a conversion.

We build influencers campaigns tailor-made to help brands like yours get the greatest reach and the most engagement for awareness campaigns. We look at the most meaningful KPIs to help you identify the content that's resonating with your audience so you can optimize live campaigns for even greater returns.

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