There’s nothing like competition to get yourself moving - and there’s nothing quite like the daily competition over at Product Hunt, where at the strike of midnight, companies embark on a 24 hour race to reach the top of the leaderboard as Product of the Day.
That’s probably what makes launching on Product Hunt exhilarating, stressful, anxiety-inducing and challenging, all at once. Raise your hand if you’ve waivered over the idea to launch your product this way; you’re not alone.
“ I should actually call this short deck ‘Demystifying Launching on Product Hunt’," said Roy Povarchik, as we sat down to discuss his tips and tricks for successfully making the top 3 on a given day of launching on Product Hunt. Roy is the Director of Growth at Wilco and a longtime growth marketer, who has launched many top-ranking products on the platform and counseled ~50 startup founders on how to do it. And the truth is, according to Roy - it’s actually not as hard as you think. It just takes doing the right preparation, knowing the right etiquette and applying the right tactics.
In the following how-to guide, Roy helps us answer the most common questions about how to have a successful launch on Product Hunt and what hacks and tips can actually help you rank at the top. We’ll cover:
- Product Hunt 101: basic terminology
- How to prepare for your product launch
- Understanding Product Hunt ranking
- What to expect on launch day
- Additional tips and tricks
Watch Roy's original (entertaining) Product Hunt launch talk below or read on for full Product Hunt launch breakdown:
Product Hunt 101
If you are new to Product Hunt, let’s start by defining some of the most important terms.
Each product on Product Hunt has its own Product Page where all its related information lives. This is also where people can engage with your product.
The Hunter is the member of the community who creates the product page and has the privileges to post to the front page of Product Hunt. The key thing to look for in a Hunter is that they have front page privileges and a solid following. All of the followers of the Hunter will get notified when the product goes live. Choosing an established Hunter with a lot of followers will increase your reach.
The Maker is essentially the product owner, or the person who created the product. Each product can have several Makers. Best practice is to have two to four makers. Even if you have a team of 15 people, for example, you want to list only a few as official Makers because Makers have less sway with the ranking algorithms. Instead, the remaining team members can interact with the page as a part of The Community to help boost the ranking algorithm for your product.
The Maker can vary, but typically most companies will include the CEO, someone from the product team, and somebody from marketing.
The Community (or Supporters) is the product community, made up of the people who engage with the platform through actions like upvoting and commenting. Community Supporter engagement is worth more for the ranking algorithms than Maker engagement.
Ranking is a measure of your product’s popularity or success, as each day is basically a competition. The more upvotes and comments your product has, the higher the ranking.
Voting is how the community engages with your product. The goal is to get the largest volume of upvotes and comments.
Once you are familiar with these terms, you’re ready to start prepping your Product Hunt launch.
How to prepare for a Product Hunt launch
How to create a Product Page on Product Hunt
Once you are ready to get started, the first thing to do is to secure your Hunter because they will create your product page for you. Typically, you want to find your Hunter and pitch them your idea. Then, you can send them a direct message or email asking them to launch your product on Product Hunt at a select day and time.
If they agree to launch your product, they’ll set you up with a blank page that you can edit. The page will be set to automatically publish on your chosen day, typically at midnight or 1 a.m. Pacific Time.
Once you’ve made an arrangement with a Hunter, they will send you a URL to your blank product page that you can then edit and add your product information.
How to optimize your Product Hunt product page
To rank well and have a successful launch, you need to optimize your product page. Here are our best tips.
Add your logo
First, you want to have an eye-catching logo. Most people will discover your product from the front page, so you want to grab their attention right away.
One tactic for having an eye-catching logo is to have an animated GIF. Not having one isn’t a deal breaker, but if you can swing it, it is a nice touch that makes your product more noticeable.
Include a specific company name
If possible, you can make your company name refer to your specific product. For example, instead of just “Wilco,” Roy launched their specific product under the name “Wilco Quest Builder.”
Write a clear and catchy tagline
The tagline is the first thing a user will see before clicking on your product, so make sure that anybody can understand it immediately. Don't try to be overly creative, sassy, funny, or weird, because that can be confusing. Instead, focus on making it as interesting and relevant to your target audience as you can within the 60-character limit. Make it recognizable to your target audience while also raising some curiosity.
Write a specific description
Once you’ve grabbed the community’s attention with your logo and tagline, the description is the place to get a little more specific what your product does. The description is limited to 240 characters, so it is short but can help your target audience understand if your product is for them or not and give them a basic idea of what you do.
Include high-quality product images
Then the last aspect of your product page is the product images. Aim to include between five to seven images — any more than that and people likely won’t scroll through them all. With products where the images are not self-explanatory, you can add text and explainers to help the viewer understand what they’re about.
You can also include a product video.
Should you invest in creating a launch video?
It might seem important to include a flashy launch video for your product, but usually video is not a game changer. Many products don't benefit that much from video. Besides, people have to actually click to see the video, and Rpy doesn’t think most people take the time to do that.
Unless your product needs a short clip or live demo for it to make sense or to show off its value, Roy says he wouldn’t spend time creating a video. Videos can take a lot of resources, money, and time, so you risk it interfering with your launch and not adding much value. Pictures are usually all you need!
Understanding the three elements of Product Hunt ranking: upvotes, comments, reviews
Once you’ve optimized your Product Hunt product page, you’ll want to be sure you understand the ranking system.
There are three elements that affect ranking: comments, votes, and reviews.
Product Hunt is all about the community, so comments are given a lot of weight in the ranking. In other words, products that foster good, interesting discussion will get rewarded, even if they don’t have the most upvotes overall. The catch is that the conversation must be relevant and interesting, not just a bunch of people saying, “Amazing product!” If you can build a strategy around high-quality comments and discussion, your product is more likely to rank higher.
However, you always want to keep in mind that the ranking system tracks trends and velocity. For example, if you try to hack the system by starting your day with thousands of upvotes and comments in the first five minutes and then the activity just falls off for the rest of the day, Product Hunt will detect that you’ve done a hack and therefore punish you and rank you lower. Even if you avoid punishment, the system will assume that the lack of activity on your page means that your page isn’t interesting anymore and rank you lower throughout the day.
Therefore, to improve your odds of ranking highly, you should focus on generating sustained page activity throughout the day. You should also aim for a mix of comments, votes, and reviews, but focus on generating comments with meaningful discussion.
You’ll also want to focus on engaging active, older community members because Product Hunt gives different weight to comments depending on the commenting account's age and previous activity levels. This means if most of your votes come from new users, you might not rank as high as another product page with the same number of votes from older users. This also means you should avoid any hacks like getting votes from hundreds or thousands of new accounts.
That said, don't be afraid to ask your friends, family, and coworkers to open a new product account to help increase your vote count. Account age won’t be the biggest factor affecting your ranking. Just don't misuse or abuse new accounts for upvotes.
How to optimize your first comment and why it’s important to ranking
Another thing you’ll want to prep in advance is the first comment on your product page. Typically, the first comment on a new product page is from the Maker, CEO, or Chief Product Officer and its goal is to welcome people to the page. The first comment is a great opportunity to introduce people to your product and tell them more about it.
First, it is important that the first comment is friendly, conversational, and ignites conversation. Avoid general statements about how amazing your product is. Instead, explain what you do, convey value, and highlight your product’s use cases and target audience. At the same time, avoid over explaining and trying to fit every detail about your product in. Get specific but keep space open for questions and conversation.
This will get people interested and lead them to ask questions right away in the comments.
Another great thing to include in your first comment is your company's mission. Including your mission statement or the reasoning behind why you're doing what you're doing is a great way to get people interested and to take notice of what you do.
Lastly, focus on making your first comment easy to read. Instead of a wall of text, format your comment with line breaks, bullet points, emojis, and other formatting that makes it visual and easy and fun to read.
When should you post your first comment on your product page?
After you’ve optimized your product page and are getting ready for launch, that is the time to post your first comment. The exact timing isn’t that important, but it is recommended to do it anywhere from 1 day to a couple hours before launch. That way your comment will still seem recent and relevant, and it will go live simultaneously when the product page goes live.
Prep your social media posts for product launch
The last thing to do before launch day is to prepare your social media materials. It is recommended to prepare two to three posts. The first post should announce that your product is live and ask people to support you. Next, you could plan to post a mid-day update or behind-the-scenes photo. Lastly, it is good to post a wrap-up or thank you post at the end of the day that shows your ranking.
It is good to post updates throughout the day because it helps keep people engaged and it increases your chances of being seen by people in different time zones and on different schedules. It can also be helpful to keep the momentum going whenever there might be a lag or some downtime in the middle of the day.
Once you have your product page, first comment, and social media posts all ready and scheduled, you are ready to launch.
What to expect on Product Launch day
Congrats, it’s product launch day!
First, you want to get five to seven comments in the first hour of your product launch. It is important to be strategic about your first several comments because they will direct the conversation for the rest of the day.
Now, if you're based in Israel, then you some extra leverage. The voting day starts earlier for us than it does in the U.S., so we have more hours to work the Israeli network and gain traction before the U.S. audience wakes up. This will help make your product seem popular when they sign on and can help you rank higher, be more noticeable, and gain more attention and traction.
Start by engaging with the communities you are part of. Get your momentum going by posting on social media, posting in professional forums, and sending out a newsletter or a direct text to your network. It might feel kind of spammy, but this is basically the only day when people will let you spam them and they'll nice to you, so take advantage!
An example message would be something like, “Hey [name], I'm sorry to bother you, but we've just launched our product that we've been working on for the past six months. I would love to have your support if you want to upvote or comment on my page.”
If someone agrees to comment on your page, it is a good idea to have a repository of questions or comments that they can add. That way, they can just post it and be done with it. This makes it super easy for them and they don’t need to spend any of their time thinking of a good comment. It also gives you the opportunity to inject any of your talking points into the discussion and to ask questions that encourage interesting debate.
Once your page starts getting comments, it is a good idea to have the Makers respond to every comment — even if it is just a generic response like “thank you” or “It's great to see you here.” Of course, they should try to add value to the conversation where they can and give an in-depth answer, but otherwise just a simple “thank you” is helpful to boost the ranking.
At some point during the day, you may find yourself direct texting people you haven't seen in the last five years to ask for support. Whoever you can reach out to keep the momentum going, right? This part might be awkward, but whatever it takes! Remember, meaningful comments are the biggest factor for high rank.
Product Hunt Hacks
One hack to widen your network is a community barter. Find communities that have high traction but low incentive to help you out normally. Go to them asking for their support on your launch while offering something in return. For example, ask them for 50 comments on your page in exchange for a 1-hour educational webinar about building content strategy. Find a way to partner with them that has a high ROI for you both.
Another hack is to adopt an “I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine” approach. Find communities in your network, ask around to find people who are planning a launch in the next six months, and offer your company to support their launch. In exchange, as for them to support your launch and upvote and comment on your page. It is a good idea to secure this exchange ahead of your launch.
Lastly, the best tip that anyone can give you is to simply be nice to people all year long and build your community in advance. That way, when you need your community to help you with your launch, everyone is happy to be there for you.
Key takeaways: Product Hunt Product Launch
You’ve completed a Product Hunt launch, congrats!
While Product Hunt can be confusing and intimidating at first, remember that it's all about creating value and leveraging your network. Focus on creating a descriptive, eye-catching product page, prepare good comments that create conversation, engage with comments throughout the day, and leverage your network however you can so you can build support around you. The bigger network you have, the more likely you are to rank highly. When you boil it down, it is quite simple!
Remember that product launch day is just a piece of the puzzle
“It's really an emotional roller coaster: Product Hunt becomes your life. You are engaged in it. It's what you do… It's hard to explain before somebody has done it, it really consumes you.”
No matter what, the 24 hours of any product launch day are going to be an emotional roller coaster. For those 24 hours, Product Hunt will become your life and consume you. It's hard to explain, but you’ll finish the day very tired. Then suddenly, one minute after the 24 hours pass, the website refreshes and you have a new list, and you are no longer in the competition.
Roy describes that it feels something like ‘emptiness’ there for a second when it is over, but then you’ll realize that a Product Hunt product launch is simply - a good boost. Even if your product ranks number one, your product won’t necessarily be successful in the market, and vice versa. It should only be one part of your campaign, so be mindful of that and set the budget for launch day appropriately.
Ready to get started? Best of luck on your Product Hunt launch!
Speaking of which, if you’re also considering launching your own PR campaign - check out our Founder2Founder episode featuring Lama’s Omri Yacubovich, discussing how he DIY’d his own startup PR launch and landed Venture Beat.
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