Product Hunt – for many startups seen as a launchpad to reach new customers and early adopters. It’s one of those things you have to do if you’re in tech. It’s worth noting from the beginning, you should be building things worth hunting (a.k.a. no shipping crap!).
Since starting Deekit the team have launched 5 different products:
- Deekit (the original) – 314 upvotes (our first release with no preparation).
- Deekit for iPad – 76 upvotes
- Deekit 2.0 – 391 upvotes
- Deekit Premium – 282 upvotes
- Deekit 5.0 – 313 upvotes
The first time we were hunted, as we mentioned above we were totally unprepared. It came off the back of us being featured in TechCrunch. The whole thing was done on the fly! The next releases were all our own doing though and in the weeks before them we studied every do and don’t article we could find on the internet. We didn’t want to get caught out. Each one had it’s own focus, but one thing we found out to be 100% true, was that there are a ton of myths that surround how to launch on Product Hunt (funny, we know!).
What is even more ironic, is that we wanted to actually add to this mass of debate ourselves.
We don’t work at Product Hunt, we don’t know Ryan Hoover but we have tried to win the PH game several times. So here are some of the common myths that surround it and based on our experience, whether we found them to be true or not!
Posting direct links to your Product Hunt launch page is bad – FALSE
Not just most of the Product Hunt ‘guides’ out there but most people you pitch your product listing to tell you this. They tell you firing out the direct link to your post is a bad idea. Folklore has it that the Product Hunt algorithm penalises products that advertise direct links.
We call bullsh*t.
Firstly, it’s impossible for Product Hunt to know who is promoting a certain product. What about if one of your upvoters could be sharing your product with a colleague? Should you be punished? This is totally out of your hands. As much as algorithms have come on, they can’t read minds and all of our intentions just yet.
On every product listing it’s possible to share to social too. By clicking the ever-present Tweet or Share button, you generate a direct (yes, direct!) link to share to your social media channel of choice. It would be odd if this was inadvertently penalising your account…
If you needed any more proof of this. Then check out this article by Corley, the former COO of Product Hunt. She explicitly states that you should link directly to your product. Hell, she even highlights a tweet from Product Hunt back in 2016.
Getting someone well known in the Product Hunt community to hunt you is a good idea – TRUE
If it’s easy to get it set up…
Having a well known community member or ‘Hunter’ post your product is said to have a few perks. You gain access to their followers. If you need help finding one, we’d recommend checking out 500 Hunters, it’s a responsive collection of the most active hunters on the platform.
Your product also gains priority on the front page of Product Hunt if a Hunter posts it. We aren’t 100% sure if this is algorithm-based or the community team pushing it up themselves, but if someone well known posts your product, you will likely cement yourself closer to the top. In doing that you increase exposure and don’t have to do as much of the manual lifting.
However, here’s the catch. Sure the leg up on the front page is useful, but it can also be achieved by gaining some early traction. If have a loyal following, it’s possible to claim your place on the front page by getting those kick-ass upvotes and more importantly, comments.
It might be super easy for you to get a prominent hunter on board. If it is, use them. If it’s going to require legwork to make it happen, it may be easier just to push it out yourself and get the initial traction. We have tried both approaches and the ease of getting to the front page was definitely worth it, but we didn’t see a crazy increase on our numbers against when we didn’t have a hunter.
Timing a Product Hunt post with PR is a good idea – TRUE
Honestly, for our first appearance on Product Hunt, this was an insane advantage. We had just been featured on TechCrunch and were thrust into the tech spotlight. We expected the TC article, but didn’t expect the hunting that would follow.This had some pros and cons. On the one hand, we had to react and couldn’t overthink it. We played the Product Hunt game in it’s purest form. We didn’t have time to link build or anything like that. But on the other hand we missed an opportunity. If it was possible to time both, we could leverage our time in the spotlight more.
So if you can make it happen, we would 100% suggest trying to time a big press release with a hunting. That way you increase your coverage throughout the media and can really push towards maximum exposure (and new users).
Comments beat upvotes – TRUE
Product Hunt is built on engagement. The same way that Facebook comments push posts up your timeline more than likes do, we think PH comments have more of an impact than upvotes do. Not only that but we suspect that the algorithm ranks users based on their contribution to the community. This will directly impact your position too.
When invited your users/friends/random people on the internet to help you out during your launch, you will be met by some who tell you they can’t post. This is because they don’t have contributor status yet. There’s a help post all about how to become a contributor. Make sure your team are set before you launch. 😉
Post at midnight PST and have the most time to kick ass and take names (on the leaderboard) – FALSE
The rankings are dynamic. This means that throughout the day it’s possible to move up and down based on any traction your product is receiving. This means that it’s maybe even better to finish stronger and climb up the leader board as the day goes on. This is a risky strategy, but if you believe your product’s going to be a hit and you have the community to back you up with upvotes and comments, we would recommend it.
Our Hunter for our latest release, Bram, actually told us the best time to post is 3-4am PST. Also on the day we posted one product was flying ahead of the rest for 12 hours of the day but then despite higher numbers, lagged behind in 4th place by the end.
Another reason you want to finish strong is that it’s important to get in the top 10. That way you are featured on the Daily Digest and are likely to receive an additional injection of traffic to your product. It’s definitely worth it.
Posting on different days of the week (and of the year) has an impact – TRUE
The day you post on definitely has an impact on your end result with Product Hunt. We sourced an awesome chart which shows the number of upvotes on each day of the week to help us work it out.
It goes without saying that weekends are a bad idea. People aren’t looking for new products to try then. Equally, Fridays aren’t great either. Most people will be heading offline at 5pm for the weekend meaning your 24 hour race to the top of the leaderboard is shortened. We actually launched Deekit Premium on a Friday and it didn’t end as well as we’d hoped. Our traction and traffic died a thousand deaths after around midday PST.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday should be your preferred slot, with Thursday an option too.
We have also found that the time of year you post has a big impact on how you do. For us, we have found that during our latest Summer launch, traffic was significantly lower (as it is on Deekit itself). We can only blame this on people catching some sun and taking a break, something we know we should do too! This was backed up as many of the 1-to-1 asks we did for upvotes were met with ‘Sorry, I’m away for vacation right now!’.
The same can be said for the Christmas period. It’s notoriously quiet across every business sector apart from retail. Tech is no different. So avoid it.
We know releases shouldn’t be delayed, but if you have the chance to choose your season, we’d shoot for Spring or Autumn, it may move the needle a few percent for you. 😉
Posting on the day of a big company’s release is a bad idea as you’ll never beat them – FALSE
As we’ve already mentioned an important part of your launch is being featured on the front page. We have always avoided posting on Monday’s to miss competing with a big company’s release. The last thing we thought we wanted was to go live on a Google/Facebook/Instagram release date. We’re starting to think this is a wrong call way of looking at it.
If you rank towards the top end of the front page then this additional influx of traffic from a big release is nothing but beneficial. Why wouldn’t you want to post on a day when there is several multiples more of traffic than other days?
We didn’t do it because of ego. We thought we could ‘win the game’ and come out on top. When in reality, we should have focused more on the end goal. A 3rd place finish that generates 30% more users is better than a 1st place that only massages your ego.
You should create personalized landing pages & offers to take away as much as possible – TRUE
When preparing for Product Hunt it’s important to make the whole thing personalized for the audience you’re about to pitch to. You should be viewing your listing as any other advertisement you have. A unique landing page is crucial and make sure you have a great offer set up too. Some of your upvoters could become your biggest customers, so make them feel special from the start.
By giving upvoters an offer they can’t refuse, you will inevitably increase sign ups and usage of your product. Many PH community members are influencers in their own right, it’s worthwhile having them on board!
Posting different releases of the same product will see repeated results – FALSE
While Product Hunt is one of the go-to communities in the startup space, there are only so many early adopters you can get onboard from there. They do keep growing but the core following often remains the same. And yes, that core community may be a fan of your business and area of focus, but they may not appreciate or take notice of similar products popping up over and over again.
Your PH release shouldn’t be judged on upvotes or comments really. You should be looking at the hard numbers. The new users you’ve gained and the new trials that have started. It’s highly likely that ‘the community’ have checked out your product on a previous submission or even signed up. They might already be a user. They might give you another chance if they fell off the bandwagon, but there’s the risk you’re retargeting to a group of people who have already been sold and decided on your proposition.
From our experience each release we have done meets less traction when it comes to upgraded versions Deekit. The features are innovative, the UI and UX have altered dramatically and still we don’t see the crazy numbers we’d hoped to get. They’re still good, but not great.
Our advice here would be not to overdo it. If you’re presenting a totally new product then go for it. But if you’re re-hashing something that’s already been posted it might be worth holding out to those hypothetical Product Hunt posting coins and spend them another time.
Automated tools can help increase your exposure and save you time – TRUE
Any article you read is going to tell you to make lists of people to contact. Those in the ‘startup scene’ or the techies on your contact list are more likely to upvote, so you want to ‘politely ask them’ first to swing you a vote or comment. But what if you could do the messaging on autopilot.
Well, you can.
This time around, to save us time on those personal asks and to give us more room for spreading the word, we setup Linked Helper to mass message our LinkedIn contacts with a personalized message. To make it all legit, we used some sweet syntax to customise the messaging. If you’re reading this and you thought I’d reached out directly, I’m sorry, it was me, but wasn’t me if that makes sense (oops!).
Using that tool for example meant I reached out directly to 967 contacts (who I’d segmented) on LinkedIn. They didn’t all upvote us, we ended up with 311 upvotes on that occasion, but when looking through the list of upvotees, a fair few appear in there.
This isn’t the only way to do this either. There are tons of social media automation tools out there that can be directly messaging your users, just do some digging around what’s working at the moment. Good places to look are some of the more well-known Facebook groups for marketers such as Badass Marketers and Founders (BAMF) or SaaA Growth Hacks.
The bottom line is, there are tools that can do the legwork for you. Think outside the box and get them setup in advance of your launch. 😉
Following up with everyone who upvotes you with a thank you is a good idea – FALSE
We had read this was a good idea. Turn out it’s not…
We used a tool to pull out the twitter handles from our product page the day following our launch and the plan was to reach out them all on Twitter and thank them. We started doing just that but were pulled up by one of the Product Hunt community managers who told us that it wasn’t seen as good practice and was actually a little spammy.
We see their point.
So a lesson we’ve learnt is one you can have a takeaway from too. Don’t follow up with the users and try to get any additional engagement. Work with the people you have acquired during the hunt itself!
So there yo have it! We hope we have debunked a few Product Hunt myths here and there are some things you attack your next launch with. Ultimately Product Hunt success is based on having a great product, but there are definitely some tactics you can use to get the most out of it.
If you’re looking to launch soon, don’t forget to check out our Product Hunt Checklist which will help you get prepared: