Ah, Product Hunt. The name brings chills and excitement to even the most seasoned of founders. PH can be a great platform to attract a large user base and get valuable feedback. Or it can have you questioning whether your idea is worth anything at all. Regardless of your opinions on Product Hunt, it’s hard to deny that it’s a powerful stage for launching your product. We’ve been hunted twice, and have spent countless days researching every intricacy of the platform we could unravel. And while we weren’t the most upvoted product in PH’s history (the guy with that claim to fame now works for Product Hunt), we’ve learned a lot along the way – both do’s and don’ts – and we’re sharing that with you today.
Disclaimer: Product Hunt is young and ever-changing, so things will likely change after this guide is published. That said, the overarching principles of the platform likely won’t.
It doesn’t take much. Follow some users, upvote some posts, and make a few collections.
Just like other karma-based communities (e.g. Hacker News), Product Hunt’s most influential users are also the most active. This means that you (understandably) can’t just make an account and expect that your upvote will count as much as a PH veteran’s. Before you launch on Product Hunt, make sure you and your team are active on the site, upvoting hunts, following users, and making collections. PH is deeply integrated with Twitter, so being active also means following PH users on Twitter and retweeting, replying to, and favoriting tweets. All of the Attentiv team had active accounts prior to both launches, and some of us even had commenting and hunting privileges (because we were listed as ‘makers’ for Attentiv).
Pro Tip: These same recommendations also go for anybody else in your network who’d be likely to upvote your product when you launch, so make sure your family, friends, and super-users have accounts and are active on the site well in advance.
Time it right
Timing is key on Product Hunt. A miscalculation could cause you to flounder at the bottom of the page and get no visibility, but a well-timed post might just get you the traction you need. Looking at PH user data, you can see that Tuesdays are the most active in terms of comments and votes. West coast residents, set your alarm clocks for an early morning. You want to target the 4.5 hour window between 2:30 AM PST (5:30 AM EST) and 7 AM PST for your launch. This window gets you international users in addition to the early risers on both coasts. Keep in mind that, while this has been our experience with launches on PH, you can test things out before your launch by hunting products at different times and during different days of the week.
Analysis done by Kartik Mandaville. Check out his full breakdown on Medium.
Look for influencers
Only 2,000 PH-selected users can actually post to Product Hunt’s “Featured” page directly. Posts by users outside of this special 2k are piled into the oft-neglected “Upcoming” section. Since your launch will be wildly more effective if you’re on the featured section, you need to find one of those privileged users. Do some research and find the most active people on Product Hunt to narrow down a list of influencers. Influencers can give you hunting and commenting privileges, but they can also be extremely useful for your own launch. Use PH and Twitter to interact with and get to know influencers. Follow them, retweet them, and talk to them! Maybe even invite them for an exclusive beta of your product. And when the time comes for your Product Hunt launch, you can reach out to them and ask if they’d be willing to hunt your product. An influencer’s post is also more likely to get noticed than a new user’s, giving you some instant credibility for your product. After you’ve launched, reach out to any other influencers you’ve spoken with and ask them to check out your post.
We compiled a list of influencers using the leaderboard you see above, following them on PH and Twitter. After engaging with a few on Twitter, we offered an influencer an exclusive invite to beta test Attentiv 2.0. He liked what he saw, and was happy to list us on Product Hunt.
Offer an exclusive
An “exclusive” is a unique way to get some visibility on PH. By offering PH users an exclusive discount, you get to schedule when your product will be posted to the featured page in advance and you get a star next to your listing, which could definitely earn you some more traffic and extra signups. For example, the first time our product was posted on PH, we gave exclusive discounts to PH users for our paid options which enabled us to schedule our post in advance for 2:30am and got us that gold star that you can see in the photo above. This also shows some loyalty to a tight-knit community, and the potential payoff is worth it. You can only do this once, so make sure you maximize your use of that little star. Check out this page to get started on the exclusive offer process.
Build and keep track of an ‘upvote network‘
If you’ve accrued some followers on PH, make sure you tell them about your launch so they have a chance to upvote.
Reach out to everybody in your network with a PH account, including all team members, friends, family, investors, and anybody else you’ve contacted that’s been active on the site. And if they haven’t been active, gently ask them to build some collections, make some hunts, and upvote some listings. Compile a list of all these users since you’ll want to involve these people so that you can get traction on the site. This is where those influencers will also really come in handy. Again, the deep Twitter integration with PH is your friend here. Use PH to see who’s following you on Twitter and don’t be afraid to ask them to check out your PH post via DM. They’re already following you on social media, which means they’re probably happy to help you out.
We built a spreadsheet with contact info for everybody in our network, giving them updates on our launch plan and instructions for what to do when we finally got listed. Keeping this process organized was key for us, since we could accurately estimate how well we would fare right after launch.
Share your story
We immediately jumped on our PH listing and explained our story so we were at the top of the discussion.
Why did you start your company or decide to create your product? If you have a relatable story to tell about your pain point, tell it in the discussion on your product page. This serves as a great introduction and gives some background to the people behind the product, a cool feature I’ve only seen on Product Hunt. We made sure to be the first ones to comment on our listing page, which made it more likely that our comment would be upvoted and stick at the top. A brief but relatable introduction sets the foundation for more comments while also expounding on the problem you’re looking to solve. We found that users are happy to chat with the founder, and this intro is what makes you approachable.
Make it an AMA
Turn your listing into an informational ask-me-anything by inviting questions in your introduction post and promptly responding to the comments. This will keep up engagement while clarifying what your product is trying to accomplish. You’ll need commenting privileges for this, so make sure you have that ahead of launch. We stayed on the lookout for questions and comments throughout the day, responding quickly and thoughtfully to each. Engagement makes your listing page look busy, which will attract more people to your site to see what the fuss is about.
Do NOT send out a direct link
When you ask others to check out your listing, don’t copy/paste the direct link to your PH listing page and email (or IM, Tweet, Facebook message, etc.) to friends. PH is big on naturally letting the community vote for the best of products, so if they see a ton of traffic coming from someone who blasted out a direct link, they will adjust for that algorithmically and not count those votes as strongly. This is to ensure nobody’s manipulating the rankings.
Instead, ask users to search for you from the PH homepage.
Reach out to old voters
If you’ve listed something on PH before, look for all the users who previously upvoted you. This is easy to do – simply open up your old listing and everyone who upvoted it will be listed there. Then you can tweet at them, asking them to check out your new listing. This is a surprisingly effective tactic, as we’ve noticed people who upvoted us previously are happy to do so again.
Thank your voters
Give every user who upvoted you a personalized thank you on Twitter, which is a surprisingly common act in this tight-knit community. Don’t be creepy though…some listers have gone to extremes like making personalized YouTube thank you videos. Cool in concept, but maybe just a little over the top?
Ask your users
Through an email campaign, ask your existing users to checkout your post on Product Hunt and to let their networks know about it. Hopefully your current users are already big fans, and will be happy to do so. Relay the message on all your social media accounts and even send out a notification to your blog subscribers.
Pro-tip: If you’ve used PH for a launch before, you can track users who converted from PH previously and send out a targeted email campaign to them letting them know about the new listing. You know those users liked your previous version or product, and that they may have PH accounts. Use that to your advantage.
None of these are guaranteed to make your product the best thing to ever hit Product Hunt. Product Hunt is built to naturally let users discover, vote for, and share the best products. At the end of the day, regardless of your planning, a successful launch rides on whether or not the PH audience likes your idea and maybe a little bit of luck to boot.
Have any tips we didn’t mention? Share them with us in the comments below!