Is your target audience on Instagram? Want to launch your next product without using ads?
In this article, you’ll discover an organic Instagram strategy for your next product launch.
Why Instagram Is the Ideal Social Media Platform for Product Launches
If you want to launch a new product without paid marketing campaigns, you need a social media platform that has excellent organic reach and engagement. Although organic reach and engagement have declined across all social media channels in recent years, Instagram's median rates remain relatively high.
According to RivalIQ's 2022 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report, on average, Instagram stories reach as much as 5% of your total follower count. The smaller your customer base is, the better your reach typically looks. For example, Instagram accounts with fewer than 10,000 followers average 5% story reach, while accounts with more than 200,000 followers generally achieve less than 1% reach.
Although reaching your viewers is an important first step, ideally, you want them to engage with your content and share it with their friends. Across all industries, the same report says Instagram has a median engagement rate of 0.67%. Top-performing brands typically achieve a median engagement rate that's more than two times higher (1.39%) so you can expect more comments and shares if your brand has a particularly active audience.
While these engagement rates might not sound overly impressive, they're higher than the average for other social media platforms. Other platforms like Facebook and Twitter have median engagement rates that are as low as half of Instagram's median numbers.
As important as reach and engagement are, a successful product launch plan also requires content formats and features that resonate with your target audience. From Reels and Stories to interactive stickers and countdown timers, Instagram has a ton of options for engaging your audience and making your message stick.
While an Instagram shop isn't a requirement for launching a product on Instagram, making your products shoppable can certainly help with driving sales. Below, we'll look at how to add product tags to newly launched items, and other tools to use when Instagram eCommerce isn't an option for your brand or product.
#1: How to Launch a Product Using Native Instagram Tools
One of the biggest mistakes brands make with product launches is failing to talk about them before they actually happen. If you don't take steps to build hype until the product is already available in stores, you've likely missed out on tons of opportunities to get prospective customers excited about your new offer. That's why the first step in setting up a product launch is teasing it.
What's the best way to tease and boost a product launch on Instagram?
Use these tactics to engage your audience and create buzz around your newest digital or physical products.
Announce New Products in Instagram Broadcast Channels
One of the newest ways to tease upcoming launches is to announce them in broadcast channels. This outlet offers a couple of unique perks. Since broadcast channels deliver content directly to subscribers' DMs, any announcement you share via this channel is likely to get a higher percentage of views than it would in the feed or in Stories.
Although subscribers can't comment on broadcast channel updates, they can react to content and share it to their stories. So while you can't expect a lot of in-channel engagement with broadcast announcements, you can encourage subscribers to share the new products you reveal there, which can help you get the word out and build your channel.
The main downside to broadcast channels is that as of May 2023, their availability is still relatively limited. They've rolled out to a select group of creator accounts, including @zuck, who frequently shares new projects and teases new features in his Meta channel.
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If you want to make broadcast channels part of your product launch strategy, you may have to wait a little longer. If your brand has a business account, you may also have to consider switching to a creator account, as broadcast channels currently work with creator accounts only.
Tease Product Launches With Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is the ideal format for teasing new products for a couple of reasons. First, stories automatically archive after 24 hours so you don't have to worry about what to do with non-evergreen content on your grid. Second, story stickers offer nearly a dozen options for interactive content creation around your upcoming launch.
One tactic that's worked well for my social media clients is using Instagram's poll and question stickers to start conversations about upcoming products. For example, I've used poll stickers to ask followers which features (i.e., flavors, colors, or any other quality) they want the brand's next product to have.
The key is making sure that all of the poll choices are options or features you're planning to launch. That way, no matter which one followers choose, they can still look forward to the new product.
Poll stickers are great for gauging interest but question stickers are even better for having more in-depth conversations with your audience. For example, you can use question stickers to get followers to ask about new features or place guesses about the new product. Then you can reply to the best responses with a new set of stories, which can generate even more buzz around the launch.
Build Anticipation With Instagram Countdowns and Reminders
Stories also support reminder and countdown stickers, which are some of Instagram's best tools for product launches. With reminders, you can create in-app events (i.e., product launches) and cross-promote them in Stories and the feed. Whether you add reminder stickers to stories or reminder buttons to feed posts, Instagram users can opt to get alerts about your upcoming launch date so they'll be more likely to join in and purchase.
The only catch with reminders is that you have to set them up by creating a feed post with an attached event. Once you've created the event via the feed, you can tap to add a Scheduled sticker to an Instagram story and select any of the events you've set up. Then anyone who sees the story can tap to get a reminder about your upcoming launch date.
Countdown stickers are similar to reminders but have a couple of key differences. Countdown stickers don't require setup via the feed so you can use them to recommend launches exclusively in stories. In addition to letting users opt into notifications, these stickers also invite users to share the countdown to their own stories. That means countdowns can be ideal for spreading the word about an upcoming launch date.
Below, the @shopbando story (pictured on the left) shares a reel (pictured on the right), effectively cross-promoting an upcoming product launch across stories and the feed. The story uses a countdown sticker to drive additional interest and awareness around the launch. As you can see in the center image, users can tap to get an in-app reminder about the launch and share it to their stories.
#2: How to Sell Newly Launched Products Using Native Instagram Tools
It’s not enough to build interest in and demand for new products. You have to make it easy for customers to buy your products.
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Use the following tactics to improve sales from Instagram.
Feature New Products on Your Profile With Instagram Story Highlights
You don't necessarily have to let stories disappear after their 24 hours are up. To feature a new product launch prominently on your Instagram profile, add relevant stories to a single highlight. You can add any active or archived story to a highlight by tapping the Highlight button at the bottom of the screen. If you're creating a new highlight, you'll need to add a title and a highlight cover.
Below, @omsom features the brand's saucy noodles launch in a dedicated story highlight. The first story introduces the product line, and each subsequent story showcases a new product. Most of the stories include link stickers so customers can easily tap to shop individual products or browse the entire line on the brand's website.
Keep in mind that the story highlight that appears first on your profile is the one that you've updated most recently. So if your account has multiple highlights that your team regularly updates, your product launch highlight might eventually get bumped to the back of the line. Make sure to update your product launch highlight by adding new stories to display it first on your Instagram profile.
Introduce New Products With Instagram Carousels
While stories tend to be ideal leading up to a launch, your brand's Instagram feed is often better for introducing newly available products. There's no right or wrong type of content to use for a product launch but Instagram carousels have the highest average engagement rate, making this format a good choice for an important announcement.
Since carousels support a mix of images and videos, they're great for showing several products in a new lineup. They also work well when you want to walk customers through some of a new product's most exciting features. Because Instagram often displays carousels in followers' feeds more than once—showing a different carousel card each time—this content type can give you multiple chances to get your launch in front of your audience.
Below, @grammarly uses a carousel post to introduce the software platform's new GrammarlyGO product. The first carousel card is an animated announcement and the subsequent cards walk customers through some of the AI writing tool's features. To improve awareness of the new product, @grammarly has pinned this post to the brand's Instagram grid.
You can pin a product launch post to your Instagram grid by opening any published post's menu and tapping Pin to Your Profile. Keep in mind that the post you've pinned most recently automatically displays first on your grid and you can pin up to three in total. So if you plan to pin several product post launch releases to your grid, select last the one that you want to display first.
Promote New Products With Instagram Reels
Although carousel posts typically outrank reels in terms of engagement, short-form videos tend to reach the most non-followers out of any type of Instagram content. So when you want to increase brand awareness among users who don't follow your Instagram account yet, reels can be a smart choice for product launches.
Below, @proactiv announces the skincare brand's latest product via short-form video. The short video highlights key features and benefits of the skincare patches, and the caption includes a short call to action (CTA) encouraging customers to shop via the link in the brand's bio.
Like @proactiv has done in the example above, you can pin product launch reels to your account's grid, as long as you've cross-posted the reel to the feed. You also have the option to pin up to three short-form videos to your reels grid, giving you two different ways to keep your new product front and center.
Want to make sure your product launch reels are actually reaching Instagram users outside of your current audience? Tap to view the insights and pay special attention to the reach breakdown. Instagram's in-app insights display reach for followers and non-followers so you can better understand who's seeing your new products in their feed.
Partner With Instagram Influencers on Giveaways
When you want to boost your new product outside of your current audience, influencer marketing is another smart option. By partnering with influencers, you can leverage their authority, connect with their follower bases, and get your product in front of their audiences.
Influencer unboxing and review videos often work well for introducing your product and improving awareness of your brand. But when you want to inspire their followers to act, a giveaway can be more effective. By sponsoring influencer giveaways, you can get new customers to follow your account, engage with your content, and browse your new products.
Make Products Shoppable With Instagram Product Tags
If you're launching new eCommerce products, you'll want to leverage Instagram's product tags. With product tags, you can make any reel, feed post, or story shoppable. This will encourage customers to make a purchase directly in the Instagram app or tap through to visit the eCommerce store on your website.
To enable product tags, you'll first need to configure an Instagram shop and upload inventory to Meta Commerce Manager. Once you've completed these steps, you can tap to add product tags to virtually any product post launch content you post on Instagram, including posts (below left), reels (below center), and stories (below right)—as long as the product is available in your Instagram shop.
An added benefit of featuring your eCommerce inventory in Instagram shops is that other accounts can use your product tags, too. That means influencers, business partners, and peers can also create content about your new products and make them shoppable. Since product tags take customers directly to the product listing in your Instagram shop, your supporters' followers can easily see all the specs, check the price, and even purchase without leaving the app.
Don't have an eCommerce site or qualify for an Instagram shop? For stories, link stickers—like in the @omsom story highlight above—are great for directing customers to an external site. For Instagram posts and reels, a “link in bio” CTA is your best bet for driving traffic.
From posts and reels to stories and broadcast channels, brands have plenty of options for promoting new products via Instagram marketing. Using these tactics, marketers can build successful product launch campaigns on Instagram without having to budget for ads.
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