Product Hunt Power: What Companies Can Learn from An Online Community

The Journey

When I finally published Culture Your Culture: Innovating Experiences @Work, the *really* hard part was just beginning. I’m a first time author, not yet known, vying for today’s most sought-after commodity: attention. What’s more, CYC is not your traditional business book and features Design of Work Experience (DOWE) — a.k.a. the real product — as a leading edge approach. I was (and still am) challenged to recruit early adopters beyond my client base and network. For these reasons, Product Hunt was the ideal community for me to join, a place for makers “to share and discover new products.” In other words, here was a virtual room full of kindred spirits and yes, early adopters. The first thing I did after joining was to hunt for products that suited my interests — I upvoted books, podcasts, fashion tech with positive social agendas, businesses that promoted women & entrepreneurship, studies, toys, and apps that promoted creativity & health. I loved finding new products I hadn’t heard about before and in some cases, these ended up being purchases for me (win-win!).

Next, I joined the new maker channel, where I observe conversations between fellow makers and check out people’s goals before dipping my toe in with “cheers” and comments of my own. Sometimes I posted questions, while in other instances I offered advice. I’m a list maker myself so I started sharing my own goals out there as a way of meeting new people, giving myself some accountability, and seeing that satisfying strikethrough when I marked an item complete. Cheers on my own posts were encouraging — they were proof that someone was reading and supporting me. A few weeks ago, I added a two minute quiz, “Do You Really Need Culture (Change)?”on my website’s landing page. I put it out there for makers to check out and give me feedback, and I got it. I followed some people and picked up some followers too — I saw this as a form of tacit networking. Others sent pitches to me about their products, which I always saw through to the end because I understand and appreciate the hustle. Even if I couldn’t use them, I can always keep them in mind for others that might. I did some pitching too. I reached out to a podcast on Product Hunt that promptly, but kindly declined. It turns out they referred me to another podcast host who booked me the next day. I especially appreciated interactions with the Product Hunt staff — they clearly care a lot about their website and the community within it. Because of all these small interactions and my overall experience on the platform, I’ve continued to post and share. Another bonus: after a couple of months of interactions on the platform, I made it to the Top 500 Hunters list. Getting on any good list makes my day.

Achieving the maker status on Product Hunt meant that I could share Culture Your Culture as a product too. I knew that books weren’t a focus or even typical on the site, but the way I saw it, my book is only a conduit to share Design of Work Experience, the much needed, step-by-step “how to” for designing, implementing, and sustaining work cultures where both business and people thrive. After a few exchanges with the wonderful tech support team on getting my page up, we went live. Soon after, I was so honored when Culture Your Culture became a featured product. The visibility increased my upvotes exponentially, and my purpose to share my work with new audiences was coming to life. The product page also gave me opportunity to help out a fellow author. He loved my video, so I hooked him up with the company I hired and they ended up working together.

My experience on Product Hunt was different than on any other platform. Where I am subject to newsfeed algorithms on social media, here is a place where everyone has equal footing to share and help each other out. No where else did I feel like I got the same type of exposure, validation, and encouragement. I was delighted to discover new people and products. As a mostly solopreneur, I received support from a community, and however small, I would count these interactions as working together.

Lessons to Learn

Product Hunt offers much more than connection and a great user experience. A community like this, built with a lot of good will, creates more good will. Such a culture is worth recognizing, and for other organizations regardless of industry, size, or maturity, there are lessons to be learned:

1. Give exposure to the underexposed. From a diversity standpoint, this adds richness to everyone’s experience when people discover and get discovered. There are so many unique voices worth hearing and they need a pathway to be heard. Conversely, if people are looking for something new, they should be able to find it.

2. Cultures where sharing our work, encouraging others, and offering help are norms not only make us warm and fuzzy, but they also offer great customer and employee experiences, brand loyalty, and high engagement — all desirable business achievements.

3. Innovation occurs when new connections are made. Having a platform where people, products, and services come together when they otherwise wouldn’t meet creates a whole new world of possibilities for those that want to reap the benefits.

4. Our human nature is coded to seek meaning — that includes meaningful work, relationships, and community alike. What Product Hunt has managed to do is to create an environment where people feel they are part of something meaningful. The fact that they have over a million users on the platform, 369K followers on Twitter, and 26.5K followers on Instagram (I want that!), not to mention a bunch of related offshoots, speaks for itself.

Think all this is just my interpretation? Check out this blog post by its founder Ryan Hoover, “How We Made Our First Dollar at Product Hunt” and you will see that many of these themes were intentionally created.

This is not to say that a company reading this should do what Product Hunt does. Doing so could actually backfire because the context is completely different. Instead, work should be done to determine how to achieve these characteristics, conditions, and results within each unique organization. Don’t know how? Design of Work Experience can help. Learn more at www.designofworkexperience.com or reach out. Thanks for reading!

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