How to get and what is the impact of 1000+ upvotes on Product Hunt
1000+ upvotes, and #2 product of the day on October 19, 2017. That’s what happened on the day we got hunted on Product Hunt without being prepared for it. It was a stressful long day, but, in the end, the outcome was worth it, and it’s now a success story worth sharing.
The initial plan
Three days earlier, Froala Design Blocks was officially released. We weren’t going to the battle empty-handed, but we thought that the time it takes for our product to get traction would be enough for us to focus on Product Hunt. So we had this simple plan in our minds:
Make a clear TODO list for the Product Hunt launch day.
With a limited number of hours in a PH day, focusing all your energy on following a checklist of well planned and structured actions could lead you to success.
Find and build relationships with influencing hunters that like our product and might be interested in hunting it.
An influencing hunter adds more visibility to your product. Besides having the possibility to list you on the Product Hunt first page, at the right hour, a good hunter is also an active community member, has lots of Twitter followers and that usually turns into more upvotes for you.
Long story short, we got hunted too early, without having our plan in place.
When this happens, you’re not screwed, you just have to keep calm and improvise a lot.
Why did it happen? We started working on the initial PH plan after the launch of our new product. As a free and open source product, it quickly gained popularity and got hunted at the wrong hour, by an unknown hunter who hasn’t even been active on Twitter for months.
Our main competitor on Product Hunt on that day was Siftery. They already had the experience of some very successful launches, among them the winner of the Community Product of the year in 2016. The #1 hunter on PH hunted their product, and, at that moment, he was part of the Siftery team.
How we tackled it?
Key ingredients: coffee, determination, and some luck (although I don’t believe in luck, but that’s a totally different story). Avoid panic and sleep.
The first thing was to become a maker and add more details about the product. Time was short, so we contacted the PH team directly on their website. Their reply was music to our ears:
I’ve scheduled you for a full day on the front page of PH tomorrow. 😸
We never asked for this, I assume they liked our product and scheduled it for the PH first page for a full day, starting with 12 AM PST, the best time for the largest audience.
This gave us 9 hours to update the product details on Product Hunt, do some homework and read all articles we could find about a successful PH launch, and then get some sleep in the remaining time if any 😄.
We created a TODO list of things to start with after 12 AM PST. The list was far from complete, but we continued adding to it as much as we could during the PH day.
I believe our final lists with resources and tips could help you save a lot of time, avoid mistakes and maximize the probability of success for your next (or current) Product Hunt launch. For this reason, I’m going to share them along with my final notes, conclusions and the results of our successful Product Hunt launch.
Tips & Tricks
Don’t trust all the Internet resources.
Sometimes, I had the feeling that the purpose of some resources is to take you down. I recommend trusting only resources that have some proof or seem reasonable. If your guts tell you to ignore them, go to the next one.
Sharing the PH link to your product is not bad.
Some users share it anyway after they upvote. There is no difference between their post and yours if you’re not begging for upvotes, but announcing your success or asking for feedback.
Add a button with visible CTA to get people on PH.
There is no way for PH community members that visit your website to know that you just launched your product on PH if you don’t tell them. Don’t ask for votes, but let people know you are there, and it’s their choice if they upvote or not.
Split the traffic you can bring to PH throughout the entire day.
You’re definitely going to post on FB and Google+ communities to raise some awareness. Make sure you don’t post in all of them at once so that you can keep a constant growth rate or velocity. Schedule your posts in each community based on the number of members and different time zones.
Create different messages for different communities.
Each community has its specifics, and the messages that you post must be custom written for each of them to increase the chance of people checking it out. Don’t post your product in communities where nobody needs it. You shouldn’t focus only on the numbers, think about your product and how it’s useful to people.
Being polite has a limit.
It’s polite to show appreciation to people who upvote your product. However, I wouldn’t mention people on social networks to say “thanks for the upvote”. To me, this sounds like asking for upvotes from those who see your message.
Don’t send the same DM on Twitter.
Twitter will block you if you send the same DM too many times. You’ll need to get in touch with many people through DM. Take your time to know each person you want to reach and write a personal DM.
While Product Hunt says that all votes are equal, they are not very open about the algorithm behind the ranking process. If you feel something is not fair play, then don’t do it.
The Product Hunt algorithm?
We’re pretty happy that we managed to pull off #2 product of the day given the circumstances. However, this whole adventure left us with lots of question marks, since we had a lot more upvotes than the #1 product of the day. What could’ve caused this disconnection? We have lots of assumptions some of them are true others are not. Let’s go through them together:
Quality of upvotes
This myth has been busted already by the guys from PH. They say all upvotes are equal. There is no way to prove it, but there are a lot of other aspects they’re keeping secret, so at least let’s take this one for granted.
We probably had both: high quality and low quality upvotes. We got our product posted in the Female Founder collection, by directly getting in touch with the creator, the COO of PH. This brought us upvotes from many influential people on the PH team.
Planning the best day to launch on PH is almost impossible. There’s no way of knowing who is going to get hunted tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. You might find yourself running against a Google product. That’s perfectly fine. Hitting the top 5 is always a great accomplishment.
What if the competitor already had some successful launches on Product Hunt? Would this influence the credibility of the domain name or the makers?
After analyzing several successful Product Hunt launches, a pattern begins to form: most of them are preceded by an investment. I was going to ignore this “hunch”, but then Amazon Key got featured in the Product Hunt Daily Digest exactly on the same day it was hunted on Product Hunt.
How’s that for fair play? Perhaps this was not intended, but even so, I believe the guys from Product Hunt should be careful with stuff like that.
The hunter weights more in the ranking algorithm
An influential hunter will help your product have a higher reach, and get more upvotes. I believe this is the main reason you should seek a good hunter. In our case, our product had a higher number of upvotes, and since all upvotes are equal, we could say that the hunter did not influence our result.
Theoretically, 99% of disconnections between upvotes and ranking are due to a penalty. The truth is, you’ll never know if you got a penalty or not if you haven’t tried to cheat the system on purpose. There is no email, message or warning to tell you this.
Timing & Velocity
Both metrics matter. The ranking algorithm takes into account the time since submission. We did get hunted about 10 hours earlier and then listed on the PH first page at 12 AM PST. Our timing was not ideal, but the disconnection happened near the end of the day, so that’s not it.
Velocity refers to the number of upvotes your product gets in a certain amount of time. Could a sudden increase in velocity trigger a red flag in the PH algorithm? Let’s say you have an average velocity of 100 upvotes/hour and all of a sudden you get 200 upvotes in the next hour.
I pledge guilty for this one. We made an email campaign and sent it to over 2500 addresses to showcase our new product, letting them know our future plans and asking for feedback. Nothing too commercial, and PH was just another link at the end of the email.
The best approach for this would’ve been to segment the email list and send the emails to different segments at different hours.
Behavior says a lot about the person behind the screen. This is something I would consider looking into if I were Product Hunt. Did users interact with your product’s page in any way before upvoting or they just hit the upvote button?
Source / Medium
I’m not talking about paid traffic. Did the upvotes come from a direct link to the product’s page or from finding the product on the PH first page?
It makes sense to also rank products based on comments and not just upvotes. Comments denote a higher degree of interest in your product than upvotes. We were very happy to have a pretty active interaction with our users, and this counts more than the disconnection or the rank number.
Let me show you the bigger picture of this story: Froala Design Blocks is not our only nor our first product. We’ve been using the froala.com domain since 2013, and it also hosts our other 4 years old product, a WYSIWYG editor.
Traffic spike and backlinks
Traffic spikes are the most common result that everyone expects, and they usually die out as fast as they happened. But here comes in the benefits of a free product: lots of websites picked up the news, and we ended up with lots of backlinks. This meant for us new referrals, new traffic sources, and kept our traffic at a higher level than before, even after the spike died.
Increased Google Search position
This is probably one of the most important achievements for us. Scoring high in google searches, has always been a must for us, and the last 0.1s are the hardest to get. After the PH campaign, in just 5 days, we’ve seen an increase for the “WYSIWYG editor” keyword from 1.7 to 1.1. That’s simply wow.
Increase in social network followers
News spread fast, and the bigger the network, the higher your reach is. Even so, our goal is to have, first of all, quality followers. They’re not only numbers; they’re those people that are truly interested in our products. This is exactly what the Product Hunt launch brought us.
Reach more users
We have dedicated our company to helping developers by creating tools for them. Froala Design Blocks put our WYSIWYG editor in the hands of many developers, and they loved it.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows” — Rocky Balboa
At the end of the day, we had a beer and went to bed excited that we got through this experience which pushed us ahead of our roadmap.
Product Hunt has become a pretty important marketing channel for both startups and big companies, and I can now totally see why. It really helped us get our product into the hands of the right people and spread the word around the Internet with great speed.
The biggest mistake we made was not having the PH initial planning ready before the product release. Getting through this experience unprepared beforehand saved us a lot of time and got me wondering if the huge amount of time startups spend preparing for a Product Hunt launch is really worth it.
I’m looking to learn and understand more about Product Hunt, and I’m sure my story covers only part of it. Let’s gather more information by sharing your experience and tips in the comments below 🙌.