A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO 🍻 WINNING 🍻 ON PRODUCT HUNT

One of my most requested playbooks is how to launch a product on Product Hunt. As Head of Growth at Noble Brewer, I successfully launched our startup on Product Hunt (read about it here), and I’ve used the same tactics to launch a few more products with relatively similar success.

This article assumes you know what Product Hunt is.

What to know beforehand

1. You have one shot per product launch at getting onto Product Hunt.

PH is not a scalable marketing channel. It is, however, a catapult for 1 week of momentum that will devolve into a decent trickle for up to 3 more months. So don’t half-ass it. Being on PH can result in viral sharing, PR, increased site traffic, notoriety in the startup community, organic search rankings, attention from potential investors, you name it. This truly is a game of you-get-what-you-put-into-it.

2. If you get hunted before you are ready, you get a second chance (kinda).

Sometimes someone will frantically reach out to me because a stranger hunted their product before they were ready to announce. That’s ok. Rather than spit in the stranger’s iced-latte, just reach out to PH support and let them know your product is not ready. They will hide the post and reopen it when you are ready. The potential downside of this is that when they reopen your submission, it’ll happen under the original hunter. So if you had someone influential in your pocket to submit you, you’ve lost that opportunity.

3. Take the time before your submission to become an engaged member of the community.

Don’t be a jerk. PH is a community. You can’t expect to just show up waving your product flag and have everyone jump for their credit cards. The magic of PH is its community. Participating on the platform will significantly increase your chances of being featured. You’ll be able to network with like-minded founders and potential users – these friends will become advocates that’ll help kick-start your hunt.

Product Hunt Ranking Factors

No one really seems to know (or wants to share) all the ranking factors but you’ll notice that sometimes lower upvoted products are above higher upvoted products on the leader board. So here are some theories around what else (outside of upvotes) might matter.

⇒ Quantity of comments. Focus on more entries rather than the quality of entries. Short responses are ok.

⇒ Authority of your Hunter. How much Product Hunt influence does the person hunting have?

⇒ Credibility of your upvotes. For instance, if someone joins PH for the first time that day and upvotes you, it’ll hold less weight than someone with an older/active account.

⇒ Quality of your engagement. There is some speculation that people who vote on your product via a direct link to it are weighted lower than those who come to it “organically” from the PH site.

⇒ Distribution of your engagement. Where your engagement traffic comes from might be a factor. For instance, if everyone in your office, on the same IP, jumps onto Product Hunt and upvotes/comments. It is thought that engagement from the same source is also deprioritized by the ranking algorithm.

Product Hunt Playbook

The following is a fairly comprehensive gameplan to get the most out of your Product Hunt experience. You should do alright if not totally awesome if you do most of these things. In a nutshell, the name of the game is engagement, credibility, and friendliness.

Set your Product Hunt goals

My experience is with early-stage pre-traction startups. We use Product Hunt as an amplifier for a go-to-market launch strategy. If you are in a similar situation, your PH goals may look something like this.

🏅 First day rank at/above 5th place so you are on the splash page
🏅 Second and third day rank at/above 11th place so you are visible for 3 days
🏅 400+ upvotes
🏅 30+ comments
🏅 Get mentioned in the PH’s weekly email wrapup
🏅 Get mentioned in the PH’s daily email newsletter

These last two are possible if you rank in 5th place or above, and show traction on the platform.

Up to 2 weeks before…

1. Talk to the successfully hunted. Reach out the founders on this 50 Most Upvoted Products list and ask them for any tips/tricks.

 

2. Find your Hunter. Ideally, your Hunter will have hunted other products before – this makes a huge difference. Influencers skip the vetting process when they hunt a product because they’re a trusted member of the network. This means you get listed as soon as they submit. And when they hunt a product, their entire PH network gets notified. Your visibility is much higher and more curated than if some random Joe posts you.

If you don’t know an influencer, you might have some luck reaching out to people on this 500Hunters list that have hunted products like yours. When you find your Hunter, send them the info they need to submit you properly. Here is the form, I suggest spelling out what you want in every field including images, category, etc.


3. Create a list of peers who might upvote/spread the word. On the day you are hunted, let them know you are being featured on PH and request an upvote and/or comment. They must already be on the platform (or be willing to sign up) to engage.

4. Product Hunters love a deal. It’s one of the reasons they’re such a voracious community. Create a limited-time PH exclusive offer – make it something special, add some humor, and interested parties will click through from PH to your website. I like to use Introbar to customize our website experience for people clicking through from PH.

5. Prepare your outreach campaign.  Whether it’s an announcement on social media, or a friends/family push, or an email you send out to your current users, or a combination of things… map out your plan ahead of time.

Day before The Hunt

1. Prepare your initial ‘thanks for hunting me’ post. Throw together a short paragraph explaining your unique product and PH offer. The minute you are hunted, throw that into the product feed (like these guys did).

 

2. Seed your comment field. Reach out to some of your product advocates and give them each a question to ask on the PH platform. These questions should be opportunities for you to answer with an explanation about your product. Prepare your answers ahead of time so you can reply immediately.

3. Determine when to be hunted. Common practice is to have your Hunter submit just after midnight PST. That’ll maximize the number of hours you are on the leaderboard for that day. Being highest on the leaderboard means more impressions which will lead to more engagement. It also gives you an advantage over later posters. Sometimes, it’s hard to recover if you are hunted after another product has over 300 upvotes.

Or, you can choose a time in the early morning you know you’ll get immediate engagement. Upvotes are not the only thing being ranked. Comments and probably social sharing also come into play. You can scoot to the top pretty quickly if you have a lot of initial traction.

Day of The Hunt

1. Go to your PH product page and get your Maker Badge. This allows you to comment.

2. Get the conversation going. Thank your Hunter on the forum and include your short friendly explanation of your product.

3. Keep the conversation going all 3 days. Reply to every single comment in a timely fashion. Respond from your personal twitter/FB account, not with your company profile account. People want to meet the maker, not hear from a faceless community manager.

4. Tweet.. a lot. Remember, everyone logs into PH with Twitter or Facebook. Show your love for PH and appreciation of your fans by responding publically. 

🐦 Tweet thank you’s and status updates at PH, they’ll probably respond and retweet to their network.
                       example: “Thx @producthunt for featuring us, we’re so excited! <link>”

🐦 Tweet status updates on your own profile
                       example: “OMG, we’ve just hit 300 upvotes on @producthunt! WhooHoo! <link to PH>”

🐦 Tweet thank you’s to people who upvote and comment on PH.
                       example: “Thx @person for upvoting us! We’re excited to be on @producthunt!”

🐦 Tweet PH comments and tag the person who made the comment.
                        example: “Quote… Thanks @person! @producthunt rocks!”

Post-Hunt

Continue riding the wave.

1. Publish about your Product Hunt experience.  This one article I wrote about using PH for a product launch got 2.5k views and I’ve had a number of people reach out to me because of it.

2. Join the Maker Success slack channel. Having the Maker Badge will grant you access to this tight-knit community of awesome PH’rs.

Decent resources

Looking for more insights? Here are my favorite articles by some of my favorite growth hackers.

How Product Hunt Really Works by Ben Wheeler

How To Crush It On Product Hunt by Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

How Startups Win On Product Hunt by Tristan Pollock

🌮 Now go get yourself a taco! 🌮

Happy hunting! If you made it through this whole article, or even part of it, you deserve a taco! Thanks for reading, hope this helps. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at ll@lauralynnstubler.com. I’m happy to chat!

Update: On December 1, 2016 Angel List acquired Product Hunt. To my knowledge, the tactics in this article still hold true. 4/1/17