Most community managers and social media managers want their social outfits to be popular. But anyone dreaming of “the big launch” for a new social media startup might do well to learn from one entrepreneur who got his finger burnt by doing just that.
Just over a year ago, Vibhu Norby carefully orchestrated a huge product launch for his new private social network for groups called Everyme. He and his employees had raised $1.5 million in seed funding, they’d carefully gathered 25,000 email addresses of those who wanted to know about the launch, and Norby organized coverage for the launch from top tech blogs like AllThingsD and TechCrunch.
The trough after the fanfare
But this is precisely where ambitious community managers and social media managers may need to exercise restraint. Things didn’t go according to plan for Norby, and it was clear from the very first hours.
Far fewer people than imagined were signing up to the network, and numbers dwindled over the course of the week on a day-by-day basis. The effect on Norby’s team members, all of whom had access to stats dashboards, was to drag down their morale and productivity to the depths. As he writes courageously in a recent blog, “It felt like we had bet it all on red and the ball stopped on black.”
Norby now believes that dreams of growing massively “out of the gate” following a major launch will likely stay simply as dreams. And they’ll lead to crushing disappointment amongst team members, from the community manager to the CEO. Norby now thinks it may be better not to launch at all, as it creates the impression that you’re betting on your product instead of developing a long-term strategy
Launching “screws your metrics,” according to Norby. Social media managers seeing 6,000 signups on day one will find it hard to resist feeling down-in-the-mouth if they see a mere 2,000 on day two. But these figures are artifacts of the big launch and they cloud judgment, leading team members to doubt the product and totally failing to identify the truly passionate users.
Norby now believes it’s wiser to start small and steady. Begin with one passionate user, then ten, then 100. Far better than getting 6,000 on opening day only to end up with 111 true passionistas.