It was love at first launch.
In 2016, Prisma Labs gave many consumers their first taste — or sight, rather — of artificial intelligence. By using neural networks, the eponymous photo-editing app transforms photos into breathtaking impressionist paintings.
For Android and Apple alike, Prisma was one of the biggest indie software launches of the past year. Over the summer, it received the most upvotes on Product Hunt, rave reviews from media outlets like The Verge and TechCrunch, and viral shares on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Anatomy of a Successful Launch
With more than 3.4 million #prisma Instagram posts and more than 142,000 likes on its Facebook page, Prisma continues to delight its users. What made it such a hit? Well, Prisma did one thing, and it did it well. Now, it has the chance to iterate and add valuable features in hopes of becoming a sustainable social network.
If you want to replicate Prisma’s success, there are 10 secrets to its successful launch:
1. Be the best at what you do.
Prisma doesn’t offer 20 different ho-hum filters like Instagram. Instead, it takes a photo, applies its algorithm, and creates something totally new, creative, and visually striking. People share it for that reason alone. If you’re not the best at what you do, why are you even bothering?
2. Make integrations seamless.
Like it or not, people use apps other than yours, so your product needs to work with what’s already on their device. Hammer out these integration flows to make sure they not only exist, but are also understandable, easy, and — most importantly — fun.
3. Simplify everything.
Prisma just works. You don’t need a user’s manual or a 10-step tutorial to enjoy it. To make your app launch successful, ensure the product betters consumers’ lives with just a couple clicks.
4. Share your story.
A product should be easy to use, but it should also be easy to learn about. Users enjoy knowing a product’s backstory, so give a sneak peek into how and why you developed the product. Outline the problem it solves or the value it adds.
We did this with Tiny Eye by sharing “I Spy…Tiny Eye! A Mobile VR App for Everyone” to give users a glimpse into the creation process, and they came back wanting more. We also drummed up excitement by sharing inside experiences working with Chelsea Handler on “Gotta Go!”
5. Recruit influencers.
For people to know your product is on the market, you need to get the word out. Try Collabor8 to find fans, generate buzz, and conduct influencer transactions, all in one place. People trust word-of-mouth recommendations more than anything else, so employ influencers to talk up your product.
6. Build suspense.
It won’t be long until trailers for 2017’s summer blockbusters start popping up all over the place. Hollywood mastered the art of building suspense for product releases, and Steve Jobs brought some of that intrigue to the tech industry. Build something sleek, take pre-orders, build an email list, and augment influencer efforts with digital ads.
7. Talk to Apple.
From its iPhones and iPads to its computers, wearables, and apps, Apple’s products are a “how to” for design. If your app is truly well-designed, contact Apple about a possible feature. Apple consistently highlights our apps, earning us a good number of installs, because they appreciate the design work we put in.
8. Pitch to the press.
While getting products into the media’s hands can be great, it’s a company’s story that really matters. Much like Prisma, we successfully pitched “Gotta Go!” to TechCrunch, which helped broaden awareness of the app while also delivering SEO value.
9. Launch on Product Hunt.
If you have a cool product, it belongs on Product Hunt, a community of tech enthusiasts who love new products. Members will give you early feedback, help spread the word, and keep you up-to-date on similar products. This was another key strategy for “Gotta Go!”
10. Take credit.
You know how rappers always say their names in songs? It’s shameless self-promotion, but it’s also because they rightfully want credit for their work. Prisma, for the same reason, embeds a watermark at the bottom of its images. Users can see images their friends are sharing and discover Prisma for themselves.
You might have the next Prisma polished and ready to launch, but if you can’t get the word out, it’s not going anywhere. To put your product in play, you need to understand the game.
Product launches are an art, and unlike your selfies, there’s no app to help make your next product launch a masterpiece. To learn more, check out our CTO Rudy Mutter’s blog post on using rapid prototyping to launch digital products, and reach out to us if you’d like to discuss product launching best practices.
Tony Scherba is a President | Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.