Bo Gowan

Bo Gowan on launching a new product in social media for Ciena

Ciena just launched a new product that's kind of a big deal.

It's their Agility Matrix, and as they describe it on their blog, it's built to change the way Service Providers offer network connections to their customers. It's billed as a “pay as you earn” business model, and it's a completely new area for the company to move into. (And as you can already see, explaining it can get technical very quickly.)

Bo Gowan, Ciena's Social Media Leader, says that's why their blog plays an important part in education. And as someone who's been a marketer in the tech industry for 20 years, Bo says he's been converting technology speak for a long time now.

“You can't always tell the full story with a press release,” Bo says.

When Ciena launches a new product, they create a layered story in social media.

And it all starts with Bo having a hand in the marketing planning.

“I've been with Ciena for five years now, and at the beginning, my first goal was just to be included in the process. Social was new, and it was a matter of getting to the table,” he explains.

“Now when we do kickoff calls for a big announcement or launch, I'm just part of the team. It's second nature to bring in the PR team, campaign marketing, and digital marketing — social is just a part of that.”

In fact, before a product launch, Bo is in on the spokesperson prep calls, learning key messaging and Q&As directly from the company’s experts. For this launch, he worked directly with the members of the new product business unit to get to know the ins and outs of the new software.

Planning for launch day is a highly collaborative process.

“It wasn't just me writing in a vacuum. At the core, it was written and massaged by the product marketing team. That's what we do with a lot of our launches. We make sure we're writing it as a group,” Bo explains.

On launch day, Bo has to be on his toes.

He explains that on day one, a lot of self-referential content has to go out at the same time: For example, his blog post and the launch press release both link to each other.

“At 9:00 AM, I'm taking the blog post live, I'm sharing a Facebook post, I'm posting to LinkedIn, I'm sending out tweets, and I'm turning on ad campaigns. But at 9:05 I have to start live tweeting the press conference. So there was a lot of logistics going on.”

While day one is focused on getting out the news, day two of the launch is all about creating conversion opportunities.

Bo says they're looking beyond the likes, retweets, and impressions and pushing for the “second-click.”

At the end of the day, when they're downloading a whitepaper, saying ‘someone contact me,' or registering for a webinar, those are the actual conversions. Those conversions are what we actually care about, and we're able to track those back to social sources.”

Day three and four focus on the supporting stuff like videos of new partners and secondary blog posts. Then for the next few days, they'll promote Q&As, highlight coverage of Agile Matrix, and get deeper into the nitty gritty of the product.

Bo says a successful product launch usually has a lot of organic sharing.

“I don't look at the paid part of our launch to see how well it's going,” he says.

“When we have our best launches, you can see people commenting, sharing, and retweeting. For us, organic drives much more value.

Say hi to Bo on Twitter and ask about his favorite tech to blog about. Bo joined in 2014 as a member of the Purple Council.