Dianne Kibbey

Dianne Kibbey on how Premier Farnell launched the Raspberry Pi 2 through their element14 community

As one of the largest distributors of electronics, Premier Farnell uses their online community, element14, to launch new products.

With over 360,000 registered members, Dianne Kibbey learned that merely creating content was not enough. Her team needed to go above and beyond to get their main customer — electronics design engineers — to engage with the community and adopt new products.

For the launch of the Raspberry Pi 2, they followed three key guidelines:

  1. Pre-launch: Get to know the customer and community
  2. During: Make the customer a part of the launch and provide early access
  3. Post-launch: Keep interest up with giveaways, projects, and challenges

“All of this activity was really aimed at bringing people back to our element14 community, along with selling the product.”

[Our customers] don’t just want to read about a product, they want to see it in action.

The Raspberry Pi 2 is a computer designed to get kids interested in coding, however the product took off with engineers, makers, and educators across the globe. There were few distributors to sell the product, and Premier Farnell had only a small amount of time between receiving the product and when they could launch it.

They already knew a lot about their customer, the engineer: They're highly intelligent and educated, very opinionated, and are experiential learners, which means they learn through hands-on experience. “They don't just want to read about a product, they want to see it in action,” says Dianne. She needed to make sure that their customers were going to be able to test out the product themselves.

Before the launch they needed to build excitement for the Raspberry Pi 2.

Premier Farnell began with the #iLuvPi2 giveaway, encouraging their audience to post on all social media channels about how excited they were and how they planned on using the device. A select few recipients would then be entered to receive a free Raspberry Pi 2. This created tons of great engagement and allowed for Premier Farnell to build hype before the launch.

Over the next few weeks they launched the #iLuvPi2 PiCycle campaign, which had representatives riding around London and San Francisco tweeting out hints to locations and giving away the devices to lucky recipients.

element14 Facebook

As the product release date came closer, Premier Farnell kept interest high by creating lots of content focused on the product.

They hosted a press conference with the creator of the Raspberry Pi and live-streamed it to the element14 community. With the help of in-house experts, they created an unboxing video as well as blog posts, videos, and lots of technical content to promote the device.

“This launch was really all about the content,” said Dianne. “We brought 5,000 new members into the element14 community.”

During the first month of the launch, Premier Farnell had 71% share of voice over competitors, and 50% of product sales originating from their social channels.

Over the next few months, they continued to do more to keep new members interested. They developed the Raspberry Pi 2 Road Test, allowing applicants from across the globe to submit project ideas and receive a Raspberry Pi 2 in exchange for an in-depth product review.

Member content is now a piece of every launch we do.

In March 2015, they launched the SciFiPi2 challenge, a three-month challenge asking applicants around the world to create something from Science Fiction using the device and a basket full of supplies. The winner, an engineer from Spain, replicated the medical tricorder from Star Trek — a device that can scan your body and collect information on your vitals.

According to Dianne, every product launch has challenges. Some of the takeaways they've learned: make members a part of every launch, show them the products in action, and embrace the trends and passion of members.

“Member content is now a piece of every launch we do.”

Premier Farnell has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2010. You can find Dianne on Twitter and watch the full presentation from our Member Meeting in Chicago here.