08 May 2023 |

Airbnb’s 4.7M-view product launch


How Airbnb generated 4.7M views on Twitter for a product launch

Airbnb has been getting some heat lately.

Lackluster amenities.

Insane, often hidden fee.

Unreasonable check-out protocols.

With all of the inconveniences, the question for customers became: Why not just stay at a hotel?

And last week, Airbnb fired back. They dropped a massive update to the product with over 50 changes made to features like:

  • Checkout instructions that are viewable before you book
  • Reviewing checkout instructions left by hosts
  • Reducing fees for stays longer than 3 months

And like 50+ other things.

Now that you have the context of the update (I promise this article isn’t just an Airbnb ad lmfao), let’s talk about the social strategy that went into the launch.

There are 3 pillars I noticed.

✅ Pillar 1: Leverage the founder personal brand for launches


The main Twitter thread announcing the drop was published from Brian Chesky’s account — not the Airbnb brand account.

And by the numbers…

The release thread on Brian’s account pulled in:

  • 362 replies

Stupid numbers lmao.

Now look at the release tweet from the brand account:

  • 53 replies

The thread on Chesky’s account pulled in 103X the visibility generated from the brand account.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

People want to engage with people on social media — not brands.

I’m seeing this across the board with my agency clients as well.

  1. There’s more demand for ghostwriting/personal branding services coming in
  2. The personal brands I manage for startups tend to outperform the brand accounts

I consider myself platform and method-agnostic. I run a B2B social media agency, not a ‘ghostwriting agency.’

I have no incentive to shove a square peg into a round hole here. The dominance of personal brands is just what I’m seeing with my own clients, and now with behemoths like Airbnb.

As social media managers, we need to adapt as platforms, strategies, and user behavior evolves. Consider working personal brands from your company into your next launch or activation.

Build your internal talent up to be your own ‘influencers.’

[If you want more of my thoughts on personal vs brand accounts — check out this piece I wrote]

✅ Pillar 2: Premium visual assets


This thread was (likely) not just a stream-of-consciousness, unplanned tweet storm by a startup founder with little-to-no input from his team — though you’d be surprised how often this happens 😂

Rather, this appears to be part of a well-coordinated launch.

One tell?

The visuals that accompany the text in the thread.

Each of the top 10 features listed has its own gif to show exactly what the feature is.

They’re not super over-the-top. The GIFs themselves have some flare, but are still fairly simple.

But… from what I see in the startup ecosystem right now…. the default visuals for product launches on social (if visual assets are even provided at all) are raw screenshots from the product.

Sure. That’s fine.

But the use of graphics, gifs, and video assets that are made specifically for a launch or content series on social gives your brand a more premium feel and will improve the performance of your content.

I’m even seeing platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn (not just IG and TikTok) reward video more and more.

And if you are a founder, there’s something I need you to understand about this. Please. Listen.

To put together a coordinated launch like Airbnb’s summer release, and have the visual assets to accompany it — you need to give your social team one thing:

Lead time.

AKA — a head’s up. Ideally, give your social team multiple weeks to plan for a proper launch activation. Your team needs time to draft copy, source graphic + video assets, run through approvals, etc.

Product updates and feature launches are amazing opportunities for social growth and community engagement.

But… too many social teams are put in a position where they find out about product updates 1-2 days out. Or, in some cases, the day of (yes, there’s some personal trauma here).

Get ahead of launches. Ideally 2-3 weeks (if not more). Give your social team time to coordinate with the founder and with other marketing arms of your company.

And watch how much better the launch turns out.

✅ Pillar 3: Community-focused launch

airbnb sf 3.png

The premise of the entire launch was that it was a response to community feedback.

Just look at the language in the hook:

You told us what you don’t like about Airbnb.

NOT “We’re excited to unveil 50+ new updates…”

See the difference?

(Also, super smart use of Negativity Bias in the copy… catches the readers attention and is a bit polarizing)

And even better…

After the initial launch, Chesky posted this tweet asking for even more feedback from the community:

And he followed it up with this QRT to summarize the top 8 most requested features (and pulled an additional 3.5M views in the process 🔥):

No matter how big your company gets, you’re never above communicating directly with your customers and community.

Nothing is more frustrating as a consumer than shouting feedback for years, only for it to fall on deaf ears. This is especially true as a company transitions from being a scrappy startup to a mature company.

And organic social is the perfect channel for developing that direct connection with your core community. Social gives you the opportunity to speak directly to your customers. To hear both the positive and the negative.

Simply listening to your community and acting on the feedback (when it makes sense to do so) is one of the most powerful ways to develop goodwill.

Don’t overlook the ‘acting’ piece, either. You can’t fake this approach.

The reason why this launch and the subsequent tweets asking for more feedback were so well received is because the ACTION builds trust with your community.

Airbnb asked for feedback.

Airbnb acted on the feedback.

Airbnb used social to amplify the process.

Because Airbnb actually delivered on features that their community asked for, the community is now incentivized to engage and respond whenever the founder asks for feedback on social.

Simple. Not easy. And yet another example of how your social media team needs to be involved in wider company marketing initiatives.

That’s all I’ve got for today.