How to Pre-Launch on Instagram: The Inside Story of Jot Coffee’s Social Media Strategy

In this post, we give you a behind-the-scenes look at how Jot Coffee, a newly launched DTC coffee brand, built excitement for its launch on Instagram and how to create a community from day one.

Jul 8, 2020 9 min readSocial Media Marketing
Photo of Sophie Gil
Sophie Gil

Senior Growth Marketing Manager @ Buffer

Launched in April 2020, Jot Coffee, a newly launched DTC (direct-to-consumer) coffee brand, has quickly picked up steam as the new at-home coffee brand that delivers an exceptionally delicious experience, both in-person and digitally. But how did they manage to generate so much interest and excitement for their launch?

Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how Jot built excitement for its launch on Instagram and how to create a community from day one. You'll hear directly from Jackie Modena, Director of Community at Jot, and you'll learn:

  • Where to find inspiration for creating on-brand social media content
  • How to plan for a successful new brand or product launch on Instagram
  • How to generate pre-launch interest, UGC (user-generated content), and followers
  • How to engage with your brand's community in a timely manner
  • How to stay up to date on social media trends and updates

This post is part of the #BufferBrandSpotlight, a Buffer Social Media series that shines a spotlight on the people that are helping build remarkable brands through social media, community building, content creation, and brand storytelling.

This series was born on Instagram Stories, which means you also have the ability to watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.

Who are you?

Hi, I’m Jackie Modena! I’m with Jot, a newly launched DTC company that makes a first-of-its-kind 20x concentrated Ultra Coffee from fair trade, organic beans. All it takes is one tablespoon of our Ultra Coffee to create delicious, café-quality drinks at home, like iced lattes, americanos, and cappuccinos. We have a small but mighty (and highly caffeinated) team based out of Boulder, CO.

I’m Jot’s Director of Community, where I oversee the strategic direction of our social media, develop content, engage with and grow our community, manage influencer partnerships, and work closely with PR, performance marketing and customer service.

I’ve previously held in-house marketing and social media roles at other national CPG companies like Ripple Foods and ICONIC Protein, and prior to that, worked for a boutique PR agency that specialized in servicing natural & organic CPG food, beverage and lifestyle brands.

Where do you find inspiration for Jot’s social media content?

When we first started out with our social channels, we developed a set of creative guidelines to help inform the types of content, visual direction and aesthetic that we wanted to create.

We were also fortunate to launch with some amazing GIF, video and still content from an early creative shoot organized by our branding agency, Red Antler. Those assets really helped to set the foundation for the tone and visual direction of our social media. From there, it was easy to find content partners and curated content that fit our aesthetic. For inspiration, I follow relevant Instagram hashtags that either tie directly to our brand or to an aesthetic (ex. #coffeephotography, #coffeevibes, #morninglight, #lightsandshadows, etc.), look to other brand accounts (both competitors and other categories), and follow my favorite creator accounts for inspiration.

How does managing Jot’s social media account look like on a day-to-day basis?

I try to consolidate things as much as possible, so that I’m not bouncing around from platform to platform all day. That’s what makes Buffer such a great tool—I’m able to manage our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all in one place.

While we typically have ‘themes’ or overarching content initiatives that we plan six months to a year in advance, I only look to schedule content a few weeks out—and even then, I consider it a rough plan. Things can change so quickly, and it’s important to be able to pivot quickly and adapt to the landscape.

While we typically have ‘themes’ or overarching content initiatives that we plan six months to a year in advance, I only look to schedule content a few weeks out

From there, as it relates to Instagram, my day-to-day looks like the following:

  1. I’m checking in on UGC via our tagged posts and hashtags, and engaging with members of community who share their Ultra Coffee photos and recipes. We try to encourage customers to use #jotcoffee and #justonetablespoon, and we’re currently running a #summerofjot campaign.
  2. I’m checking in on stories and DMs throughout the day, to engage with our customers, re-share stories to our own story, and field any customer service-related questions that might come in.
  3. I like to keep an eye on the engagement on Facebook and Instagram ads, both to moderate any comments that violate our community guidelines and to answer questions from consumers who might be curious about our product.

How do you plan for a successful new brand or product launch?

As a marketer, brand and product launches are some of my favorite initiatives to plan, strategize and execute.

With Jot, when it came to Instagram specifically, we were careful to start curating our feed with on-brand, aesthetic content (and I think this can be a great time to utilize more ambitious grid-style posts that span 3-, 6- or 9-feed posts in size) leading up to our launch, without showing the actual product.

Jot's pre-launch grid-style post that spanned 6-feed posts.

While we planned to have a presence on all the major social media platforms, we knew that Instagram was going to be a main priority for us and where we’d be dedicating a majority of our resources when it came to content, influencer and community.

To help generate pre-launch interest, followers and UGC, we launched a friends & family program in the weeks before our official launch, and encouraged participants to share their Ultra Coffee experience with us. This allowed us to start gathering early customer feedback and troubleshooting possible customer service and community questions.

To help generate pre-launch interest, followers and UGC, we launched a friends & family program in the weeks before our official launch, and encouraged participants to share their Ultra Coffee experience with us.

We also received a lot of great unboxing and other UGC content for social, which we started gathering and saving to ensure we’d have enough content on our launch day to really make a splash. Again, a tool like Buffer can be really helpful in this regard, because you can start to build up your content database and schedule out your launch day posts and stories (knowing how hectic launch days usually are, this can be a huge time-saver!).

In terms of other product launches I’ve worked on in the past for more established companies with an existing community, I think it’s fun to build anticipation with teaser posts leading up to the official launch. It gets the community engaged and involved and almost makes the launch into a game (you could even tie in a giveaway if someone guesses the correct new flavor/product).

What marketing/social media advice do you have for brands that are pre-launch?

I’d establish yourself on all the main social channels (and try to keep a consistent handle across all platforms) but figure out which channels are going to be your main focus.

For us as a DTC consumer product, it made sense that Instagram, and to an extent Facebook, would be an important part of our marketing strategy, so it was really essential that we nailed it on those platforms. We have more flexibility when it comes to posting cadence and strategy for our other platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and TikTok, which allows us to be a little more experimental in our content.

When you’re a small startup, you’re only going to have so many resources—time, budget, manpower—to devote to your social channels, so invest wisely in your primary channels while maintaining relevant content on your secondary channels.

What’s your number one tip for engaging with your brand’s community?

Time is of the essence, so check in with your platforms of highest engagement frequently. If your priority platform is Instagram and that’s where you’re seeing the most engagement, you don’t need to necessarily be glued to Instagram all day but consider designating a few 15-minute chunks of time throughout the day as Instagram check-in time and even blocking your calendar as such.

Time is of the essence, so check in with your platforms of highest engagement frequently.

I do think it’s important to try and engage in a timely manner, whether it’s through DMs, a comment on a piece of UGC, or a comment on a post, because your followers are more likely to still be active on the platform and see your engagement.

I’ve also seen instances where follower conversations or questions can snowball in an unintended direction, or misinformation can be spread, if the brand doesn’t engage quickly enough with the community, so try to monitor and stay on top of conversations as they happen rather than being days behind and trying to do damage control later.

How do you stay up to date on social media trends?

I find that many of the social media scheduling and influencer platforms I utilize have fantastic blogs and email newsletters (including Buffer!) so make sure you’re signed up to receive their communications—they often have all the latest news & updates on the major social media platforms and trends in the space.

I have a few newsletters I’m subscribed to as well—The Hustle, Lean Luxe, and Morning Brew’s new marketing-centric newsletter, for a quick take on trends in retail, marketing and DTC businesses.

Finally, I’d recommend seeking out a few networking groups specific to your position or industry. I really like the Create & Cultivate and Women in Influencer Marketing Facebook groups—they’re a great way to share resources, ask questions, discuss ideas/approaches and meet others in the industry. Since conferences and trade shows are off the table at the moment, these kinds of groups can be a great stand-in for in-person networking opportunities and can lead to collaborating, brainstorming and sharing.

How do you take your Ultra Coffee?

My favorite everyday way to take my Ultra Coffee is in an iced latte—it’s as simple as 8 oz milk (I prefer Oatly Barista Style), ice, and a tablespoon of Ultra Coffee.

When I want to switch things up, I go for one of our new #summerofjot recipes: one tablespoon of Ultra Coffee, 6 oz water, one tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1.5 tbsp maple, and ice – for a refreshing and unique Cold Brew Lemonade.

View this post on Instagram

Iced coffee season has officially returned. To celebrate, we’re hosting our first Ultra Coffee recipe contest. It’s as simple as whipping up your favorite iced or cold Ultra Coffee beverage, snapping a photo or video, and sharing it using #summerofjot. ⁣ ⁣ We’ll be selecting three winners by 7/3 to receive a three-month Ultra Coffee subscription (3x bottles, every 4 weeks). ⁣ ⁣ In addition, as part of our ongoing efforts to support the Black Lives Matter movement, for every entry received we’ll be making a $10 donation to @thelovelandfoundation, an organization that brings opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls.⁣ ⁣ We’ll be sharing some of our favorite iced and cold summer-ready recipes over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out if you need some inspiration. ⁣ ⁣ For more details, check out our #summerofjot stories highlight.

A post shared by Jot (@jot) on

We hope this interview with Jackie helps you get started with or double down on your social media efforts. You can follow her journey on Instagram here!

Have any questions for Jackie? Feel free to reply with your questions to the Twitter post below and Jackie, or someone from the Buffer team, will get to them as soon as possible.

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