Quick Product Notes: Thinking about Product for the Creator Economy

Quick Product Notes is just going to be a smaller stream of consciousness than usual, but an idea that inspires current/future product leaders as the world of tech continues to merge and evolve with new markets, economies, and more.

This week, let’s talk about the Creator Economy. According to CB Insights, there has been $1.3B in funding in 2021 alone for the creator economy, which as roughly 125+ recorded companies serving this massive market, which consists of upwards of 50 Million Content Creators. This consists of creators that are looking to use software to up their game to interact with the audience, distribute their curations/content, optimize content, and more.

As this market expands, it could be interesting to see software start to pivot to working with creators and offer new ways to capture this audience with specific product features. For example, if you’re managing a social product - how can you give a new spin by studying what’s in the creator economy? How can you potentially build tools that will allow both creators and consumers to benefit from using your resource?

Not every B2C product needs to be optimized for the creator economy. But I will say it’s important to keep track of this growing market if you’re working in the consumer, and something for product managers to study in terms of rapid growth and the opportunity to utilize the current influx of interest.

Here are a few resources I find interesting for studying the Creator Economy:

  • https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/what-is-the-creator-economy/

  • https://www.voguebusiness.com/companies/navigating-the-creator-economy-gold-rush#:~:text=The%20creator%20economy%20%E2%80%94%20the%20industry,by%20venture%20capital%20firm%20SignalFire.

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattklein/2020/09/23/50m-join-the-creator-economy-as-new-platforms-emerge-to-help-anyone-produce-content--money/

  • https://www.newyorker.com/culture/infinite-scroll/what-the-creator-economy-promises-and-what-it-actually-does

  • https://www.project-disco.org/innovation/060619-sizing-up-the-creator-economy/

How Twitter can make you a better Product Person.

Believe it or not, this edition of Dataday actually has 2 meanings in one, which I think are both important in understanding the future of customer interactions and feedback. Twitter is a platform of almost 200 Million total users, with a lot of people that are looking for anything from technology to just being a general consumer keeping track of their favorite products + people.

Unlike platforms like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter is a really easy way to leave feedback or interact with a brand through words, and not necessarily just through photos or through direct messaging. In some regards, it’s closer to LinkedIn, but even with LinkedIn, the main feed isn’t always even the focus. With Twitter, it’s all about feeds and making a statement on a your feed that feeds into the public.

So why is this important to someone in Product (Manager, Owner, Designer, Strategist)?

The Future of Customer Feedback

A key use of Twitter for Product Builders + Product Leaders is the idea of having a channel for users to ask questions and in some ways, give an indication of how easy it might be for them to give feedback.

For example, I’ve had products before where people have explicitly asked on Twitter: “Where can I leave feedback about the experience I had with a feature in your product”. An active Twitter account that responds to questions like this is, first, a great strategy for building ambassadorship and superfans, but also, under the surface, a way for Product leaders to understand the user flow + journey and where to improve it.

To see a brand that’s doing it right, let’s take a look at Copy.ai and their team.

Already off the bat, one can see the level of impact they’re having:

This is a product that already is good at promoting its user testimonials through Twitter, and makes sure to build incentives to interact with them by being responsive and sharing what their users are saying.

If end-users are reporting a harder time finding a way to upgrade or to add items to their plan with your product, and are asking on Twitter, this could be an indication that it’s too difficult to find on your website or in-app for your product.

This also gives the opportunity for someone like a product leader to reach out directly to the user to not only solve their issue but also build rapport that could lead to a call to learn more about reactions to features, or maybe a call to better understand what is missing from the product. Surveys can be effective, but not everyone will keep an eye out on those, so building other ways to communicate with a customer and build that relationship and collect feedback can be of great value to get them more comfortable with your product’s ecosystem.

For a Product Leader, it’s not just being aware, it’s having that understanding of the way a product feels to a user, and especially to product designers + product managers, being able to see what’s strong in a medium other than surveys.

The Future of Market Research + Competitive Research

Outside of understanding how users are interacting with your product, it’s also key to have a pulse on the market, industry, and vertical that you are in as a Product leader. Twitter is a cheat code being able to kickstart some of these efforts.

If you’re looking at the right places, in the right communities, and following the right influencers in your market/space, you can find out a lot about what users are enjoying and even see real-time interactions with products that might be competitors or near-competition with certain features in your product’s space.

By being able to track these interactions, there can be a good idea of what kind of features are missing from competing products and where there might be gaps in what users want from some of their utilities (what are users asking for on Twitter? What are they comfortable with requesting in public?).

Outside of just seeing what’s going in your vertical in technology, it should also be noted that Twitter can be a place to discover amazing threads, tweets, and just general sharing of resources from Product leaders around the globe, working in different companies, at different capacities, with varied backgrounds.

Being able to have a solid pulse on what’s going in SaaS might be good for your B2B product, but also having a good understanding of what Product Managers are using to succeed and any other tips you can get can be just as helpful.

In conclusion, Twitter is a valuable resource that I really do suggest looking into if you’re someone trying to level up as a Product Leader/Product Person, and also can be a place to understand your own market, understand certain competing platforms and their features, and also a way to generally understand how to better utilize data + feedback as a product leader.

A quick follow-up, if you’re enjoying this content, make sure to give me a follow on Twitter at @nikvimal. I tweet about Product, Leadership, Startups, and more, but with a similar angle of new-age strategy as I do here with Dataday!

Top 3 Tools for Product Managers in 2021

As a Product leader, it’s important to not only run through the tools and build systems with what you already have, but also to be able to propose using the newest, most efficient utilities that can really help deliver a product experience that brings together teams internally and satisfies customers externally.

Today, I want to go over my top 3 tools for Product Managers to check out in 2021. I boiled it down to these top 3 based on some personal tests and also seeing them used successfully in action with startups that I helped build product systems for.

Let’s jump right in!

Disclaimer: I don’t get sponsored to talk about any of these tools, these are just honest testimonials!

1. Cohere - Customer Interaction + Realtime Feedback

Now this one is definitely a platform that isn’t talked about a lot in too many product circles I’m in yet, but definitely needs to be. While on the surface it does seem more like a Customer Success/Customer Service utility, the opportunities to use it as a Product leader can really span to a powerful degree.

Essentially. Cohere is a tool that allows you to track user behavior in real-time within your web application and if necessary, be able to jump into a call with them, request control, and help them resolve an issue. All within the browser without having to have the end user install any 3rd-party software to their desktop.

For onboarding & customer discovery purposes, this is a vital tool. Outside of the opportunity to easily assist a user, or run live discovery/feedback sessions, there’s also other activity data + replay data built into this tool which can help product leaders unlock a deeper understanding of recent and historic behavior as users try to navigate a platform.

2. Monday.com

Monday.com is quickly coming up and increasingly expanding as one of the most flexible tools for teams and multiple departments to use in an organization. More than ever, it’s becoming a worthy contender to the likes of Trello, Asana, and other Project/Product management tools that have been the standard for some time.

The best part with Monday is that it can really bend to multiple teams (such as operations, sales, marketing, and more) - and product is no exception to a department that can really gain value with its focused interface.

With Monday, it’s easy to get started in building visual roadmaps, manage specific tasks + subtasks, and easily manage logs from customer interactions that need to be used for the betterment of a product. The flexibility (and the integrations) have really shined to make this tool something that reduces clutter, while also having all of the essential control and customization a Product leader may need.

3. Survicate - Easy + Integratable Product Surveys

And last, but not least, we have one of my favorite Product/Customer-focused survey tools in the space: Survicate. Not only is this a useful platform for creating and distributing basic surveys, it’s also one of the easiest ways to integrate a useful system for tracking CSAT, NPS, Likert, and more scores.

What this means is that, you can actually setup complex (or basic) systems to make sure your questions + surveys are distributed at the right time, to the right segment, and on the right channel (with abilities to embed into an iOS/Android app or right on the website).

The other major grab is the amount of data distribution and integration you can work. With everything from automatically updating Hubspot data, to easily having all your data in one place with the Feedback hub to make sure your finger is always on the pulse, and ensuring that cross-team data sharing can live in an interface that can offer value for relationships with Marketing, Customer Success, and others.

And there you have it! One of the first of many potential lists + dives into useful tools that will be published here on Dataday. Tune in for deep dives on other tools, how to use them, and the types of situations where they can really assist with successful execution for a Product leader.

"Does my Product need a Newsletter?"

I’ve actually been asked this question before. In short: “Why does your Product have a newsletter? Do all products need something like this?”. While I can’t automatically say that every product needs a newsletter, early-stage products DO need some sort of Opt-in mechanism.

Your Product’s Opt-In Channel

If you’re working on your product in any public way or already testing out promotion before you fully launch, it’s key to consider the importance of having some way that people can keep track beyond social media accounts or blogs.

While all of these function as great mechanisms and mediums for content, attention spans are short, and chances are, people may be quick to forget about a recent blog post that they saw or a tweet outlining some sort of progress.

Having a way to collect emails for your users is a hack to making sure people know about new launches, updates, redesigns, and whatever else might be important to building that momentum around the product.

Keeping Users Hooked (with Email)

Now, you have a collection of emails that you’ve gained from a general audience that has become more interested in your product and might receive an update or two from your side in the near future about your product’s progress.

Why have it be a newsletter?

To put perspectives, newsletters are a resource for curation. More than just a cool template with some words, it’s really a way to bring together a collection of updates and make it more about curating content that you may be putting our complimenting a product, or an excuse to make a collection of announcements in a well-designed email rather than just linking to another blog post.

In short, it’s a key way to emphasize not just what your product is, but what makes it special. If your product has its own podcast (another article coming about that soon), it’s a way to share the latest episode, while also having the latest tutorial, product update, and more all in one place.

The Opportunity

Offering a centralized resource of curation about your product is something that won’t go unnoticed and really has an opportunity to impress your audience more than a singular blog post or tweet can.

Being able to properly curate all the resources and work on a product, which is moving the progress forward, is something that really can benefit the marketing and sales play in the future, especially as you continue to scale and have more to share.

— What are your thoughts on having a newsletter for your product early on? —

The Design Trap

A Product Builder's nightmare.

In 2021, it’s true, we really like well-designed products. We like well-designed websites, awesome products we can tangibly purchase, just all-around products that look so good we have no choice but to remember them.

It is a valiant effort to strive for this kind of design for your site, your web app, your mobile app, etc, it’s also really important to be careful with the reality of product building.

Perfection can be a blocker.

Specifically, over-perfection, to where you may be using resources internally on operations and ideas that, on paper seem cool, but actually do very little to move forward your concept and the technology/methodology that makes using your product different.

Sure, it should still be a usable interface, and it’s okay to make modest strides to look the part, but at the end of the day, your application doesn’t really need custom illustrations to be successful, it needs to work.

By losing balance on design, you run the risk of…

  • Over-exhausting a team that feels like the product is only moving in the direction of UI and not UX/Customer Experience

  • Over-exhausting budgets on UI elements and experiments that don’t add value to the product

  • Coming up short on external stakeholder expectations because the product may look nice but is unusable.

All of these I’ve seen startups struggle with before, and in more instances, I wish I pushed the idea for Function<>Design harmony and balance rather than trying to compensate with a couple of nice animations for loading screens.

When building a product from scratch, it’s easy to get trapped in some of the ideas on perfection. And let me put it this way, it’s totally okay to start off with a well-designed product and still succeed! But make sure to consider the budgets and resources you have, and in reality, aim to strike a balance. There’s also the issue of having any concreate user experience or interface at all, which can choke a product just as much as good design with poor functionality.

Make sure to set your mark in the middle as a product leader, have coordinated conversations with your team about splitting up focus, and carry on with building the best damn product (or products) the world has ever seen.

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