When I was in Berlin two weeks ago, I wanted to know how SoundCloud, the massively popular sound collaboration platform, managed its product development cycle. So, I asked Matas Petrikas, a product manager for html5 apps, some questions about his work. Here is the result:
Interview with Matas Petrikas, product manager for html5 apps at SoundCloud
BizSpark: Does the input from individual users using the product create a community? Or, did the team look for a community to deliver them the product? In other words, is there a chicken and egg thing here? Does the product come first, or does the community?
Matas: At SoundCloud the product comes first, we know the main features and usage patterns that we want to develop. We might use the input from the users to decide on which variation of a particular feature is more likely to work better (A/B, multivariate tests) But that's one of our product development instruments, not modus operandi.
BizSpark: How do you tell the difference between a community user base’s appreciation for the media delivered by the product and the product itself? I am wondering if there is any way of tracking what people love about a product as differentiated from something as simple as “there’s great music here.”
Mattas: We know that we can't be better than the sounds our creators put on the site, so some of our main challenges are: how we can accomodate as much great content as possible? how does a listener discover the content they would love to listen and share? The magic happens when we perform better than the user's expectations.
BizSpark: How does community management work with product development, and are there certain systems or software you have in place to make that type of communication effective?
Matas: We are working very tightly with our community team. We use both software tools for that (Lighthouse, email, etc.) and regular personal syncs. On the products that are in very active development (public beta etc.) we do daily monitor on the user sentiment and feedback in relation to new features and product changes. In every product development iteration we have at least one bigger story that is prioritised from the community sentiment perspective. Also we do regular quarterly user surveys where we measure our NPS rating.
BizSpark: How do you identify a member of your community as an ambassador of your product, and do you use this type of “soft” marketing of SoundCloud?
Matas: Maybe Jami from our community team could answer that? [Note: Jami did, and you can find his answers right here.]