Our product background is the influencer marketing space. It is a rapidly growing industry: ad blocking software has led brands to seek more personalized methods of reaching their customers. Almost 4 billion people now have an active social media presence, and this number is only increasing.
The space consists of three major parties: influencers, brands, and talent agencies. Influencers strike deals with brands to promote their products, while talent agencies often act as intermediaries to these transactions. Talent agencies usually manage larger influencers, but those with smaller followings do not.
Smaller influencers have far less information about their marketability than the brands and agents they deal with. Interviews and user testing informed us that many influencers weren’t monetizing their content because of this. Some influencers were striking bad deals and making far less than their counterparts, while others were not striking deals altogether because of bad experiences.
We mapped out three user pain points.
The first was a desire of users to understand what their pricing rate should be. They were looking for a scientific and rigorous estimation of what they should be asking for because they believed it was the most important piece of information an influencer could know. The second was a desire to learn about how to grow their personal brand and autonomously reach out to companies, and the third was a desire to learn more about their peers and competitors.
After doing user testing, we discovered that the first two were distinctly more important than initial interviewing has suggested, and we prioritised accordingly. It also revealed that the most user-friendly way of conveying this data was through a one screen analysis page. We compiled pricing data, resources on growth, brands interested in their demographic and more. Depending on the specific user input, our product would collect the relevant data and produce a personalized page.
The solution is our MVP: a tool where users input their information on following, engagement and industry and Fluence churns out personalized feedback and reccomendations.
I learned so much from the Co.Lab experience, but the most important takeaways stand out. The first is to be an agile problem solver. Roadblocks are inevitable, and it is important to approach them proactively rather than letting them derail the process.
Secondly, I gained planning and prioritization skills: working out the most valuable parts of our product and working on them in order of importance was crucial in dealing with time pressure. Finally, I learned to be user-focused to my core and not let my personal ideas get in the way of what our users said was most important.
Collaboration and flexibility were my main takeaways from the Co.Lab experience. Collaboration working in a product team and implementing ideas that go beyond one individual. It’s not about who has the best idea in order to take credit but prioritizing the user’s needs without ego while balancing business and technical needs/constraints to deliver a product. Flexibility goes hand-in-hand as multiple challenges came our way, the biggest one, handling the Instagram API.
Throughout the weeks, we struggled to gain access and had to pivot in terms of the design and the value that we could provide to our users. Our constant communication allowed for us to tackle the challenges as a team and make necessary adjustments to deliver our MVP.
What I learned from this experience was a ton of new project management and design tools such as Asana, Figma as well as being able to practice agile development sprints with a dedicated PM and Designer which was something I never had experienced before.
Not only do I get to practice the skills I already know such as contributing to a multi page react application as well as utilizing git flow and collaboration methodologies with my other developers.
It was a great learning experience for me building a multi-page and responsive React application using Hooks and Router. In addition, I learnt how to leverage Netlify for CI/CD.
However, the highlight for me was definitely working asynchronously on a cross-functional team of a PM and a designer where I was able to learn how to use design and project management tools such as Figma and Asana. Lastly, what Co.Lab has taught me for the future is how to pivot, de-scope, prioritize and ultimately ship!
The value of asynchronous teamwork and agile problem solving.