Ask for Feedback, Innovate, and Adapt: Q&A with our Product Lead, Zev Lapin
We’re always excited to add innovative people to the Social Media Link team, and our lead Product Manager, Zev Lapin, is no exception. Zev plays a key role in leading product innovation and technology development for our EngageTech™ platform and expanding key offerings to both our Smiley360 and Vesta solutions. Zev ensures our products align with the needs of Social Media Link stakeholders, whether that’s our members, clients, or internal business teams.
Zev jump-started his career in technology as a junior at Yeshiva University, where he co-founded Storage Bucket, a summer storage solution for college students. He then joined the founding team at MakeSpace, an on-demand storage startup based in NYC. Prior to joining the Social Media Link team, Zev cofounded Parachute, a VC-backed startup that partnered with restaurants to deliver healthy breakfasts to offices throughout NYC. We sat down with Zev for a quick chat on his time at Social Media Link so far: “I’m super excited! It’s the future of marketing for sure.”
See his answers below.
What is your most notable accomplishment here at Social Media Link (so far)?
It’s only been about five months, but I think my most notable accomplishment so far has been launching the new community dashboard. It has been in the works for a while, so it has been fun to be able to revamp the dashboard to provide a better user experience for all of our community members; both our SML-owned Smiley community and brand-owned communities powered by Vesta.
How does design/UX play a role when developing new features for the platform?
Both design and UX play a huge role in our product development. For our team, it’s all about using design to drive the ideal user experience. It’s important that each solution not only looks good and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also (and maybe even more importantly) helps our members and clients accomplish what they’re trying to do. You can build the most beautiful house in the world, but if it doesn’t have a front door, you’ve kind of missed the mark!
What is the importance of real-world and client feedback on product features?
Real-world and client feedback is the most important channel of feedback for the product team at Social Media Link because our members and clients are the end users who use our solutions on daily basis! They are using our product first-hand and will usually be the first to identify any shortcomings, so keeping the feedback loop open and consistent is incredibly important.
Of course, we are constantly collecting feedback from our internal teams as well since as they are using tools and products in different ways than community members and therefore offer a different perspective. At the end of the day, we want to talk to any type of user who interacts with the products we build; this is the ultimate recipe for continuous product improvement!
Can you explain how our product team prioritizes our product roadmap?
Here at Social Media Link we offer three product solutions, all powered by our proprietary technology platform called EngageTech. We are not focused on rolling out any standalone product categories in the near future, but instead, we are focused on improving our three solutions through enhancing the technology platform we’ve already built. This improvement comes in the form of optimizing what has already been built as well as exploring new features that grow the utility and value of our products.
Can you explain the agile methodology and why it’s so important to our team at Social Media Link?
Utilizing the Agile Methodology allows our development team to release and deploy new product features and improvements at a far quicker pace than the traditional Waterfall Methodology. The Agile Methodology shortens the release cycle of a feature to a few weeks. In that time our team is able to build a feature, test it, and release it to the live site. Ultimately, this process allows us to learn what works and adapt instead of putting in months of work and deploying a new feature all at once only to learn it doesn’t accomplish what we or our users intend it to. The rapid, iterative process allows us to not only utilize learnings from a product standpoint but also from a community/best practices standpoint, which are learnings we share with all of our clients.
How does Social Media Link continue to nurture, own and maintain its customer relationships?
From a product perspective, we really have several groups of customers: our Smiley360 clients and community members, and our Vesta clients. These are all customers that have a stake in ensuring the products they’re using are intuitive and robust. As with all types of relationships, communication is key! Social Media Link does an excellent job of keeping lines of communication constantly open and I certainly think it’s a quality that is highly valued by our members and clients.
Lastly (and on a side note), have you read any good ebooks, articles, blog posts, frameworks, etc. on product strategy lately?