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Countable Series: On Digital Organizing Products

This is the fourth and final episode in the Countable Podcast Series. In this conversation, Countable Founder and CEO Bart Myers is joined by Countable VP of Client Success and Operations Jaime Peters. Jaime has ample experience with political organizing, first on the ground and now in the digital realm. When it comes to building digital organizing products for clients, Jaime shares tips on a different MVP – the minimum viable community. She also explains why storytelling across platforms is especially important with digital organizing products. And perhaps most important of all, when asking customers to get involved in digital organizing, PMs need to maintain trust. If users don’t trust the product, they simply won’t use it.

On minimum viable community

Product Managers all know about minimum viable products, or MVPs. That is the product that can go to market with the least amount of features while still being usable. But when it comes to digital organizing products, what's a minimum viable community?

Jaime explains, “Many of our clients are coming to us saying, We want to build a community. We have to dig in and ask a lot of questions. Like, What does community mean to you? What do you want this community to do? What's the goal of building this community in the first place? 

“A lot of times people are coming to us thinking we need thousands and thousands of people in one place doing this thing in order for it to be absolutely successful. And when you break it down with them, it's like, Do we really need that many people? Or do we need an engaged community? If we have thousands of people on a platform, but only ten of them are taking action, but we're trying to support all of the people that are there, we're never going to be successful and hit our goals. But if we have ten really engaged users on our platform taking action, and track the metrics across What actions do they take? How do they take them? How did that impact our larger goals? Then we're going to have a lot better data on how we continue to grow and expand that community. 

“So the best practice is, like, Your goal is amazing. I love your goal. This is great. What does that actually mean to you? How can we break this into smaller pieces? And how can we break it down into achievable pieces so that we can see success along the way?”

On the impact of storytelling

Great products tell a good story. Great digital organizing products allow their users to tell stories, and share them across platforms. Given that users are spread out in different platforms, Jaime says that unifying quality is key.

She says, “Storytelling is the most impactful thing we see online every single day. And even the concept of what a story is, has changed over time, especially in online iterations. Nowadays, storytelling happens in 6 second videos on Snapchat, or in 30 second videos on Tiktok. It happens in still imagery on Instagram, or in posted articles on Facebook. The idea of what a story is has changed so much over time. How a story can spark a movement, how a story can make an impact – that hasn't changed. But how impactful those stories can be has changed because of the products we see online. 

“One of the things you learn very early on in digital organizing is not everybody is on the same platform. And not everybody you want to talk to is on one platform. So if you're doing really great on Facebook, that's great. But let's say you're trying to reach out to voters in one district. If everybody that's engaging with your Facebook post doesn't live in that district, you've got great engagement, but you're not actually reaching the community of people who can vote. You're missing out on an opportunity there. 

“What great products have done is they've provided us with a place to build community that doesn't take people away from the places where they are online. It brings them together and allows them to share it wherever they want to share it. They can all find it in one place and easily share it to the place where they have built their community.”

On building trust with digital organizing products

As noted in Bart’s conversation with Emily Bell in episode two, we are living in an era of low trust. With that in mind, it is very important that PMs treat the trust of users with the utmost care. Building (and maintaining) trust may be even more vital when it comes to digital organizing products.

Jaime cautions, “Don't break your trust. I'm sure most people can open their email inbox and see at least a few emails asking them to donate money to a person, or a cause, or anything. We get donation email after donation email after donation email. And sometimes, we end up giving and sometimes we don't end up giving. But right now, most of the articles you see online are about how those emails aren't even for the candidate that they're trying to raise money for. It's actually for a Political Action Committee (PAC). Or it's actually for something else. Or it's actually for a committee that's working against that candidate! And you didn't read the fine print.

“People get angry, and they get upset, because they feel tricked. They feel deceived. It all comes back to trust and honesty and communication. It doesn't matter whether you're standing in front of somebody at their door or whether they're reading your email in their inbox. It's about trust and honesty in communication.”