Growth Frameworks from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Growth Frameworks from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

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Insights from Bangaly Kaba: A Journey through Growth and Leadership

Career Journey and Impact

Bangaly Kaba has held significant roles in various tech giants:

  • Early Growth PM at Facebook
  • Head of Growth at Instagram
  • VP of Product at Instacart
  • Director of Product Management at YouTube
The impact is only achievable by looking at two sets of variables, a set of variables related to the environment, a set of variables related to your skills.
Bangaly Kaba
Bangaly Kaba

Framework for Career Choices

Bangaly's framework includes vision, skills, incentives, resources, and an action plan. He emphasizes the importance of having all these components to drive change.

There is an awesome blog post about how to make career decisions.

Understand Work

Bangaly is a strong advocate for "understand work" before executing any project. This involves a deep understanding of the problem, identifying key insights, and then executing based on these insights.

"First you have to really understand from first principles what is actually going on."

Dogfooding is another concept Bangaly believes in, where you use your own product to understand the user experience. This article from the NY Times explains the concept in more detail. Essentially, it's about consistently using your proudct.

He told a story about Facebook's early days in India as a great example of understand work. The team noticed discrepancies in the way the platform was being used in India, leading them to conduct on-the-ground research every three months.

"We were literally on the ground in India every three months took a team of engineers with me. I'm talking like we're in Delhi in people's homes and Mumbai, and we went to go investigate what was going on, watch people make friends, watch them use people you may know and really understand what was happening and see what was going on because we felt like there was context that we were missing."

Addressing Common Names and Profile Relevance

One of the key findings was that common names in India, like Amit Kumar, made it difficult for users to find their friends using traditional profile information fields. These fields, designed with Western paradigms in mind, did not resonate with Indian users.

The data was telling us people didn't have as many friends in common. In the US, it might've been on just making up a number. On average, we saw 22 friends in common when you make a friendship connection. But in India, it was like seven, right? And then there was a lot of friending and messaging or friending and unfriending. We're like, what's going on here?
Bangaly Kaba
Bangaly Kaba

"We looked at the data in a different way. What are the most common names on Facebook? And we looked at, and the top 10 common names are Indian names. And the most common name was Amit Kumar. And there was like 250,000 people a month who used Amit Kumar who were real people."

The Solution To address this, the team had to rethink how profiles and people recommendations were structured to be more relevant to the cultural context of Indian users. They implemented the following solutions:

  • Enhanced Profile Information: The team added more relevant fields to the profile page that catered to the Indian users’ context. This included additional identifiers that made it easier for users to distinguish between friends with common names.

  • Improved Friend Suggestions: By using additional data points and improving the algorithm for friend suggestions, the system could better identify and recommend the correct friends even when names were common.

Identifying Growth Opportunities

This topic is also covered in this video stemming from his background at Instagram.

When evaluating new opportunities, Bangaly advises considering the manager, resources, scope, team skills, compensation, and company culture.

Key Quote: "The manager is the most important variable in the environment because a great manager who is empathetic, who is aware of what's going on, who is a great communicator, has the ability to move the chess pieces around and to fix some of these for you."

Mentorship and Learning

Bangaly highlights the importance of having multiple mentors and learning from others' experiences. He believes in a stable of mentors for diverse perspectives and continuous learning.

Key Quote: "You want to have three or four mentors... if you have three or four mentors, you have someone different to talk to every week."

Growth Strategies

Bangaly discusses the importance of understanding user needs and building growth flywheels. He shares how partnerships and SEO were crucial in Instagram's early growth.

Key Quote: "It's really thinking about what is the job and then what is the flywheel to make that happen, and how do we make this come to life?"

Managing Complex Change

Bangaly uses a framework for managing complex change, focusing on vision, skills, incentives, resources, and an action plan to drive effective change in teams.

Complex Change Diagram

"If you're missing the vision component, you end up in a state of confusion or if you're missing the incentives, you end up in a state of resistance because people aren't incentivized to do the right work."

The Aha Moment

In the world of product management, identifying the "aha moment" for users is crucial. This moment is when users experience the core value of a product, which significantly increases their likelihood of becoming long-term users. Bangaly Kaba emphasizes the importance of this in his approach to growth and retention.

The most important thing to do is actually get regular human-to-human connections in the first whatever, when people first sign up so that when you Lenny actually go make your first post, your friends would see it and you would be validated and you would feel like, okay, this is a place for me. I have a community here.
Bangaly Kaba
Bangaly Kaba

Reducing Friction in Signup

Bangaly shares a story from his time at Instagram, where he worked on reducing friction in the signup process. The team identified a significant issue with users being unable to log back into their accounts, leading to a high churn rate.

"When you log out we say, Hey Lenny, it looks like you're going to log out, do you want us to save your credentials on your advice so you don't have to worry about your password? And then we later added an ability to have a password. And that's all basically the other half."

By addressing this problem, the team was able to significantly increase monthly active users and improve user retention. This led to further innovations like the creation of a multiple accounts team, enhancing the user experience even more.

"We were able to solve this ... And this actually helped drive public 15, 20 million extra month active users a year, but what was also super interesting was that it helped us to realize that getting people back into their account more drove more account content creation on incident in ways that we didn't expect."


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