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The Top 10 Tips For Becoming A Successful Digital Product Manager

In this article, we’re going to delve into the Top 10 Tips For Becoming A Successful Digital Product Manager – from skills and experience to personality traits that you absolutely need in order to succeed as a digital product manager.

If you’ve been following my work here on Medium, you’ll know I’m obsessed with digital product management. Put simply: it’s the best job in tech! You get paid great money to make stuff people love – how often does that happen? So, let’s talk about how you can become a successful digital product manager. Here are my top 10 tips for success: Be it a particular product or technology – become known as the expert in your company. Write regularly on Medium, LinkedIn and Quora – you’ll build up an audience and get noticed for your deep knowledge of a topic. 

This is perfect preparation for becoming a kick-ass product manager: communicating clearly with stakeholders about complex things so they understand what you’re saying; building long term relationships that allow you to be trusted; and gaining respect amongst your peers through sharing expertise. Your profile will eventually draw senior execs in to read what you’ve written and it’s likely they’ll ask for advice about their products too (heck, I found my last two jobs this way). The best thing? You set the agenda when it comes to topics you particularly care about.

I am writing this post because I have a confession to make: I get a lot of inspiration from product management blogs and forums, but hardly ever share what I’ve learned. For example, last year my social media feeds were full of posts by managers at Facebook and Google talking about their new initiatives on measuring engagement . But when someone reached out for advice on how to measure the success of a news app, I had nothing much to say. In case you haven’t guessed already, my confession is that I am a recovering academic . Academia has helped me over the years to become a better researcher , communicator and thinker . 

However it has some downsides too: it can be lonely; there’s little time for deep thinking; and much of what you read is published in inaccessible journals that don’t attract a wide readership. Which explains at least part of the reason I’ve been so quiet online. But I’m stepping out from my ivory tower for a little bit to write about something I’ve been working on during this year: how do we measure engagement with news ? Mainly, if everyone else is writing about it, why can’t I?

The elephant in the room It’s well known that user metrics are an important performance indicator for apps . In fact it sometimes feels as if everything we do depends on them – whether our app gets featured or not, whether funding continues or not. Without good metrics, your chances of long term success are slim – a fact that’s even more true in the app industry.

This is a problem for us news developers, though – because it means our work is measured against entertainment apps or social networks, not actually against other forms of media! There are no good metrics for measuring engagement with news . In fact there’s barely any overlap between what we think of as “news” and what measures well on an app store. Some bad examples:

The issue here should be clear: just because you click links doesn’t mean that you’re engaged with anything – especially if those links take you to different apps! A listicle simply doesn’t have the same parameters as a long-form article about politics or business. It might certainly drive traffic to a site, but it’s not a measurement of how much someone cares about the subject being covered.

Intuitively, engagement with non-entertainment content has to be different from entertainment articles or videos. You can’t really measure that kind of engagement except anecdotally – and regardless, it should never come down to clicks alone.

The fact is that there’s no reliable way to measure engagement for news articles . It would be unfair if we did hold sites to a higher standard than other apps on the Play Store, but until we have better data there probably isn’t even a useful solution here anyway! What works in one country might not work in another; what appeals to young people doesn’t appeal to old people… you the idea. Without having any concrete way of measuring engagement in a universal sense, it simply becomes a judgement call.

In the future we’ll probably add more specific pointers about what to avoid or be aware of when designing your app’s content rating. We still believe that this is a judgement call on our part and hope you understand why we made the rating system as inclusive as possible.

Red Note: 30 September 2022

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