The Art of User Interviewing and LinkedIn's Growth Strategy: Unveiling the Secrets to Success

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Sep 22, 2023

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The Art of User Interviewing and LinkedIn's Growth Strategy: Unveiling the Secrets to Success

Introduction:

User interviews are a crucial aspect of product development, allowing businesses to gain valuable insights from their target audience. In this article, we will explore the art of user interviewing and delve into LinkedIn's growth strategy, highlighting the steps they took to go from 500,000 to 500 million users in just 13 years. By connecting the common points between these two topics, we can uncover actionable advice that can be applied to any business looking to optimize their growth through user interviews.

Step 1: Prepare a Discussion Guide:

Before conducting user interviews, it is essential to prepare a discussion guide. Keep in mind that interviewees can only retain a limited amount of information in their short-term memory, so it is recommended to keep questions concise, preferably under 20 words. This ensures that interviewees can easily understand and respond to the questions, leading to more accurate and insightful responses.

Step 2: Things to Do When Interviewing People:

  • 1. Put yourself in the mood: Before conducting an interview, it is crucial to be in the right mindset. Create a welcoming and comfortable environment that encourages open and honest communication.
  • 2. Provide a warm welcome: Make sure interviewees feel comfortable and valued from the moment they enter the interview space. This establishes a positive rapport and encourages interviewees to share their thoughts and experiences freely.
  • 3. Build an arc: Structure the interview in a way that flows naturally, allowing the conversation to build upon previous answers. This helps to uncover deeper insights and ensures a comprehensive understanding of the interviewee's perspective.
  • 4. Explain that there are no right or wrong answers: Encourage interviewees to express their opinions and thoughts without fear of judgment. Assure them that the purpose of the interview is to gather diverse perspectives and understand their experiences, rather than seeking validation.
  • 5. Start off with easy questions: Begin the interview with simple and non-intrusive questions to ease interviewees into the conversation. This helps to build trust and confidence, making them more likely to open up as the interview progresses.
  • 6. Ask interviewees about specific moments in the past: To elicit more detailed responses, refer to real-life examples and ask interviewees to recall specific moments or experiences. These references serve as powerful supplements that bring memories flooding back, providing valuable insights.
  • 7. Ask follow-up questions: Dive deeper into the interviewee's responses by asking follow-up questions that explore their thoughts and feelings in more detail. This helps to uncover underlying motivations and allows for a more comprehensive understanding of their perspective.
  • 8. Prioritize open-ended questions: Instead of asking closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no," focus on open-ended questions that encourage interviewees to share their thoughts and experiences in their own words. This allows for more nuanced responses and facilitates a deeper understanding of their needs and preferences.
  • 9. Ask for extremes: Encourage interviewees to share extreme experiences or opinions, as these often reveal valuable insights. By understanding the extremes, businesses can identify opportunities for improvement or innovation.
  • 10. Ask to observe behavior: In addition to asking questions, consider observing the interviewee's behavior during the interview. Non-verbal cues can provide valuable information and help uncover insights that may not be expressed verbally.
  • 11. When in doubt, clarify: If an interviewee's response is unclear or ambiguous, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. This ensures that you fully understand their perspective and avoids any misinterpretations.
  • 12. Keep an eye on the time: Respect the interviewee's time by being mindful of the duration of the interview. Set a clear timeframe and ensure that the conversation stays on track without going overtime.
  • 13. Minimize note-taking: While it is important to take notes during the interview, be mindful not to let it distract from active listening and engagement. Minimize note-taking to ensure that you can fully focus on the interviewee's responses and non-verbal cues.
  • 14. Watch out for non-verbal clues: Pay attention to the interviewee's body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Non-verbal clues can provide valuable insights into their emotions and attitudes, complementing their verbal responses.
  • 15. Finish with a wrap-up summary: Before concluding the interview, summarize the key points discussed. This allows interviewees to confirm or add any additional insights, ensuring a comprehensive and accurate understanding of their perspective.

Step 3: Things to Avoid When Interviewing People:

  • 1. Don't ask leading questions: Avoid questions that suggest a desired answer or steer interviewees towards a particular response. This preserves the integrity of the interview and ensures unbiased insights.
  • 2. Don't fill the silence: Embrace moments of silence during the interview. It gives interviewees time to reflect and provide more thoughtful responses. Avoid the urge to fill these pauses and allow for natural conversation flow.
  • 3. Don't draw attention to specific issues: Refrain from highlighting specific issues or biases during the interview. This can influence interviewees' responses and compromise the authenticity of their feedback.
  • 4. Don't ask if they'd buy your product: Instead of directly asking interviewees if they would purchase your product, focus on understanding their needs, pain points, and preferences. This helps to identify opportunities for product improvement and better align with user expectations.
  • 5. Don't answer a user's questions: During the interview, avoid the temptation to provide answers or explanations to the interviewee's questions. The purpose of the interview is to gather insights, not to educate or persuade.
  • 6. Resist the urge to judge or educate your interviewees: Maintain a neutral and unbiased stance throughout the interview. Avoid passing judgment or trying to educate interviewees on the "correct" perspective. This ensures that their responses are genuine and uninfluenced.
  • 7. Don't express your own opinion: Remember that the interview is about understanding the interviewee's perspective, not expressing your own opinions. Remain neutral and focused on gathering insights.

LinkedIn's Growth Strategy:

LinkedIn's growth from 500,000 to 500 million users in just 13 years can be attributed to a systematic approach to growth. By studying their journey, we can discover valuable insights that can be applied to any business looking to scale their user base effectively.

Stage One: Stimulating Virality:

In the early days, LinkedIn focused on stimulating virality by ensuring that growth was built into the product. They recognized that everyone within the company was part of the growth team and worked collectively towards this goal. By integrating growth strategies into the product itself, LinkedIn encouraged users to invite their connections, resulting in exponential growth.

Stage Two: Systematizing Growth:

As LinkedIn scaled, they began investing more in growth from 2008 to 2011. They built a dedicated growth team consisting of product people, marketers, data scientists, and engineers. This team focused on making growth a systematic process, identifying major growth channels through user behavior analysis. By understanding how users were finding the platform, LinkedIn optimized their strategies to maximize growth.

Stage Three: Using Data to Ramp Up Growth Rate:

In the final stage, LinkedIn took a data-driven approach to understand their members beyond the acquisition stage. They defined a "North Star" metric for success, emphasizing the importance of a good product before focusing on growth. By leveraging data and analytics, LinkedIn identified growth channels, enabling them to refine their strategies and accelerate their growth rate.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Prioritize user experience and product quality: Like LinkedIn, prioritize creating a great product that delivers value to users. Growth should be a byproduct of a good product, not the sole focus. Invest in user experience and continuously refine your offerings to meet user needs.
  • 2. Leverage data to inform growth strategies: Analyze user behavior and identify key growth channels. Understand how users are finding your product and optimize your strategies accordingly. Data-driven insights provide a solid foundation for effective growth planning.
  • 3. Foster a growth-oriented culture: Encourage everyone in your organization to be part of the growth team. When everyone understands the importance of growth and actively contributes to it, the entire company becomes aligned towards achieving exponential growth.

Conclusion:

Mastering the art of user interviewing and implementing a systematic growth strategy are essential components of building a successful business. By following the actionable advice provided and drawing inspiration from LinkedIn's growth journey, businesses can optimize their user interviews and accelerate their growth rates. Remember to prepare a comprehensive discussion guide, prioritize user experience, leverage data-driven insights, and foster a growth-oriented culture. With these strategies in place, businesses can unlock the potential for exponential growth and cultivate a loyal user base.

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