At Pinata, user feedback drives almost everything we do. From product, to marketing, to business development, the conversations we have with customers—current, past, and potential—are a strong guide to how we prioritize our work.
It’s likely that you value your customers the same way. But what we’ve found is that communicating their thoughts and comments to the rest of your company can be pretty difficult—there isn’t a clear path to turning user feedback into actionable insights across departments. That’s why we started our own internal Pinata Community Updates. Our community team has been publishing these updates every week for almost a year—they have quickly become one of our favorite and most important Friday rituals.
From these updates, we’ve consistently created better content, better products, and made better decisions for our overall business. We want to give you an inside peak to what those Community Updates look like, how we make them, and what we learned from using our own product in the process.
Before we get into it, here's a quick snippet to give you an idea of how our Community Updates feel.
The Origin of Pinata’s Community Updates
Many companies send around the occasional email update about what’s going on, and maybe a newsletter that shares the biggest highlights. But when our Head of Community Steve Simkins started with Pinata, he was given a clear “what,” but the “how” was all up to him.
“When I first started at Pinata as a community manager it was made perfectly clear the importance of what my job was: listen to users. Kyle asked me to start a weekly video that updated the Pinata team about what was going on in the Pinata community. I decided the format would be pretty straight forward: Discord membership stats, support messages, cool projects our users were working on (aka positive vibes), and lastly common problems that our users were facing.”
A simple formula, but extremely effective. The positive vibes and common problems proved immediately valuable to understand how people were using Pinata, and what we needed to improve. As the main point of contact with our customers in Discord, Steve had a unique connection to our customers. When you’re thinking what aspects to highlight, ask yourselves:
- What areas will make the biggest impact?
- How can we highlight our customers?
- What common problems deserve a bigger spotlight?
When your team sees customers winning, you can bet there will be extra motivation to keep the momentum going. And when the whole team can get behind a common problem or irritation, chances are that problem will get solved a whole lot faster.
In the beginning, Pinata’s Community Updates were anything but fancy. But the most important part was that they started somewhere, based on what Steve’s skillset was at the time.
"I had some background in photography but none in video, so I just started out simple with my laptop web camera. They were bad. Like hard-to-look-at bad, but it was a crucial first step towards something important. Over time I moved on to make higher quality production videos with better gear, better software, and now I like to think it’s at a place where people enjoy tuning in."
No matter what you’re able to do, you have to start somewhere. If you don’t know video editing, you can use your webcam and throw together some graphics in Canva. Pinata’s Community Updates are proof that consistency turns into a better product.
The Power in Using your Own Product
From the beginning, we were faced with an interesting problem: where should these videos live? Technically, Google Drive or Loom could have worked, but since these updates contain sensitive information, we needed to make sure they were private.
We realized the solution was sitting right in front of us: Pinata. Our own product supported uploading private files and then revealing them with a time sensitive link, the origins of Submarining today. In some ways it was perfect, but in other ways it wasn’t. Product is always evolving and improving, and by using Pinata every week to send and watch our Community Updates, we learned very quickly what needed to be improved.
One thing Steve discovered quickly was that we needed video streaming for Submarined content. When you understand the difference, the need becomes pretty clear. Streaming allows you to more effectively rewind, fast forward, etc. rather than doing it with raw video in the browser. That’s the beauty of using your own product—we only realized this after team members felt the effect of not having streaming abilities. This internal need turned into a feature to prioritize externally, and now streaming is available (and loved) by users for both normal uploads and Submarined uploads.
Solving the Finer Details
Another inconvenience we encountered was viewing past Community Updates. Over time we had slowly amassed a large collection of videos but since the links were only valid for a short time, if anyone wanted to watch an older update, Steve would have to generate a brand new link. That’s where Submarine’s NFT unlock feature stepped in.
At our last company retreat Justin Hunter, our VP of Product, created a smart contract for Pinata employee NFTs. The NFTs are both soulbound and burnable by an admin, meaning an employee couldn’t send or sell the NFT, and at anytime we could burn the NFT if they lost their wallet and needed a new one. With this enabled and everyone set with an NFT, Steve was able to build a Community Update Library using Submarine. It’s a database with all the Community Updates we’ve ever published with links to each video, along with a short summary. Now any employee can visit that database, click on a video link, and unlock it as much as they want with their employee NFT.
This process of making our updates replayable exposed how far web3 still has to go to onboard users. Not all of our employees have experience with NFTs and crypto wallets, and walking people through that process helped remind us how much work still has work to be done for web3 to scale and reach its full potential.
Good products solve problems, and nothing tests that better than using your own product to solve your problems. In this case, Pinata solved it beautifully, letting us securely share exclusive videos across our company in an efficient way that would otherwise be more clumsy using another service. With the ease of sharing content comes the ease of consuming—a critical feature that we’re continuing to improve upon.
As with all our products and feature releases, these Community Updates are a result of user feedback and understanding what problems we need to solve. That’s exactly the process we use, and it’s the process we recommend to you as you figure out how and what to build for your needs. If you’re interested in learning how to implement something similar for your organization, get in touch and we can walk through your specific use case.