3 Questions with a Tech Lady: Emma Tangoren of Instagram

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Hi Emma! Can you tell us a little about your role at Instagram?

Hi! I’m a Product Marketing Manager at Instagram. I joined the team about 3 months ago, and I just moved out to San Francisco from New York, where I spent two years at Kickstarter.

As a PMM, I work with our product teams to ship features to our Instagram community. I work with a cross-functional team to plan product marketing efforts, often collaborating with people from communications, design, partnerships, and policy. This includes everything from strategic product positioning to on-the-ground events — Instagram definitely still operates like a startup. Being a PMM means you often roll-up your sleeves to get the job done :)

Some of my recent projects include Instagram Stories (which launched this past week) and working on the Rio Summer Olympics. For The Games, I helped coordinate our efforts across all of Instagram and alongside the broader Facebook team. Instagram has a number of events in Rio, created specific topic channels on Explore, shared dedicated editorial content, and pitched a number of stories about our Olympic efforts.

You recently launched Instagram Stories, what have you learned about working on launching new products in your career?

This is a tough one — I think the most important thing I’ve learned when launching new things is you just have to put it out there and see what people say. You can noodle on something and iterate internally until you’re blue in the face, but the best test for a new product is the people who will use it everyday.

At Kickstarter, we worked on a product called Campus for a while. It’s basically a Q&A space for Kickstarter Creators, and we weren’t sure what exactly our community wanted in this space. The fastest way we learned what worked (and what didn’t!) was by putting it out there and letting people give it a go. Our community quickly showed us what they wanted in the space, and we were able to build off of that feedback.

What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known earlier in your career?

Have confidence in what you know — and be comfortable with what you don’t know. In the past I had been timid to speak up in certain situations (think: a big conference room with lots of different attendees). Over time I learned it’s important to share my thoughts and experiences, both to make an impact on the company and to build trust with my team.

On the flip side, I learned to accept when I didn’t have the answer to something. Admitting what I didn’t know helped me push outside my comfort zone and seek out new perspectives, and it’s made me a stronger person in both my career and my personal life.