I'm Ben Lang, Head of Community at Notion. AMA ๐Ÿ‘‡

Ben Lang
82 replies
Back in 2018, I launched Notion Pages on Product Hunt, it was the #2 product of the week. Shortly after, I joined Notion to support the community. Our community has written books about Notion, created mascots, hosted hundreds of events, started full-time businesses around Notion, and much more. Many of the highest-ranking products on Product Hunt in the past two years have been Notion templates. Going back in time, Notion launched on Product Hunt in 2016 as one of the most upvoted products of all time. More than 20 million people use Notion today. I was user #1880 on Product Hunt and I've hunted more than 360 products. AMA!

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Ivรกn Fanego
Hi Ben! I am curious, how did you manage to explain what Notion was in its early days? I mean, I use Notion, but at it was difficult for me at the beginning to understand what was it (and to be honest, I am still missing 95% of its potential!) What I mean, how did you start communicating its value proposition?
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@ivan_fanego This is something we think about a lot. Candidly, early on, the best way to describe our value was to talk about how Notion combined the functionality of many other tools together - this is a common way just to anchor a product in people's minds. As collaboration tools have become more critical for all teams, this messaging has evolved and become more sophisticated. Today, we call Notion collaboration software, and when it comes to value props, we underscore the benefits of speed and alignment that get unlocked when people have the ability to tailor their own tools to fit their needs. Still, though, the most helpful description tends to be the one that just says outright that it combines docs, wikis, and project management in a single, customizable space.
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Ivรกn Fanego
@benln Thanks a lot. The value of the analogy (docs, wikis, and project management) is underrated hehe.
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Nina Hรถdlmayr
Co-Founder & unlined.app
Hi Ben! Wat I'm curious about is - why do you think Notion has such an impact on the Product Hunt community? What are the common similarities within the community that Notion received such wide positive responses? Cheers!
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@ninayodel Hi Nina! I think there are a few reasons Notion has resonated strongly with the Product Hunt community - You can build powerful tools/products - It's quick and easy to build - There's a growing ecosystem of early adopters using Notion The team and I have been amazed to see so many talented makers here launching template packs, individual templates, and apps built on Notion โœจ
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Atul Ghorpade
Marketer. SEO. Love to engage.
@ninayodel @benln Wow. Great explanation, Ben.
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Elie Steinbock
CEO, FrontWork
Hi Ben! Love what youโ€™re doing at Notion. What tip would give you founders starting a community today?
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@eliezer_steinbock1 Hi Eliezer ๐Ÿ‘‹ First, try to understand what exactly your core users want. - Where could you provide value - What could they learn from each other - What could they learn from you - What do they love about your product Set up as many calls with your early fans and users to build this framework together.
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Atul Ghorpade
Marketer. SEO. Love to engage.
Notion is really amazing. Hope so I will create something valuable of it. Let's see.
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Atul Ghorpade
Marketer. SEO. Love to engage.
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
Roi Ziko
Hi Ben ๐Ÿ‘‹ Can you pick a project you've been involved in that you're especially proud of?
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@roiziko Hey Roi! I'm quite proud of International Hummus Day http://hummusday.com. It's been a lot of fun seeing so many people celebrate hummus over the years.
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Donia Ahmed
Hi Ben I love notion and would like to get some tips as I started my community management career in Premast. How could you keep the flow of the community and how to increase members number .. Thanks in advance and your help is appreciated
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@donia_ahmed I'd highly recommend checking out communities and resources for community managers, there are some great ones - https://www.community.club/ - https://www.community.club/c-school - https://cmxhub.com/
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Donia Ahmed
@benln thank you so much
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Jordi Mon Companys
Product Marketing Director
Ben please do ask how your Product Marketing colleagues manage their remit with Notion and, hey, if they want to open their templates that would help any product marketer big time! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@jordimonpmm Hey Jordi! I don't quite know what you mean by remit?
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Jordi Mon Companys
Product Marketing Director
@benln Me neither, to be fair. I'm on holidays and probably switched all systems off. I just want to know how Product Marketing at Notion uses Notion templates and workspaces internally. That's all.
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@jordimonpmm Ah good question! Have you seen this post? https://www.notion.so/blog/how-n... We share how we use Notion at Notion.
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Jordi Mon Companys
Product Marketing Director
@benln Thanks! I did. It's not specific enough. I'm thinking of message houses, positioning frameworks and stuff like that that typically product marketers manage and update.
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@jordimonpmm Got it! Will share with our blog team, that would be fantastic material for a future post.
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Johann Molinari
Popwork co-founder
Hi Ben, when did you feel that Notion had the right product market feel? What was the key difference vs what you had before?
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@johann_molinari That's a great question! I joined Notion after we had product market fit, so I missed that part of the company growth. I will investigate and see what I can find out ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ
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Johann Molinari
Popwork co-founder
@benln thanks for the AMA and any info you can get on this! Super useful and interesting
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@johann_molinari Thanks Johann! Appreciate it.
Dafni Chontou
Product Manager @ BCGDV
Hi Ben ๐Ÿ‘‹ Iโ€™m a big fan of Notion and the engagement of the community is really impressive! How do the very early days of community building look like and what are key points founders/ community builders should keep in mind as theyโ€™re growing them? This is particularly interesting from the angle of product+community (eg Notion community) vs. community as a product company (eg Product Hunt). Many thanks!
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@dafnihnd Hi Dafni, I'd say having as many conversations as possible would be tremendously valuable early on. Talk to power users, anyone who's really excited about what you're building and try to understand: - What do they love about your product - What kind of value are you unlocking for them - How could they learn more from you and other users As you understand and learn more, you could start to build a framework to grow your community.
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Dafni Chontou
Product Manager @ BCGDV
@benln thanks, Ben! We recently starting onboarding our users via short 1-1 calls and collect so much valuable feedback. These are some great questions to bring into these conversations.
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Sofia Silva
Ben, hi Thank you so much for doing this, congrats on the incredible work. For early-stage startups that want to build communities, what are the: - top 3 do, - top 3 donยดt - 3 main differences between B2B & B2C communities - what stack would you use today to build a community Thank you! _SMB
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Dawn Veltri
@sofia_de_mello_barreto Commenting because I definitely want to see this answer.
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@sofia_de_mello_barreto @dawn_veltri1 Hi Sofia! Good question! Do - Talk to your power users, get to know them - Listen to what your users want, empower them - Test and iterate all the time Don't - Force adoption of a certain tool without getting feedback - Try to do everything yourself, outsource/delegate where possible - Move too slowly Differences - Platforms, where users hang out - Purpose of connection with others Tools I love - Notion ๐Ÿ™ƒ - Swagup - Zapier - Slack - Commsor - Luma
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Goutham
Build your social proof with famewall.io
Hey Ben. Notion's got diamond hands! Was curious how Notion got its first 100 users? And what was the main value proposition at that time?
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@gouthamj That's a great question! I wasn't working at Notion at that time, so I'd be curious to find out as well. Will investigate ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ
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Andrew Kpyto
Digital Marketer at Sembly AI โ€๐Ÿš€
Hi Ben! Two short questions :) 1) What is your longest "day streak" on PH? 2) When Notion team accidentally release promo code for startups (1500$) on public, what was your strategy to communicate with a community?
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@kpyto 1) Good question, I don't know! Is there a way to check? If I had to guess, 50+ days 2) Our Customer Experience team did a fantastic job communicating with our users when that happened. It was definitely a learning experience for everyone involved!
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Joshua Dance
Engineer, Product, athlete, indie hacker
Hi Ben. Can you give us any solid time lines for offline mode and faster search? Nearly every week I entertain looking for a Notion alternative. I can't use Notion on the plane. I can't use it in a grocery store with bad cell coverage and no Wifi. I can't use it in a train with no Wifi. And search is honestly one of the worst search experiences out of all the products I use. Each search takes 3-5 seconds, Notion ignores standard search notation like "exact match" and -don't include. Please I am looking for an olive branch. :) Thanks!
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@joshdance Hi Joshua, I'm so sorry to hear that and I feel your pain. The same things happen to me, so I totally get it. I wish I could give you a solid timeline, but unfortunately I don't have one to share. Our engineering team is working hard to make Notion a better experience for everyone, hope you can stick with us ๐Ÿคž
Saurabh Chandarana
๐Ÿš€ Built zcal to make scheduling personal
What platforms did you use initially to build a community? Any recommendations for starters (esp. in B2C space)?
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@saurabhc We took a different approach and saw our users launching their own communities early on, you can find the list here https://www.notion.so/community They exist on Facebook, Slack, Telegram, Reddit, Discord, all over!
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Thomas Frank
YouTuber, Notion Nerd
Hey Ben! I'd love to know the story behind how Notion decided on a productivity approach in the beginning with respect to marketing, since the tool can be a lot more flexible than that!
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@tomfrankly Hey Thomas, great to see you here! Your content and everything you do in the Notion community is a big part of what I love so much about working at Notion :) That's a good question, I don't actually think we focused primarily on marketing to productivity oriented users, I think it just happened to resonate very strongly with productivity folks and in related communities. If you look at our website, the Solutions pages are Design, Engineering, Product, Managers, Startups, Students, Remote. Would be very curious to hear why you think Notion has resonated so much for productivity focused people.
Margarita Shvetsova
Launched Nitro today ๐Ÿš€
Hi Ben! When one works on something for several years, it often happens that one gets kind of bored with it. Could you share what keeps you excited after working with Notion for several years? And also, what makes you excited about hunting products here on PH? I am one of those people who failed to get you as a hunter (sorry if I mentioned that several times today ๐Ÿ˜‡), but I am really interested, why it keeps being interesting to be a hunter. The platform goes through changes, the person (hunter) changes... Would be cool to hear about your motivation โœŒ
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@margarita_s88 Hi Margarita! That's a great question, I think with Notion it comes to down to the product and community. I love using Notion, I think it's a revolutionary product and it keeps getting better. And I love the community, I'm so inspired by everyone involved in the Notion ecosystem, it really blows my mind each day when I wake up. As for Product Hunt, I generally hunt things I'm excited about using myself. I often miss things, but I try my best! So sorry for not hunting your product.
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Margarita Shvetsova
Launched Nitro today ๐Ÿš€
@benln thank you for your reply, Ben. That's awesome that the product keeps you excited. In fact, I encountered many Notion plans for a Product Hunt launch and I thought to myself - hey, this Notion looks great, I can probably use it too! Just need to give me some time about what it can do :) Interesting product and inspiring community - what a great mix! Appreciate your comment on why you launch certain products :) I know you receive lots of messages about PH launches daily - so I wasn't surprised I didn't get a reply. But we did end up getting to #4 Product of the day on Monday - even without a hunter, so I am happy anyway ๐Ÿ˜€
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Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@margarita_s88 Very happy to hear you ended up as #4, that's wonderful!
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Felix Exner
Product Manager of Appsedia
Hey Ben, I wondered what kind of tools you are using on your day-to-day basis to stay up to date and connected to your community?
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@exnerfelix A few of my favorites - Notion ๐Ÿ™ƒ (example - https://www.notion.so/community) - Swagup - Zapier - Slack - Commsor - Luma
Anil Meena
Building Pensil
Managing & Growing a community is a skill, Please can share some of the key points to remember while starting a community.
Kapil Gadhire
Building Magnifi.ai
Nice to meet you @benln ! Most of my questions are already asked by others, I would just say hi and tell you that you guys have build a wonderful product and amazing community!
Ben Lang
Community @NotionHQ, angel investor
@kapilgadhire Thank you so much Kapil! It's great to meet you here :)
Farokh Shahabi
Co-founder & CEO at Formaloo
Hi Ben, What do you think would be the next breakthrough in the no-code industry?
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