Building a community is no small feat, but the work doesn't end once you have 50, or even 5,000 people. If anything, the real work is just beginning. Now that you have people paying attention, you have to keep them not only excited and interested in the information you're distributing, but engaged with you, with your company, and most importantly with each other. It's this engagement that truly creates a "sticky" community and keeps people coming back.
But what happens when that engagement dies down? Let me clarify: every community ebbs and flows, but what about when it ebbs and doesn't come back to "flow"?
There are a number of solutions, from re-engagement strategies to completely shuttering the community. But what most people don't realize about engagement is that the companies who seem to handle it effortlessly do so because they've prepared for every possible scenario. They have the right people in the room, they've clear on their mission, and they're equipped to fan the flame should the conversation start to die down.
This week's newsletter offers a variety of articles on engagement, from the community commitment curve to how to engage the users who notoriously don't engage. I hope it's helpful as you strive to engage your own communities!
Speaking of engagement... there's one reason why this week's newsletter is so delayed. If you've been keeping up with me on Twitter, you'll know that this past Thursday & Friday was REdeploy, the conference that I've been planning alongside J. Paul Reed. I anticipated being able to send out the newsletter per usual (turns out, I was wrong) and then with the added enagement of the conference, wasn't able to get to it on Thursday or Friday evenings either. I took my own advice and took Saturday almost completely off to recover... long story short, the conference was an incredible time of conversation, the newsletter took a back seat temporarily, and we're back in business now. Thanks for your patience!
One quick note about the next few weeks: If you're a loyal reader you know that I've been looking for volunteers to help me out over the next three weeks as I'm taking some much-needed time off and away from my laptop! I'm really excited to have some fantastic content for you from DevRel and community professionals just like yourself! Keep sending me your feedback though -- you can be sure I'll be reading it upon my return! Enjoy the last few weeks of your summer and I'll see you in September!
I've had a few chats this week about measuring #devrel efficacy. I found a term for the thing we all talk about! "Goodhart's law states that once a social or economic measure is turned into a target for policy, it will lose any information content that had qualified it to play such a role in the first place."
My Love Language is Metrics
Anyone else get dorky & giddy when you find new data points for your #community? It may just be me 😆
Communities can be a Distraction
This morning, I spent 2 hours convincing a client NOT to build a brand community. When leaders are finally free not to think about following others' buzzwords, they can make room to create more meaningful community on their own terms in their own time.
I do not believe that community is inherently valuable to any of us, especially not to those interacting with a business (this was a Social Purpose Corp and I still strongly believe this). Many communities distract from the long-term impact that an organization aims to create.
The conditions for a community that is useful to both members and the business must be JUST right, or at least closer to right than most orgs are today.
Unlike product engineering, #DevRel engineering teams can afford to be moderate code cowboys 🤠🤠🤠
Like Elon Musk building Teslas under a tent in the parking lot: not the most robust approach, but it helps your team scale when you need to pop out 300k extra model 3s
By DevRel Engineering projects I'm referring to things like framework integrations, starter kits, demos, etc. Tools that help you build apps, not necessarily the critical infrastructure you rely on to keep track of your company's financial transactions.
And by Code Cowboy I mean writing code with a focus on productivity and practicality. We still write test suites, but we don't bike shed and we don't yak shave. 🐃🐃🐃
We're the Red Team
Amusing thought of the day. Developer Relations is akin to a red team or aggressor squadron, charged with upskilling an API engineering team by showing them how customer engineers actually think.
What Type of Professional Does Your Organization Need?
Although I already blogged about it in 2010, I still often see the two roles of social media and community manager getting confused. And that while the profile of a social media manager is really different from that of a community manager. Social media managers are often marketers at heart and are keeping the strategic use of content to get as much value from social media as possible. Community managers are connecters and want to facilitate optimal needs of groups of people in order to optimize, among others, organizations. What type of professional does your organization need?
One Metric To Rule Them All!
"One metric to rule them all" sounds like an idyllic situation! If we could simply find that one silver bullet that would not only answer all of the questions but also demonstrate our value consistently, it would make our lives so much easier! As Dion Almer of Google says,
Clarity is so much easier to rationalize and measure, so who wouldn’t rather have a black and white world? The problem is that it is easy to go blind and start on a path that leads you to at best a local maxima, and most commonly to a rather bad spot, especially if you land on a vanity metric.
Read more about why this doesn't work in his recent post.
How I built a global tech community and company with zero code
People ask me all the time how I got started in tech and I often feel the need to clarify whether they're asking about my professional career or my programming experience. Like Abadeski Osunsade, I'm not a developer. Don't get me wrong... I understand the concepts and can piece things together enough that I can test (and demo) sample applications as well as have in-depth conversations with folks about how particular tech works, but don't look at me to refactor (or even review) your code.
So how does someone who doesn't code successful build a technical community? Abadesi tells her story in this blogpost. Interested in learning more? Reach out! I'm always happy to share more of my story as well.
The Wild West of the internet – Reddit may be your brand’s secret weapon
If you've been nervous to dig into Reddit in the past, I don't blame you! It's relatively difficult to navigate and at times feels like something of a black box: you know that there might be valuable information in there somewhere, but figuring out how to find it or even what you're looking for is difficult. But as this article states, if you approach it with caution and thoughtfulness, it may just be the key to finding your community.
The community is tech savvy and isn’t hesitant to call out organisations that do not appear completely authentic. Brands can succeed when they become part of the community, initiating and taking part in conversation, not through marketing or pushing one-way messages. You need to rethink every social platform strategy you have (which face it, is generally a one-way content post) because Reddit engagement requires a thorough understanding of online communities.
Developer Relations revelations : social media can be pretty anti-social
In his next installment of "Developer Relations revelations," Christian Heilmann takes a deep dive into social media: how to manage and mitigate risk while at the same time being genuine and engaging.
Community Commitment Curves: What They Are & How to Use Them
One of the most frustrating answers to a question is "It depends," but often in community-related work, that's the correct answer! However, in all of these situations, there are either more questions to ask or a framework to follow that will help you get closer to the right answer for your community.
Carrie Melissa Jones digs into this concept for community engagement in a guest blogpost this past week.
If you've ever had a hard time putting a number value to the worth of the developers on your platform, you're not alone! We all know inherently that they're good for the platform, but often that answer isn't good enough for executives to take back to the board. Ian Barber lays out important questions to ask to determine the monetary value of your developer audience in a way that will make sense to your stakeholders.
Gaining Customer Experience Insights: A New Twist on an Old(er) List
In technology, we have a tendency to always look forward. After all, things are always changing, growing, moving in a new direction... why would we want to look backward to find the answer to our questions? In this article from Lisa Loftis, she encourages us to look back to customer feedback principles made popular on a webcast from 2015. By applying new context, she shows us how these "old" principles are not only still relevant, but incredibly timely.
One from the Archives 📰
Dark Matter Developers: The Unseen 99%
As I've touched on before, the hardest people to reach in your community are those who remain relatively quiet. They're the lurkers... those who are determined to not be seen or heard. Scott Hanselman calls these folks dark matter developers:
You can't see dark matter, but we're pretty sure it's there. Not only is it there, but it's MOST of what's there. We know it and we can't see it. It never shows up.
Developer Relations Events
With the summer wrapping up, we've got a lot of fall events to look forward to! Know of events that are taking place that aren't on this list? Hit reply and let me know!
Developer Advocate – Kendo UI for React
Algolia Developer Advocate
The Algolia Developer Relations team is looking to grow and would love to have you be a part of the team! Developers make up a large part of our community, and Algolia Developer Advocates play a crucial role in keeping developers both informed and inspired about what’s possible. Choose your adventure with writing code and blogging, speaking and traveling or helping with partnerships!
Developer Relations Jobs
Rachel Happe made a statement this week that resonated with me:
You know what is encouraging?
I am seeing a lot of openings for junior community management roles. That means 1) Fewer lone wolf #cmgr 2) Promotions for others 3) Increasing budgets
Janice (aka Vanitea) had a similar thought:
It's amazing how many AWESOME community jobs are out there right now! Love seeing our field gaining more permanence and prominence in organizations.
From what I can see (and what the Toby collection shows), she's got a point! Take a look at all of the new junior (and senior) roles this week, and happy job hunting!
"Looking for a job while you already have one can be difficult," Hayley Denbraver says, and I think most of us would agree! Hayley took the time to jot down some observations about job hunting and how to put your best foot forward this past week and I love some of the observations she makes. Relevant for DevRel job hunters as well as everyone else.
Developer Avocados 🥑
After what feels like running a marathon at a sprint pace for the last 9 months, I'm off for a few weeks! I'm disconnecting from my laptop, social media, and my email. I'll be back in September and can't wait to hear all of your feedback about the guest posts that will be included in the newsletter while I'm gone. Have a great 3 weeks!