"Community building is about connecting with human beings on a human level, and it starts before you even have a product. It's not just about technology or creating a Discord channel. It's about doing non-scalable things and creating genuine connections." - Ivan Burazin
Building a community before having a product can be a strategic move to generate interest and create awareness. By connecting with people on a personal level and creating non-scalable experiences, you can establish relationships and build trust. Intimate dinners, meetups, and other personalized events are effective ways to achieve this. These interactions allow you to become the centerpiece of the community and connect people who may not have known each other before.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, startup guru Paul Graham believes that it's never too early to start building a community. He emphasizes the importance of manual, personal interactions with early users, stating, "Do things that don't scale." This approach allows startups to truly understand their users' needs and provide a superior experience.
Stripe, the payment platform, is a shining example of community building. They have personally onboarded users, providing exceptional support and attention that set them apart from their competitors. By going the extra mile and building a community around their platform, Stripe fostered deep relationships with their users, establishing a strong foundation for growth.
Drawing from my experiences at Infobip, where we focused heavily on community building through meetups across different continents, I have learned that building a strong community requires more than just a product. It involves creating personal connections, organizing intimate events like dinners, and fostering a sense of belonging and trust.
The recent experience of organizing the Shift conference in Miami has been remarkable. Shift has become a prominent gathering for technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders from around the world. From engaging workshops and insightful panel discussions to memorable networking opportunities, the Shift conference demonstrates the power of community-building and the potential for collaboration and learning within the tech community.
Building a developer community can provide numerous benefits to companies:
Increased Product Adoption and Advocacy: A strong developer community can significantly boost product adoption and advocacy. When developers feel connected to a community that supports and empowers them, they are more likely to actively use and promote products and services. They become brand advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth, writing reviews, and recommending products to their peers. This organic endorsement leads to increased visibility, credibility, and higher product adoption rates.
Enhanced Product Feedback and Iteration: Engaging with developers in a community setting provides a valuable channel for gathering product feedback and insights. Developers are often on the front lines, working with products, identifying bugs, and suggesting improvements. By actively listening to their feedback, companies can make informed decisions about product enhancements and iterate quickly. This strengthens the product-market fit, enhances user experience, and increases customer satisfaction.
Access to Talent and Collaboration Opportunities: A thriving developer community serves as a talent pool, attracting skilled professionals passionate about the industry or technology. By building relationships with developers in the community, you gain access to a network of potential hires and collaborators. This streamlines recruitment efforts and fosters partnerships with talented individuals or organizations. Collaboration within the community leads to knowledge sharing, innovation, and the development of new ideas and solutions.
By starting early, you can create a core group of vocal brand advocates who will promote your company and products to others. Even before having a product, people can be attracted to the aura and reputation surrounding your brand. This creates a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) and curiosity among those who have not experienced your product directly.
"When you ask any engineer if they have to incorporate SMS or communications in their app, the first thing they're going to say is Twilio, and almost exclusively Twilio. And so how much is that really worth? I think everyone is discounting that." - Ivan Burazin
Building a community early on allows you to gather feedback, understand potential customers' pain points, and refine your product based on their needs. This iterative process helps achieve product-market fit by incorporating valuable insights from the community into product development.
Building a community for developers can be a powerful way to create a network of like-minded individuals, foster collaboration, and drive innovation.
Here are some tips and steps on how to successfully build a community for developers:
Define Your Purpose and Values: Clearly define the purpose and values of your community to attract developers who share the same interests and beliefs. Your purpose could be to provide a platform for knowledge sharing, networking, skills development, or creating a supportive environment for developers.
Engage in Online Platforms: Join online platforms frequented by developers, such as developer forums, coding communities, or social media groups. Actively participate in discussions, provide valuable insights, and contribute to solving problems. This establishes you as a knowledgeable and reliable member of the community.
Host Events and Meetups: Organize meetups or events around specific themes or technologies. These gatherings provide opportunities for developers to connect, share experiences, and learn from each other. Consider hosting guest speakers or organizing workshops to further engage the community.
Provide Valuable Content: Create and share valuable content, such as blog posts, tutorials, videos, or podcasts, that address common challenges or provide insights on emerging technologies. This positions you as a thought leader and attracts developers seeking knowledge and guidance.
Encourage Collaboration: Foster a collaborative environment within the community by encouraging developers to share their ideas, projects, and experiences. Facilitate discussions and create channels or groups where developers can engage in peer-to-peer learning and problem-solving.
Offer Mentorship Opportunities: Establish mentorship programs where experienced developers can guide and support aspiring developers. This helps newcomers gain valuable insights and guidance while strengthening the sense of community within your developer network.
Recognize and Reward Contributions: Acknowledge and show appreciation for developers who actively contribute to the community. Highlight their achievements, share their success stories, and reward them with incentives or recognition. This motivates others to participate and contribute.
Create an Online Presence: Establish an online platform, such as a website or a dedicated forum, where developers can connect, share, and collaborate. This platform should be user-friendly and feature-rich, allowing developers to easily access resources, engage in discussions, and showcase their work.
Foster Inclusivity and Diversity: Create an inclusive and diverse community that welcomes developers from all backgrounds, genders, and skill levels. Encourage respectful communication and ensure everyone feels valued and supported.
Continuously Engage and Evolve: Building a community is an ongoing process. Continuously engage with your community, solicit feedback, and evolve based on their needs and preferences. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your community-building efforts and make adjustments as necessary.
By following these tips, you can create a vibrant and supportive community for developers. Remember, authenticity, transparency, and providing value are key to fostering meaningful connections and building a thriving developer community.
Building a community is an awareness game, where positive signals and associations with your brand can lead to vocal supporters, even among those who haven't directly used your product. It's about creating an aura around your brand that people trust and want to be associated with.