Fred Wilson had a post up today, in which commented on an earlier post by Joel Spolsky on Modern Community Building. Building an large and engaged community is extremely important for MongoDB (and somewhat different from building a community-oriented web service like StackExchange), so I thought I’d add some perspectives from what I have seen at 10gen:
- Offline is important: While the primary mode of interaction may be online, offline activities are really important. Going from informal to formal, we have office hours, meetups, and conferences. It’s an invaluable way of both getting in front of your community of users, and helping foster interactions between them.
- Community engagement isn’t the job of ‘marketing’: It’s really the job of everyone in the company. Companies who are truly believe in building communities understand that and are willing to invest resources in having their most valuable resources (i.e. people) actively engaged with the community. One of our main ways we work with MongoDB users is through our google groups mailing list, and its a source of pride to be close to the top of the list each month for most questions answered.
- There isn’t a single channel for a community: We use google groups, twitter, our blogs, Facebook, IRC, our bug and roadmap database (!) and maybe a few others that I’ve missed to let MongoDB users connect with us and each other. People want to engage with you and each other in different ways, so give them the opportunity to do so.
- Community first, then traditional marketing: Traditional marketing activities are much more effective when you have a strong community. I don’t have any empirical evidence to back this up, but a strong community helps amplify traditional PR, etc. If you have to chose, spend your dollars and manpower in building your community, before any other marketing activities - it will be well worth it.
If you are interested in some of this stuff, and will be at OSCON this year, you should go check out Meghan Gill’s talk, “Lessons Learned Seeding a Webscale Open Source Community”. Meghan will be talking about her experiences heading up community development and marketing for 10gen, and everyone here has learned a lot a lot from watching her in action!
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