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Developer Engagement: 5 Ways to Build an Active Developer Community

Developer Engagement: 5 Ways to Build an Active Developer Community

Creating and maintaining an active developer community continues to be a major focus of those in the developer relations profession. A healthy community can have a major impact on tech companies and what processes, products, or solutions they implement. But creating a new community that provides value and drives engagement takes some work. 

There are five sure-fire ways to build and support an active developer community, starting with sharing great content, making the community easy to find and accessible, having fun within the community, empowering community champions and offering exclusive content. These strategies will not only create a welcoming space for developers but also lay a foundation of trust for those in the devrel profession to build off of. 

1. Share Great Content

Don’t wait until the community is already buzzing with activity to begin funneling new content into it. Autofill the community with content that is focused on your target audience’s interests. Make sure the material you spend time creating will be received as both valuable and relevant to the community members. 

Consider sharing different formats of content such as FAQs, blogs, videos, tutorials, documentation and code cheat sheets. A major benefit developers look towards their communities and forums to is compelling and engaging content, and that is why they’ll return and even bring peers. 

Another style of content to consider hosting in your developer community is user-generated content. Encourage members to promote their own content and resources to really get interpersonal conversations going. Especially since community member interest is constantly changing, monitor content performance and update, refresh, or remove content as necessary. 

2. Make the Community Easy to Find

Don’t make your community difficult for developers to find or access, because odds are they’ll find another. Instead, announce the launch through a social media or email marketing campaign. From there, continuously promote the community on your corporate website, social media, marketing collateral and even integrate it in your customer portal. All of these tactics optimize its online presence. 

Make sure the platform you decide to use as the host platform for your community is one that developers already use, probably have accounts with, or are fans of. Sample platforms can be Reddit, Slack or Discord. This way, it’s convenient for developers to join. 

There is also the use of SEO strategies, such as including keywords, to increase the community’s discoverability online. If a developer is searching for a community using specific keywords of yours, it should trigger your community as a leading result. 

Promotion of your community doesn’t stop just after the deployment of the community itself. Advertising should be an ongoing focus to continue pulling in engaging users. Another strategy is to collaborate with other leading industry platforms and forums. This way, information about your community is reaching farther than your individual corporation’s immediate bandwidth. 

3. Have a Little Fun

To create a community and environment that feels welcoming to developers means you can have a little fun with content and engagement. Organize contests or hackathons, give community shout outs or rewards, and gamify the engagement experience. Developers appreciate and enjoy opportunities to network. Hosting meetups, either virtual or in-person, are great ways to give community members something to look forward to and engage with. 

For example, host a contest such as “Question of the Week”. Reward the community members who have the most valuable contributions. Give them a public community shout out or reward them with a branded t-shirt. This’ll entice users who wouldn’t normally participate in communities to share their unique perspective and knowledge. 

4. Empower Community Champions

To empower your community champions, first identify and recognize key contributors. This includes those who regularly interact with your content, or who might share their own resources and contribute to ongoing forums and conversations. Once you’ve identified these key players, provide them with a leadership opportunity in the online community. 

Community champions will represent your organization and help with influence marketing. Because of this, be sure to determine their credibility through what kind of engagements they have on their posts, search out their open source contributions, and if they’re still actively developing and doing influencer marketing on the side. Doing all of this will help insure relatability, trust, transparency and personal connection between general community members and your champion. 

For example, invite the top contributors to join a community champion program. The program rewards subject matter experts with badges, points, or small prizes. These can be t-shirts, mugs, or stickers. From there, you can host a ‘Champion of the Year’ contest annually to inspire members to take engagement up a notch.

To ensure the longevity of a developer online community, prioritize fostering a sense of ownership and belonging. That’s the core purpose of these online spaces anyways, to provider developers with a community of similarly skilled, like minded individuals. 

5. Share Exclusive Content

Our final strategy to build an active developer community is to share exclusive content that members can only find when joining, and maintaining a membership with, your online community. Offer premium resources and content to community members which will drive continuous engagement since they’re receiving something they can’t find anywhere else.

Offer advanced notice or RSVPing on upcoming events, such as training sessions or webinars. This way, they get an opportunity to sign up for enticing events before the public. Also consider giving early access to your beta features or products. Ask them to share ideas or feedback on these new products or features, they’ll appreciate being a part of an exclusive experience like that. 

Bottom Line: Building an Active Developer Community 

The only way to reap the benefits of creating and hosting an online developer community is to promote and drive engagement within its members. The top strategies to promote and maintain an active community is to constantly funnel relevant content, make the community accessible, have fun within the community, empower champions, and share content members can’t find anywhere else. These five tactics together will foster a healthy community that organizations, and those in the developer relations profession, can capitalize on.

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