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Community Marketing - Fire & Ice - Oil & Water - Or not?

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Moderator: looking to leverage community & FOSS to develop new projects in the future.

Getting pressure to meet goals versus to build community / gather like-minded people.

Has two different communities, will need to handle them separately.

Issues within the group (first go-round the table):

Balancing metrics, marketing "infringing" on developer relations groups, what is the role of partners within a community, different levels and types of engagement. What are the marketing practices that should apply to community management?

Starting assumption: No perfect answer

Show of hands: Less than half the team reports up through marketing.

Oracle: has some pretty aggressive marketing. CM's role is to level-set and help marketers make it not look like marketing, more "cool". Find ways to change the verbiage to make it more consumable by developers.

Comment: knowing your audience matters. Experiential marketing = better practice. Create an environment where people feel the product is cool.

IDEA: Marketing isn't the problem. Bad marketing is the problem.

Question: Ads on a community site?

Advice: Try to avoid.

Comment: If you're at a company where they think marketing to developers is more about marketing than developers, then there are other companies who will do a better job. And they will do a better job over time.

Question: DO marketing groups focus group developers?

Response: Product managers do. Also, remember to balance focus groups with broader research methods. Another option is to try "private tests". Do invite-only betas work? Will people respond to them? If you're targeting early adopters, possibly.

Discussion: difference between developer communities & non-developer communities? very similar, trust and good information matters.

FOSS communities: Have a plan for a shared control strategy to work with the community. Otherwise it won't work. Ownership implies trust & engenders empowerment.

Goals: are they good or a turnoff? Appropriate goals & appropriate timeframes are perfectly OK, but the CMs job is to work with corporate to make sure the goals & timeframes are appropriate for the community. Otherwise they can backfire & push people away. As the CM you have a finger on the pulse of your community so you're the one best suited to push back if necessary.

Community is one of the many tactics a corporation can employe to achieve their goals. Community generates earned media, which can feed into a goal that senior management wants.

Issue: what do you do when you're overruled by your management on an issue? You do the best you can to be the voice of the community. It's your job to relay the concerns. Try to document your concerns in writing and protect yourself, so that if there's blowback from the community, you can show that you tried to head it off before things blew up. Honesty & transparency to the community is also critical.

Also, work with community advocates privately to see if you can get them to stick up for you to the community. "Puppet master" strategy.

Community managers are stewards of communities. We generate and foster passion not sales. When struggling, see if you can find some quick simple wins (low hanging fruit) to help bolster your argument. Demonstrate what organic goals look like.

Some companies do get it & understand that good marketing can increase growth & trajectory without being sleazy. SEO, for example. Understanding data & where traffic is coming from, then encouraging more of it.



Question: what do you do if you put a tool out there & nobody is using it?

Are you articulating the value correctly? Can you partner with the creator to better understand who the target market is? Can you bring the community into the same conversation with the engineers to help them better learn the needs?

If you find a marketer who really understand your kind of marketing (community, open source, etc) then you're gold. Hat tip to Red Hat, they breed good marketers. :)

As a community grows -- you will likely need to split the community into users versus developers, as their needs will differ over time. Initially though this may not be necessary. Listen to your community's needs to understand when it's time to split them. How big and/or technical the product will be a key determining factor for timing.

If you can make your idea into the community's idea, then you're gold.

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