How do we reach community people?

This is an extremely selfish and possibly contentious post, but we are working hard to get Discourse in front of more people now that our product has matured, and I’m interested to hear your thoughts on how we can best reach community people.

Are there sites that you regularly visit, newsletters that you subscribe to, etc? What would you pay attention to?

(Note that this is not just a commercial or revenue making venture, one of our primary objectives is to increase our visibility in the free/open source space, as well as Enterprise.)

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In terms of reaching new people, I’m not sure how effective newsletters and conferences are, at least for me. I tend to consciously tune those things out because I know I’m being sold to. (If I’m already interested in the software, it’s a whole different ballgame, because I may be looking for materials about it.)

Honestly, I tend to see platform news on social and click when it looks interesting and not spammy. I would encourage you to mobilize your advocates to go talk about what you’re building, because that’s far more compelling to me than a paid promotion.

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I’m not sure if I’ve seen an ad for a community tool, I wouldn’t be against clicking if I saw one, it just has to be relevant.

Newsletter wise, not that these all offer sponsorship, but they are the regular ones I see at,: Rosieland, @evanhamilton’s one, Noele Flowers,

DevRel wise: DeveloperRelations.com, devrelweekly.com, devrelcollective.fun

Maybe sponsor some podcasts? Not just community ones, perhaps product and startup-y ones too?

There’s community podcasts listed here - Community Building Podcasts

Or maybe sponsoring Community Coach Carmen’s YouTube channel?

The most powerful thing, for me, is people talking about and recommending you.

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If I think to my own community journey:

  • Started out 13 years ago, with no idea and no mentor
  • Tried a lot of stuff, it failed
  • Sought out advice and guidance. I started that journey on search engines.
  • Ended up finding highly biased, sales led content that wasn’t helpful. Decided to ignore anything coming from a platform holder (sorry)
  • Started to look for connections. Found (sorry) influencers like Rich Millington, Rosie, Evan and a ton more
  • Started to look for community, found CMX, Community Club, Feverbee, Rosieland
  • Started to look for guidance from peers. Found strategy templates, measurement methodologies and engagement tactics
  • Became a member of communities I simply liked: Reddit, LinkedIn, The Village (hi), GiffGaff, HubSpot, Salesforce Trailhead etc
  • Started tweaking the work of others for my own purposes / challenges

TL;DR, I gravitate towards people who’ve genuinely gone before and solved a problem. Content that helps provide structure to, or breaks up, a problem I’m facing. And examples of things I’d like to achieve in the future.

But the challenge is that even a small whiff of sales will send me running. If I think I’m about to become a lead, I’ll go elsewhere.

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Please let me know if Rosieland ever makes you feel like you’re a lead. I’m actively avoiding that whilst also exploring partnerships with companies. :sweat_smile:

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No need to apologise at all! This is super helpful thanks. I should probably also clarify for anyone else reading that this isn’t necessarily about making sales or finding leads.

We give our product away for free so what we’re trying to work out is where we can educate people more about it so that they can make an informed decision without being sold to.

What was this apology for? I’m curious!

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Haha, it was for saying the word “influencer”!

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This is not a “channel” (site, newsletter, etc.), so may not be what you’re looking for. But for me I think one of the biggest missing pieces for tools like Discourse as they are seen in the market is a clear set of use-cases, general configs, or even recommended best practices, etc. that serve specific needs. You don’t have to call-out other turnkey tools like Circle, but think about the feature sets they present and which help people to choose them, think about how they communicate the end-to-end value there, and try to communicate your own platform’s value not just on your well-known strengths (open source/free, self-host, own your data, highly flexible plugin arch, API, etc.), but on what you can do with those things to equal or even improve on what other tools offer out of the box.

Put more succinctly: I think a missing piece in people seeing the value of more “build it yourself” type tools is a good overview of what not just what you can build, but how best/easiest to get to specific, common use cases (paid community being an extremely common one).

In my experience highly flexible tools often suffer from this problem, at least for certain market segments. There is a ton you can do with Discourse, and the product page does an OK job of showing some of the options, but it can still feel very overwhelming for someone who has a specific idea in mind of what they want to do, which often times maps to a common and perhaps more popular product in the “community” space, one with a big(ger) budget. Should Discourse be in consideration there as well? It depends, but for a number of use cases I would argue it should! And in those cases I do think it is at least partly a matter of “Here is a Discourse ‘lego’ kit that builds a member support community”, or “Here is a ‘duplo’ set that makes a tiered member community”, etc.

The Case Studies are a step in that direction, but not specific enough. The closest thing you have so far is how Discourse uses Discourse:

Which is great! But how about other in-depth use and setup reviews?

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I think Rows is a good example of what you talk about, their community is focused on ‘community spreadsheets’ (though they do have a forum & chat, their spreadsheets is what gets the visibility).

These are what I refer to as outcomes.

  • What are the outcomes that the community creates?
  • How can you help them make them better?
  • And what can you show off?
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