Startup Weekends are a powerful way to turn tech dreams into reality over the course of just a few days. This one was particularly important to my colleagues and me, however.
About 13 percent of undergraduates who earn degrees in computer science, computer engineering or information studies are black or Latino, according to 2015 data from the Computing Research Association. (4) But at tech companies in and around the Bay Area, they remain a small minority.
To change these numbers, we need to teach our future and current entrepreneurs and marketers to be conscious and empathetic community builders.
Here is where the beauty of the marketing industry lies; marketers and community builders can create life-changing experiences by applying the right tactics.
If you are short on time, here’s what you need to know:
- Tactics you used to build a community may not work all the time. You have to iterate over your processes and tactics continually.
- The secret to successfully launching anything is to be real, excited about your product and do it humanly.
- A vibrant community needs to have activity and engagement. Don’t make it feel like a ghost town. It’s important to recognize there are different types of people using your product, each with their motivations. It must scale as well.
Iterate and try new tactics. Strategies you are currently using probably won’t work in few years.
Community building is, in a large way, the root of many companies’ success including startup Product Hunt acquired by AngelList. From its early days, Product Hunt’s creator, Ryan Hoover, has done a fantastic job of bringing the right people onto his platform and deeply engaging them through every step of the building process. (6)
During the first part of your process, break down your most active users. There are countless ways to reward your first users, so think carefully about what your initial users’ motivations are and how you can reward them with extrinsic or, preferably, intrinsic rewards.
This obviously is rather arbitrary and meaningless at first, since there aren’t that many users. Don’t ask users to spam their friends. “Encourage authentic and positive communication. While some online communities may be popular in the short term thanks to snarky commenting, Weingarten says a community built around people interacting with strangers should be focused on authenticity and positivity. (7)
The secret to successfully launching anything is to be real, excited about your product and do it humanly.
Marketing is not only about making things look appealing, it’s about creating a relationship with the audience. The beauty of a community is that it provides your customers a chance to network with their peers, so provide them with opportunities to do so. Create an open forum for questions and encourage interactions amongst your community members. PROVIDE VALUE. By creating a culture of collaboration within your community, your customers can build their personal brands and establish a strong foundation of peers that they can lean on when they need help. However, this network shouldn’t only exist to troubleshoot, it is just as effective in sharing success stories and best practices. (8)
A vibrant community needs to have activity and engagement and it must scale itself at some point.
You can’t grow your user base exponentially by doing things that don’t scale, but you can certainly build deep connections with those first people, connections that will endure and spread through each of those people’s communities. From that point forward, it’s about building a better product, asking your current users to share, and giving them a piece of the pie and allowing them to take on leadership roles that benefit them. And you can do all of this without spending anything at all on marketing. That’s the power of community – you’ll go further, you’ll spend less, and you’ll make the world a better place for your users. (10)
1.San Francisco Chronicle, Marissa Lang: First of its kind startup weekend seeks to promote Latinos in tech – San Francisco Chronicle
2. Medium KCSI, Lili Gangas: Bringing a focus to the Latinx tech community
3,4,5. Computing Research Association, Stuart Zweben & Betsy Bizot: Continued Booming Undergraduate CS Enrollment; Doctoral Degree Production Dips Slightly
7. Inc., Christina DesMarais: How to Build a Highly Engaged User Community: 9 Tips
8,9. Marketo, Liz (Courter) Oseguera: 4 Areas of Importance to Focus on When Creating a Customer Community