Community-Driven Product Development - Maintain And Scale The Community Relationship

  • Mark Tan

    November 17th, 2021

  • Melanie Ratchford

    November 17th, 2021

We're collaborating on a six part educational series with Mark Tan, Director of Product and Community at Wyze. We'll discuss trends and takeaways when it comes to building products in tandem with your community. Mark will cover everything he's learned about community-driven product development, so you as a product manager (or other team leader!) can get as close to your end users as possible.

This week, Mark discussed how to maintain and scale your community and relationships with members as your business grows. We've also excerpted questions from our follow-up Slack Q&A. You can find new videos posted to our Community-Driven Product Development YouTube playlist every Tuesday afternoon, and you can join our live Slack Q&As on Thursdays.

In the lesson, you discuss both synchronous and asynchronous ways you can engage with the community as it grows. How do you think of the balance between them? Do you see it skewing more towards asynchronous as you grow, or do you make sure to balance them equally?

My advice is to go back and check what your community responds to and focus your activities around the people. People respond differently to different kinds of activities. Some want to do things in social channels, others in a more private setting. The same goes for synchronous and not.

It’s always good to balance it to reach out to more people, but focus on how much interaction and feedback you are getting and use that as a basis on what format to spend more time on.

When it comes to asking for product feedback, do any survey questions come to mind that could help us gather baseline sentiment for what's working and what's not working?

(Shout out to our community member Audrey Strohm for that fantastic question! ☺️)

We tend to focus on surveys around product quality, but we do have a dedicated survey to get a sense of how happy are they with the community or the process. It’s important to ask these questions separately and see if there are gaps. Here's one we did recently:

Not showing the full questions here by design, but this is one example where you focus on what the member feels - you can do this for pre-release or outside of those programs.

You can see how the questions shift from your product to their needs. It's one way to balance things.

You discuss community engagement plans and building out content calendars. What are the first 3 things you'd suggest everyone do when starting to build out their own calendars?

Here are some:

  • What updates will be most relevant to your users? (releases, new products, ..)
  • What feedback did you get that’s worth addressing and sharing back? (survey responses, new events)
  • What community-driven events can you support to drive user-to-user interaction?

Then, check that you are delivering this in the format that will be helpful to your community.

Related, how far out do you plan your calendar, and how do you make room for adjustments as you get community feedback and/or have unexpected projects pop-up?

Quarterly is ideal, but the practical answer is monthly. We leave room for unexpected announcements and also remind ourselves that customers get communication fatigue. It's good to leave some space for a break to absorb and catch up.

We really appreciated your thoughts around making community members an extension of your team - not in the sense of making them unpaid employees, but giving those that are most engaged and helpful ways to do more of what they find exciting. You mentioned giving Slack admin access to a community member you trusted to help with moderation. Can you tell us a bit more about the discussion that led to that decision? How did you weigh the pros and cons?

First, the community member was very active in helping respond to community members. Then, we noticed that he also has a lot of background in forum and community moderation. He was giving us suggestions and tips on how to run things more smoothly. We started by giving him more access - first as a basic user, then mod, then admin.

And now that they have that access, do you have regular check-ins with them?

Yes, async. We have a dedicated channel where we talk to him all the time. It’s important to keep that connection especially since he’s not a full-time employee. He loves helping the team so we haven't had any issues with this setup.

You ended by encouraging people to amplify the work of community members and recognize opportunities for collaboration. How have you collaborated with members in the past?

We invite people to host community workshops, design and test products, celebrate with us and do happy hour! Whenever we can, we share what we are working on and see if anyone would like to help or lead any of those projects within the community. They are normally centered around product events and launches.

We too believe collaboration helps strengthen communities. So thank you Mark, for partnering together on this series.🙂

Shape the Future with Community Builders Everywhere