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Alex Shevelenko
Content thumbnail Guide to Breaking into the Enterprise Market

Challenges in building strong user communities The main challenge companies face in building communities is striking the right balance in terms of deifning the community’s mission without limiting it too much. You want to guide the community towards the activities and topics that will be most useful to your product development and marketing, without making the community feel inauthentic or overly ‘sales-y.’ Take Docker, an open-source platform for developing, shipping and running applications. Docker enabled engineers to separate applications from infrastructure so they can deliver sotfware more rapidly. At one time, Docker was super-popular—but the platform tied its open-source community too strongly to its monetization plan, and put up too many walls for users. Ultimately, Google open-sourced an alternative solution called Kubernetes that has gained signiifcant mindshare. Early-stage companies should also be aware that if a community really takes off, it can raise expectations, especially if there’s money involved. The crowd-sourced video game Star Citizen, for example, raised $2 million in a 2012 Kickstarter campaign and then went truly viral. In some ways, that’s the dream scenario: a community of supporters who all become evangelists, doing tons of free marketing. But Star Citizen ended up raising way more money than it ever intended to raise—$350 million to date, ranking among the top crowdfunded projects of all time. Yet its production cycle is endlessly delayed into the future. It might now be impossible for the ifnal product to live up to the expectations created by that viral spread. A third challenge we’ve seen is focus. If the product, and hence the community, isn’t organized around a clear focus, the product team can become distracted by features or use cases that don’t generate revenue. Best practices for community building Your goal should be to deifne what the community wants to achieve, but not how they’ll achieve it. In other words, the community is united around a shared problem—like making engineering more efficient—instead of focusing only on the shared solution that is your product. For example, Salesforce has created a community called Trailhead, where users can learn sales skills and build towards new careers. Users are pursuing their own goals, (continued on next page) 18

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