Building with your community
A story on how listening to your community can create the best version of your product
The subtitle says it all: listen to your community to learn the best feature or product you can build. It is a very straightforward process. The only process unclear here is how: how does one listen to their community to get ideas from which to build?
Gigsonchukwu, a job bot built by listening to the community
As opposed to telling you what to do, I’ll share how I designed and built Gigson.co by listening to the community. I did not build it alone though, I conceptualised it and managed the cross-functional team that built it.
Sharing music is fun!
I went about my usual daily task of reading the Devcenter Square Slack community messages—who said what, how said who, and everything in between. There was a growing trend of a small number of community members who would share what songs they were listening to and this would always garner a lot of positive reactions.
I thought to myself
“This is new and cool. For a developer the music they listen to when they work is pretty important.”
This knowledge of the importance of music and the positive reactions each time a music playlist was shared made me think there could be something here that is useful. So I created a music channel, and a few folks would share a new playlist from time to time. The channel was growing, but there wasn’t a lot of engagement as only a few people joined it.
Discovering the fun that is music
“There was engagement before, so what happened?”
I asked myself. I realised I had hidden the shared music behind a channel, so I needed to open it up or make it more discoverable. I couldn’t close the Slack channel because the members who shared music found their new channel empowering. So how could I bring the shared music out of the channel?
Slackbot is king.
As all this was going on with the music channel, there was an ongoing joke with Slackbot. We had set it so Slackbot would respond with funny replies when a specific word was said. And some of the members enjoyed this. As Slackbot was being played with on a random day, I had an epiphany that the music links could be replies Slackbot shares! Slack had implemented custom responses for Slackbot, so I leveraged this and voila! Members had a word they could say to get random music recommendations. Engagement in music was back, all thanks to Slacky.
Noticing this trend and leveraging it was key because it let me have another epiphany. We had a channel where members shared gigs. These were mostly short-term projects, but occasionally someone would post long-term projects. I had been looking for a way to make finding these jobs easier for members because people were joining just for these gigs. So I needed to make sure they got the value that brought them quickly.
So on seeing people being comfortable chatting with a bot to get information, I figured, why not push gigs and jobs through the bot! This would create a multi-channel job board that could take information and display it via a Slackbot and a webpage. And so Gigson was born.
Gigson because the job channel on Slack was the #gigs channel, and it had the flair of the hardworking tribe of Nigerians called the Ibos. So the full name was Gigsonchukwu. We never used this name outside, we shortened it to Gigson. Now Devcenter.co has pivoted its full business to the Gigson job service, and that Slack group is now 18,000+ members strong and growing every week.
The moral of the story
Listening to your community involves using all your senses, including your ears. You have to listen for what is said and what is not said, for their feelings and emotions as well as their words.
How do you listen for feelings and emotions?
You use Empathy, and you build your Emotional Intelligence. These two skills will assist you in converting feelings and emotions into verbal language that you can better act on.
Listening to your community doesn’t stop there though, there are more steps to take. If you’d like to learn more on how to listen to your community for ideas, send us an email via communitystaples[at]gmail[dot]com. We can help you for free.