Jono Bacon is a leading author, speaker, and podcaster on the topic of community management and best practices. In addition to founding Jono Bacon Consulting, which aids businesses with community strategy, developer workflows, and other topics, Jono has acted as director of community at GitHub, Canonical, XPRIZE, and consulted and advised a range of organizations. He is also the creator of the Community Leadership Core, an accelerator designed to expedite community development and maximize ROI for community teams.
Jono recently joined Weavy as our newest advisor, lending his expertise to our community team as well as aiding us in our continuing journey to create developer success. We were able to sit down with Jono to ask a few questions about his thoughts on the power of community.
Weavy: What drew you to working with Weavy?
Jono Bacon: My relationship with Weavy began when Kris [Ledel, Community Lead] reached out about joining the Community Leadership Core. After talking to Kris I got on a call with Rickard [Hansson, Founder & CEO]. Weavy is building a really tangible, practical product that developers can use and utilize in a multitude of ways.
Whether as a developer, a community lead, or a consultant, what changes have you seen in regards to the relationship between customers and businesses?
In the early days when you had a problem with a product you’d have to call the company’s 1-800 number. Maybe you talk to a person, but you will always get the runaround. Then the internet happened. You could find information on websites, and you could email the company. But the power dynamic was fundamentally companies in control, companies in power. We danced to their game.
But then companies started investing in the idea of community and setting up communities. In the early days there were forums. Now they’re using things like Discord and Slack, and we’ve reached a point where things are a lot more interactive and engaging.
When you can see the people from the company logged in, you can feel one step closer to them. I think the psychological relationship between the individual and the brand is different. That’s where the opportunity is.
I've been saying this for a while now: Community, for a long time, was a “nice to have.” Something you could do if you have the money to invest in it. Now it's necessary. It's a critical piece of how you engage.
What value does having a strong community bring for a company, a brand, or a platform?
There's a number of pieces to it. There’s that first outer layer of a community: a place where people can go ask questions and get help. But to me the real value goes much deeper than that. A great community builds an inherent layer of trust between a brand and the consumer of that brand.
When you build that inherent layer of trust, you play a role in the success of your audience. You’re solving problems, you’re helping them upskill, you’re helping them achieve their goals.
It builds unbelievable amounts of commitment to the brand. You make them feel like the company actually cares about them, as opposed to trying to sell them something.
What do you believe is foundational to building a successful developer community?
The first thing is that you’ve got to have a product that people like. If you’ve got a product that sucks you’re going to have a rough ride of it. Developers wake up in the morning with a set of challenges they’re going to be dealing with in their work.
When your community becomes an indispensable part of how they solve those challenges, how they break down issues, or how they iterate, then it has become inherently valuable to the company.