Developer evangelists and developer relations managers need to show the business value their efforts are generating. One significant measure of value is developer engagement in your online community. Using the right community software, regularly tracking activity, and reading engagement metrics can give you a keen understanding of how your community is performing. These measures can also give insight into how that performance contributes to your organization’s broader product development goals.
Gauging community activity includes metrics such as the number of posts, the percentage of users contributing, and the percentage of active users. Developer engagement is a more challenging metric. It doesn’t happen quickly. To glean the most effective data, engagement needs to be monitored and measured over time.
Developers engage in a community differently, depending on their experience, what they’re looking to gain from the community, and their desire to participate. Regardless of where developers are in their comfort and motivation levels, a community offers many engagement opportunities. It’s up to you to remove stumbling blocks that will impede their participation.
For example, developers seeking help should experience easy-to-navigate forums with support questions that are answered consistently and in a timely manner. As they become more involved in a community, developers need to be recognized and rewarded for contributing, collaborating, and sharing code.
Translating Metrics Into Business Value
As mentioned, engagement metrics can help you assess the value your community brings to your organization. Consider the following examples.
- Community value: Improve your product, speed up the time to market
Engagement metrics: How many ideas were incorporated into the product? How long did it take to launch new product features resulting from community input? How many pieces of feedback were relayed to the product team? How many bug reports were submitted?
- Community value: Create quality user-generated content, develop products and apps with your API
Engagement metrics: How many up and down votes did specific pieces of content generate? How many products or apps were created or validated using your API? How much content did developers produce or directly contribute to creating?
- Community value: Knowledge sharing and professional development
Engagement metrics: How many questions were asked in your community during a specified period? What was the answer rate? Which answers were the most helpful to developers? Did an answer or answers lead to specific actions in the community that improved your product or the customer experience? How many pieces of code were shared? How many developers attended a promoted event? Spoke or participated in an event? Completed promoted training? Who are your most active developers, and is that number growing or shrinking?
Engaged developers help speed your product’s time to market. They help build affinity for your brand. They’re the best product advocates you can ask for. Keeping developers enthusiastic, involved, and engaged in your community is job number one.