This article has been built from a Q+A discussion with two incredible product marketing experts:

  • Steve Francia, who was the Product and Strategy Lead for Go Language at the time
  • Jeana Jorgensen, Senior Director of Cloud Product Marketing and Sustainability at Google

In this article, they'll be focusing on:

Why it’s important to invest in your community

Q: Jeana, you recently launched the Google Cloud Community and in your release, you spoke about investing in the community. Why was investing in it so important for Google Cloud?

Jeana Jorgensen: There are a few reasons. The community is what makes the services interesting, right? There’s a huge amount of innovation that comes from our developer community, customers, and partners.

Investing in our consumers gives us an opportunity to learn from them, see what they're developing, understand how we can make our services better, and just get a closer insight into what's happening out in the world.

The real goal for us investing in StackOverflow in particular was to get closer to that community and be able to have deeper discussions.

You can ask and answer questions today on StackOverflow, but Google Cloud Collective gave us a closer bond because it’s made up of people who've opted into the community and want to have a deeper dialogue and learn. I think for any community, it's important to invest in it if you want it to thrive.

Q: Steve, you’ve worked at some very well-known organizations like Docker, MongoDB, and Drupal. What have you learned about the importance of investing in the community?

Steve Francia: I've learned that it is everything. If you don't have a strong, vibrant, and welcoming community, your technology can last for a while, but it's not going to thrive and it's not going to grow.

If you're looking to grow, make an impact, and change the world, which was our goal at every one of those orgs, community is the only way to do it.

It's really a symbiotic relationship between technology and the community. Technology depends on it to survive, grow, and develop, and the community depends on technology to accomplish its goals. It's impossible to do without both sides equally invested.

Teresa Garanhel, Senior Copywriter at our sister community Developer Marketing Alliance, outlines the exact reasons behind why develop communities matter. 👇

Why developer communities matter
Today, we’re focusing on developer communities. They’re channels or platforms that allow devs to engage in discussions with one another, as well as in conversations with experts. It provides a place for them to thrive and grow as well.

Learning from your developer community

Q: You both mentioned learning from the community and the community learning from each other. Have you found anything else besides community that would allow you to learn from your developers on a grand scale, or is it the only way to do that?

Jeana Jorgensen: I think 'community' is a really interesting word because some people associate it with a product or a location. It's very fluid. Community is all of those things, right? It's wherever people go to congregate, learn from one another, and find people to discuss interesting and mutually relevant topics with.

Everything we do is community driven because we think of our users as the center of the universe. Whether they’re seeking one-to-one feedback or feedback from a broad public forum, the community is generating and gathering new information to share.

Sometimes they’re sharing their frustrations, sometimes it's things that they're excited about – it's all of the things that you get in everyday life in personal or work-related communities.

For me, the community is a very broad thing that encompasses learning, certifications, different forums like Stack Overflow and GitHub, and much more. It's not one particular monolithic thing.

Steve Francia: I was gonna say something very similar. We use the word community to mean a group of people.

I'll speak about the community around Go specifically – that's where I am now. Everyone thinks they're part of the Go community, but everyone's version of that community is different.

For some people, it's the StackOverflow NGO community; for others, it's the Reddit Go community; for some, it's their local meetup community; for some, it's a project post on GitHub that they’re active in, or maybe a combination of several of those things.

Everyone has their own version of what it is from their own perspective, which is great. That's what community is. It isn't this one thing that's the same for everyone. It's a very unique thing.

Now, you asked about learning. Since the community is a group of people working with technology, there's no other place to learn. The place to learn from other users is in our community.

Building your community vs promoting your community

Q: Let's talk specifics and see where we have commonalities or differences between a commercial product like Google Cloud and an open-source product such as Go when it comes to their communities.

Which comes first: promoting the community or seeding and building the community, and why?

Steve Francia: We built Go 13-ish years ago and we made a conscious choice to open-source it because if languages aren’t growing in adoption, they just don't survive. The best way to grow adoption is to open-source it, make it publicly available, and let people have access to it.

We built an early version of Go behind closed doors just to know that we had something worth sharing, and then we immediately started growing the community. That was our first goal – to grow a community, then get a group around us to build the libraries because a language is not just the language; it's a whole ecosystem with many libraries, users, and tooling.

Once we had a little thing to build a community around, the community was our first priority. That's true about Go as a language, and it was true for the other projects that I've been involved with as well.

Jeana Jorgensen: On the Google Cloud front, we've seen the community surface as we’ve started releasing the services. Daily, weekly, and monthly, the community just grew.

In terms of promoting the community versus seeding and building the community, we always want to help build a community and whatever it is that they need, but it’s sort of a chicken and egg question because part of that comes from promoting the people who are doing amazing work within the community and sharing their gifts, talents, and expertise with others. You kind of need to do those things in tandem.