The whirlwind tour of duty with Atlassian is over and I am older and wiser for the experience. As a famous writer once put it
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief” Well it certainly was an interesting experience and I learnt so many valuable things, many of which I never expected to learn.
Initially I was involved in shaping the role I was undertaking and it was great to brainstorm on how to meaningfully connect with the developer community. At a certain point though I felt it became all about the marketing and and little about what we were saying and doing, so I regrettably bowed out.
Although Adaptavist, Clearvision and other partners really helped drive a community around Atlassian in the UK, the lack of active community was a limiting factor for building a strong community around the product and platform.
Although I managed to establish three regional user groups in London, Bristol and Reading, it still remains a challenging issue for Atlassian on how to run a passionate user group around software development tools in the UK.
Part of the challenge is in the different ways that everyone uses these tools. Also there is some gap between users working with JIRA and those working with Confluence. The products are quite powerful and often aimed at different areas of the business. I something wonder if it would have been better to have seperate JIRA, Confluence and DevTools events.
I really relished the opportunity to enhance my blogging skill and now I get over 1,000 hits for some of the posts I create on my personal blog website. Blogging is a great way to get feedback from the community on ideas you have for applying technology. Blogging also encourages others to share their stories and help the development community grow.
My twitter addiction was under control before I started at Atlassian and using a great tool like HootSuite helped me not waste too much time. Twitter is an amazing tool for learning and discovering things, but its so easy to spend a whole day there and yet feel you havent achieved anything. Creating lists and scheduling posts helped me make the most out of the Twitter service.
I also learnt all about outbound marketing, search engine optimisation and other marketing techniques. All these are useful to help raise awareness about a company or service, however its just a small initial step when the goal is to really get developers to engage with you. Marketing techniques help developers find your content, but you have to say something that is meaningful to them, something that inspires and engages with them. It is quite a challenge to come up with meainingful technical content on a regular basis.
I did have a great time putting together useful content for the Getting on Git campaign we ran with Clearvision, giving developers a great insight into the benefits of Git adoption. Rather than just focus on products, we gave a wider understanding of the value of making the switch and practical ideas on how to make that change.
I believe its very important to do things at a local level to make the community highly active. While its important to give product updates to the community, its even more important to help them see how it relates to their own challenges.
One of the best ways I found to do this is to get developers practical. Running workshops, hackathons and developer events aimed at giving people the experience they need to succeed with your products is vital if you want real adoption and raving fans!
An organisation can only do so much to reach out to the community, the more it engages with that community at a local and practical level, the more active that community becomes at growing the community itself.
Again, I’d like to thank everyone at Atlassian for the experience and wish them all the luck in the world. For a developer, I still think Atlassian is one of the top 10 places to work, especially if you are based in Sydney Australia - its beautiful there!
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