Dev Community: In Conversation With SAWO’s Anuj Sharma

During our weekly Saturday ritual event, we had a little chat with Anuj Sharma. He is the community manager at SAWO Labs, building a dev community of over 4.5k developers. Before this, he used to work at IncubateIND. He has also worked with independent communities and has been a part of communities for 3 years now.

In this exclusive conversation with Anuj, we got to know:

  • What Pulled Him Towards Dev Community Building?
  • Is It Important For A Brand To Run Its Own Community?
  • How Does He Measure The Value Of His Dev Community At SAWO?

And much more!

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What Pulled Him Towards Dev Community Building?

It’s a pretty interesting story! He started his journey with Pie & AI Jaipur. It was an independent community for the people who were interested in python and for the technologies around Python, like Django, data science, etc. One of his seniors invited him to that.

He joined the dev community from the perspective that he will learn and upskill himself in the tech
stack that he’s interested in. It will pave his way for future opportunities. He wasn’t expecting to
change his domain from tech to non-tech. It was a rollercoaster ride. A few months later, he
started helping out other members of the dev community.

Providing engagement and guiding other people, he was invited to one of the meet-ups as a co-speaker. And there, he felt something special. He was guiding 200 people, the basics of Python, and how to get started. And he was himself a student at that time.

So, that triggered him to be a part of multiple communities and he started from there. And soon, he became the core team member. Then, he became the chapter lead. And then, the journey went on!

After that, he started being active in the best developer communities. He met other community builders from a college perspective and then through a brand. He worked with a few AWS builders, BGD organizers, and DSE organizers.

So, that’s how his journey started. He wasn’t even aware that he was a community developer. He realized that he is a community developer and not a tech person when the 3rd year of his college was coming to an end. And that’s when he made his decision. Nonetheless, it was a cool journey.

What Challenges Did He Face While Initially Building Brand Specific Communities?

The change from B. Tech. to community developer was very vast for him. When he joined IncubateIND, he only had the experience of independent communities. IncubateIND was not a brand-specific community. They did not have any specific product that they wanted the community members to use. It was more like a service-centric community.

They used to have hackathons, tech camps, boot camps, and other initiatives. So, he didn’t find much difference between independent communities and service-centric communities.

But when Anuj joined SAWO, there were many aspects that he had to improve as a community developer. And one of them was his thinking and vision. Because when he was a part of the
independent communities, their major goal was to have engagement, irrespective of the quality. The service-centric communities are focused only on numbers.

Although at SAWO, they are providing a lot more to the dev community. They are giving out resume reviews, doing giveaways, multiple sessions, and panel discussions for the members to understand how everything works out in the corporate world.

But every initiative is centered around SAWO sgk, SAWO feedback, etc. So, there’s a very big
difference in that. It’s something people understand only when they start working with a brand.

Without experience, you can’t understand the difference. So, it has been a bit hectic for him at the start. But he’s coping up and now, he’s getting good at his job. He’s still improving and learning something new every day – it’s a work in progress!

Also Check-Out:

How Does He Measure The Value Of His Dev Community At SAWO?

There are many aspects for that –

  • If you ask him personally, apart from what he does in the dev community, he has personal milestones. For instance, have this many people join till a certain date, having this many tags on social media, having engagement on social media, have new members interact with the old members, at least guide a few students in their journey of the dev community, etc.
  • So, if he talks statistically, they have their community metrics – a community KPI which they maintain. They check it every month, and also on a weekly basis. So, there are multiple documentations to keep a track of monthly improvement. And there are 2 more separate documents in detail for weekly tracks. For example,the engagement rate, the weekly retentions, etc.
  • How many people are sharing their experiences on social media? Let’s say, if they have an initiative where 200 people are joining and there’s another exclusive event where only 20 members are joining, they will give their 100% in both.

They want to make sure that the impact goes on, irrespective of the quantity. They focus more on quality. So these are the certain metrics that everyone can prepare for their community. This is how they are keeping a tab.

Since He Has Run Both Dependent And Independent Communities, What Needs To Be Done Differently In Either Of Those?

If you are just getting started with both the communities simultaneously, here are Anuj’s two cents. If you are a part of the independent community, you need to have more content to attract people to join your community. Because there isn’t any specific brand to guide you, there isn’t any specific brand to be the back support. The leader should be capable enough to deliver content, create
engagement, etc.

And when you are a part of a dependent community, like SAWO, he has SAWO to back him up with his initiatives. For example, the monetary fundings which he needs, the giveaways that he is organizing, etc. So there the leader needs to have a certain level of benchmark. If he is doing a panel discussion, there needs to be these people as speakers to make an impact on the community.

So, the thinking, the mindset, and the research help a lot while working with independent as well as dependent communities. The base is filling out what to do when you have the support. You need to give your time where you can get the maximum Return On Investment.

If you only focus on the content in the independent community, it won’t work out. In an independent community, there is a need to have a few partners, community partners, brand partners, to support various initiatives.

Independent community needs a PR team, everything else to manage the whole event. But if you’re a part of a brand-centric community, the community team can manage with the help of other teams which you have in the organization itself.

Also, Check-Out:

How Important Is It For A Brand To Run Its Own Community?

Having a community supported by a brand is important because the Return On Investment that the brand will receive is on another level. Just imagine, I have my brand but I don’t have a
community. Let’s say I launch a product. Then, I need to wait for the users to use it and then give
me feedback. And then, the tech team will work on it.

I need to have a separate marketing team, work with different marketing agencies to get my
product across to people and developers in the country. But, when I have my community, I
can nurture that community to support me in the feedback cycle, promotion, etc.

Because having a marketing agency do promotion is one thing but a mouth-to-mouth promotion from developers across India is on another level. If you see a marketing ad agency, I’m sure you’ll skip it. But if I tell you that “Hey, use this product, it’s really good.” you might use it.

So we have our marketing, we have our testers. We nurture them, we invest in them, and we also take care of them. So when you’re focusing on quality, the quantity increases itself.

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