I, Michie, have been building developer communities (Women Who Code Manila, SwiftPH, SwiftLadies) in my country, Philippines for a year and 3 months+ now. When you are starting a community, there are a lot of challenges -- from finding leaders/volunteers, reaching out to find people who have the same passion as me, creating events and more and we are very grateful for Facebook pages for making it easier for us to share and grow our community.
We started with two leaders and very little resources last January 2017 and as of today, we have 30+ active leaders, hosted 140+ offline events, have 1530+ members & have ~2100 followers in our fb page (https://facebook.com/wwcodemanila) reaching to tens of thousands of people in fb.
This tool was inspired by all our experiences building communities for the past year.
Some notes from our experiences:
As a leader, I want to understand the needs of our members and see their growth through the community. I just don't want to keep doing events and not seeing any progress from our members.
(Pre-event) We want to utilize fb events more effectively instead of using other tools such as meetups, splashthat, eventbrite, etc. because we use fb to spread information about our community and it would be better if everything is done already straight from fb.
(Post-event) We want to collect all the photos after the events submitted by our members and share it as one post/album using social media.
Use fb groups effectively by creating subgroups/topics and make it more searchable for our members
Keep the community engaged both offline and online thru groups/pages
Research about the Need for this Tool
I have asked different developer communities including fb dev circles and asked how they utilize fb events and most of them use Meetup or other platforms because it's more effective for them to get attendees, brand it as needed, and they feel that fb notification has a lot of noise with other notifications making them forget to attend the meetup/event.
Also, some of the big communities still decided to create a separate web app for them to manage their communities because they feel that fb lacks some of the tools they need even though fb have events, groups, page, etc.
What it does
Communities by facebook is an online tool that will enable community leaders to leverage facebook and manage their communities better. It's like Workplace by facebook for work, but this one is specifically tailored for communities. Aside from leaders being able to manage their communities, members can see their progress from the time they have joined the community until the present.
Features that we want to highlight:
- Being able to create a timeline for members to see their growth in the community
- Provide badges to excite community members to participate in offline events and online discussions
- Provide necessary tools for the leaders to build, manage and grow their community
- utilize fb events compare to other event platforms by giving it more enticing features for community leaders
- post to social media directly (fb page and groups)
- collate all photos after every event and share it to easily in facebook page and group
- be able to see potential leaders that can lead and expand the community offline and online.
How we built it
We built it with our passion of building communities + FB Login + Graph API - Events, Groups + PHP + HTML/CSS + JS + Firebase + Zend-expressive
Challenges we ran into
There were a lot of changes in the Graph API. Initially, we wanted our sign up forms to be using the group's Graph API details so we don't need members to sign up, but with the changes from April 2018, we were not able to do that. Also, in order for us to pull data to groups and events, we would need special approval to fetch events data. As suggested by our fb mentors, the best thing we can do for this hackathon is to create data for events/groups is just use a mock our data based on the documentation for now.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to tool that we believe is useful for the communities. If we can help someone succeed in building a community because of this tool, we will be very very happy.
What we learned
We realized that there are a lot of common problems communities face after talking and listening to many community leaders in the hackathon and in our country - and we can use technology to solve these problems.
What's next for Communities
- Be able to create events landing page for community leaders aligned with their brand by just creating a facebook event
- Use a messenger bot to notify attendees about the community's events
- Allow event participants to be able to check in and track their attendance in the app
- Utilize actual data from Facebook events (event details, attendees, photos, feed) after approval
- Collate all the feeds for group, page, and events and provide flexible options for presenting the feed that's sensible for the members
- Onboard more communities to test the app