Why should we – as the openHAB community – be present at events?

Stephan Luckow posted on Thursday, June 6, 2019

My call to action for our community: Keep in mind (at every occasion) that we have marketing goals. Let's turn interested people into amateurs and turn amateurs into community members. Let's grow the community!

Why should we – as the openHAB community – be present at events?

Marketing says:

  • Know your target group.
  • Define your calls to action.
  • Have a concept for your booth.

But what is the target group of an open source project? We don‘t sell anything. Everyone is able to download our software for free. Why should I invest my life time in attending an event?

In my opinion we have to answer the marketing questions the same way a company does.

And hey: it‘s easy. Most users don't give back (yet). And our major interest should be to grow the community.

Target group 1: IoT beginners

Topic: Don‘t re-invent the wheel. It‘s here. If you need a home automation software – get ours. You can download it for free, if you're able to develop code, add your special needs to the software. Call to action: Join our community. We are fine with that and give you a warm welcome in our communication channels. Plan for the booth: some swag (stickers, buttons, flyers), a URL, a big call to action on marketing material „We want you!

Target group 2: the invisible openHAB users

Topic: We show the world our strong and vibrant community. We attend an event where you are. We show our face to the public. You can be part of that. Call to action: Show yourself as a part of our community. It‘s easy. Next time, you can join us on our/your community booth. Show your face in our community channels (e. g. the forum). Tell people you are a user of openHAB. Tell them you love it. Be part of it. Plan for the booth: some swag (stickers, buttons, flyers), a URL, a big call to action on marketing material „Think "we" instead of "me" and "them"

Target group 3: the closed source companies

Topic: We show the world our strong and vibrant community. We show them the power of open source. What we did. What we want to do. Who we are. How open source works. Call to action: Help us to save life time. Open your APIs. Invest in our community. Be part of open source. Develop bindings yourself. You get valuable feedback and insights by being a contributor. Plan for the booth: some swag (stickers, buttons, flyers), a URL, a big call to action on marketing material „open source is not evil. We can show you the light at the tunnel's end.“

More target groups could be: press and other home automation platforms.

Let me tell you a story about my last two events attending as part of the openHAB community.

Bosch Hackathon #BCX19

Patrick was the lead of the openHAB booth at Bosch Hackathon. He did a terrific job. We had a booth, some swag, a roll up, our own laptops and more than 700 attendees for the Bosch Hackathon. We defined our goal as: help the Hackathon teams if they need a proper software solution for home automation [target group 1].

Spoiler: The winning team doesn‘t use openHAB. But: hey. that‘s life 😃

My personal highlight was a conversation with some nice guys from the influxDB community. Personally I use openHABian for the convenient roll-out of fresh installs, clicking „InfluxDB & Grafana“ in the openhabian-config. That's how I came to ask the guys from InfluxDB if they know that our community uses their software. They had no idea. Hah.

I handed a console to David (a developer from the InfluxDB community) and asked him nicely if he would review our implementation and configuration of InfluxDB. 5 minutes later there was a warm applause because we – the openHAB-Community – did everything right. In short: InfluxDB inspected our implementation and gave us the confidence of using InfluxDB the right way. Check. Thanks David for investing your time!

At the next opportunity I am determined to talk to community members of the other open source software that we use (e. g. Grafana, Node-RED …) And I found a label for that special kind of communication: cross-community communication. We – as open source communities – should feel a strong urge to share our experience and help each other.

A second highlight of the Hackathon event was a 20 minute talk to a Bosch guy. He introduced himself as the biggest fan of our project. I‘ve never heard from him. He told me that he has no time to be part of our community. But he really likes the strong and sharing spirit of our community. Later on he gave me his business card and told me if we ever need help to address the right people in the Bosch universe he wants to help me finding the right person. Check! [target groups 2 and 3]

Another vibrant event immediately followed the really cool Bosch Hackathon - I attended the

Maker Faire Berlin.

Attendees: The do-it-yourself (DYI) community. Starting on Friday with a day exclusively for school children. That is one of our target groups. The young talents. We need them [target group 1] because many of us are "really old" and as a sustainable open source software community we have to hand the project over to the younger ones. You can imagine the fun with young people if you show them the smart home. They spontaneously understand the dependencies.

Saturday and Sunday were open for general public. I’ve never met so many happy people, giving a warm applause and a big thank you to me (as the representative of the openHAB community) for our software project. Most of them were never active in our forum. I invited them to switch their habits and be part of our wonderful community. „Say 'we' instead of 'you' please!“ [target group 2]

On Sunday I gave a session in the venue cinema with the topic “What is the 'smart' in smart home?”. [all target groups]

After 7 days in a row of supporting our fantastic project openHAB, I felt a bit like never ever talking about home automation again 😃 One week later I attend the Smart Home Day in Darmstadt ... But that is another story.

My call to action for our community: Keep in mind (at every occasion) that we have marketing goals. Let's turn interested people into amateurs and turn amateurs into community members. Let's grow the community!

I want to thank the people who helped making these events happen. Take a look at their faces on twitter.