Developers can play many key roles in an organization's success. I’m sure many can argue there are more, but let’s focus on these four key roles:
Most developer relations programs focus on developers as users. They drive awareness and adoption of developer users through education and community efforts. Great developer relations programs create advocates too. And not the kind of developer advocates we bring onto our DevRel teams, but the kind I call superfans. Superfans are the kind of developers that are going to scale your business because they’re singing your praises to their peers.
Innovators & employees—are missing from 90% of developer relations programs.
DevRel programs can drive greater impact internally by partnering with technical recruiting teams to leverage the same tactics they use to drive developer user adoption to increase the recruiting pipeline. It’s a missed opportunity on both sides because there are often recruiting budgets that DevRel teams can “borrow” from to validate an event or activity that is out-of-budget or scope but valuable for trust-building and recruiting.
Innovators are where developer-plus companies can truly benefit from a Developer Relations program. Many products that don’t serve developers can find success by building a program to create innovators. What I mean by innovators is when you create a space for developers to improve or build upon your product. Let’s take Notion for example. It’s a great product but it wasn’t built for developers. Do developers use it, they sure do. Where Notion can win with a DevRel program is by enabling developers to find success in building on top or alongside Notion. They’ve already figured this out though and launched a developer offering in May of 2021. It’s still in beta, but they’ve seen the value in empowering developers to build with Notion in mind.
- They deeply understand the DevRel framework
- They leverage education over promotion
- They understand that building trust is their top priority
- They capture feedback and insights to better understand their audience and drive innovation
- They define a developer journey and reference back to it frequently
- They drive impact to the company goals & their program goals
- They’re able to define what success looks like & report on it regularly
- They advocate internally for their users, and authentically communicate company updates externally
- They build a sense of community around their peers and leverage that community to build trust and accomplish their goals
- They care deeply about the developer experience and continually improve upon it
Developer Relations programs leverage community-driven methodologies that build trust among developers. Instead of spending money on paid ads, they write blogs posts and conference presentations to educate their peers on the value of a solution or product, authentically. They show up, authentically, in the spaces where their peers spend time, providing support & education. They may even join their peers in helping them build something or dive into an open-source project they’re working on. They listen to what developers need and do everything they can to deliver it to them. Developer marketing does not exist, because developers don’t want to be marketed to, they want to feel supported by familiar faces and folks they trust.
When an organization can provide stakeholder buy-in, budget, resources, & team support of the program, they can find impact in the areas that matter most.
- Increased revenue & funding
- User growth & retention
- Product innovation & improvements
- Customer satisfaction & support deflection
- Strong technical recruiting pipeline
- Brand recognition & awareness
Developers are incredibly impactful in any organization and when you’re able to build programs that align with their needs & solve their problems, business impact follows.