When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m in Developer Advocacy/Relations space. Most people look at me confused and say: what? Even folks who are in a software space usually don’t know what this role is.
Last January I set a goal for myself to publish a blog post every week that offer some value, even if small (I actually started in February 2019). I couldn’t miss even a single week, no excuses. I had to publish something. Now, not every blog post was a long-form, in fact most blog posts were short and cover something very small/specific. Nevertheless, the goal was not to miss a single week. For me it was important to get into the habit and stay consistent and once the habit was established it became easier to come up with content ideas and write every week. If this also works for you — that’s great. You should come up with your own approach to keep going.
If you think it will be hard to come up new ideas every week that go beyond the standard tutorial, article or how-to, I shared a blog post on interesting content ideas you can try. The blog post covers the following ideas:
Notes or summary from a conference, meetup
Event in 10 pictures
Links to series of articles
Links to previous month video recordings
Since I published that blog post, here are some additional ideas to help you.
Measuring success in Developer Relations is always one of the most interesting questions or challenges. Every organization does it differently – from measuring how many stickers were handed out, how many Twitter followers one has, to how many people attended a conference talk, to how many API calls were made. There are many more things you can measure. Every approach has its pros and cons and every organization will use an approach that helps reach their business goal(s).
I think it’s easy to focus on features but that’s not what Developer Advocacy is about (at least in most cases).
Developer Advocacy is about showing what developers can do with your product/service, what problems developers can solve and what solutions developers can build. I covered this topic earlier in this blog post: Share outcomes and results, not features.
Our job is to help, show and educate what rad things developers can build.
Developer Advocacy is how to make developers awesome 🙌
When I shared this blog post with Burr, he told me he uses another phrase:
Our job is to give developers super powers
So here you go, two really great phrases to describe Developer Advocacy from Burr Sutter:
Our job is to make developers awesome
Our job is to give developers super powers
It’s not true that developers don’t want to be marketed to, they are simply very very educated “consumers”.
Here is an example of buying an espresso machine (such as Nespresso)
People will spend a disproportional amount of time learning about the machine and how it works. When they go to the store to buy it, if the sales person knows less than the buyer the buyer will be frustrated. We don’t like when we go to buy something and we know more about the product than the person selling it to us.
There are many great books on marketing out there. A great book I recently read is This is Marketing by Seth Godin. Here is how the book defines marketing:
Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.
and this one:
Marketers offer solutions, opportunities for humans to solve their problems and move forward.
There is nothing inherently bad about marketing to developers. Companies simply need to be helping solve developer’s problems. If we do this, then we won’t need to say that developers hate marketing (hopefully).
I think here is one good example of that (there are thousands more of course):
Webflow is a No Code platform to build websites. Above is their home page. Webflow is not telling people that they have a visual HTML editor – that’s a feature. They are telling people what problems they can solve, what is the outcome – build a better website, faster, without coding.
Whether you call it developer marketing or something else – let’s help developers solve their problems, show them solutions, outcomes and share knowledge 🙌
There are thousands of books on how to be a manager and I’m sure many of them are very good. I just finished reading The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhou. I loved the book and highly recommend to new managers, not so new managers and people who might want to be managers one day.
Many management books out there give you a lot of theoretical advice on how to be a manager or just advice that’s not applicable to real world. What I loved about Julie’s book is that it’s full of very practical advice and tips. You can take it and use today. I liked that Julie wasn’t afraid to share that she was scared many times, that she wasn’t sure if she made the right decision and that’s it’s OK (and actually beneficial as that’s how we grow) to make mistakes because we are all humans. Reading the book I said many times “oh yes, that’s how I felt” and “oh, and I was in exact the same situation”. This kind of connection makes this an excellent book that I highly encourage to read. Seeing how the Julie dealt with various challenges and grew to be VP of Design at Facebook, is a great learning experience.
The model says that to influence someone to do something, you have just two levers:
Motivation – how much someone wants to do something
Ability – how easy it is to do the thing
The third component
Prompts – is a call to action, trigger or cue for a behavior to happen
So, could this model be applied to developers? Let’s look at each component and see how it can be applied to Developer Relations.
So what can motivate developers? Here is a list of motivations:
Solving a (challenging) problem (at work or a personal project)
Giving back to community. For example, contributing to an open source project
Career growth, personal growth, learning
Ability is how easy it is to do something. I think ability has a strong connection to Developer Relations. We (Developer Advocates) always strive to make things easier for developers. A big part of this is making our documentation, tutorials, videos, guides and everything else easy to follow and complete.
In June at DevRelCon in San Francisco, Steve Pousty gave an excellent talk called The Kick Ass Curve for developer relations. I recommend you watch the talk, one of the themes from Steve’s talk was that we need to make things easier for developers so they can become successful, and fast.
A prompt is a call to action, trigger or cue for a behavior to happen. In the context of Developer Relations, a call to action can be a hands-on workshop that a developer can attend, or an online event. It could also be a friend recommending the technology. It can also be an interesting and easy to follow step by step tutorial that you saw in an email newsletter, an interesting blog post, article or an interesting tweet. All these prompts can lead to: “hey, I want to try this”.
Looking at the Fogg Behavior Model, we want to stay above the green Action line. Staying above the line means a developer is motivated, and it is easy for her to complete something and the prompted has worked. I believe most developers are very motivated. Where we can make a bigger difference is in the Ability. To make developers successful, we need to strive to make things easier such as produce high quality documentation.
There are probably other ways to apply this to Developer Relations (or I might be complete off, hey, who knows). Would love to know what you think, please leave any feedback in comments.
If you want to learn more about the Fogg Behavior Model, you can pre-order BJ’s forthcoming book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything. For the first time ever, BJ explains the Behavior Model in depth for a global audience. tinyhabits.com/book.
There are plenty of web sites where you can publish content. But, what’s the best place? Well, I’m not a fan of “best” anything. Your “best” is up to you, what works for you, based on your requirements and will be different for everyone. In this blog post I will share my recommendations where to publish content and you can use them to decide (or not) where to publish.
I wanted to publish this article for some time and also because of recent controversy with Medium. You can read about it here and here.
There are many web sites where you can publish content. This is just a short list of web sites:
If some you will think that I have been living under a rock 🧗♂️ – that’s fair 🤷🏽♂️. In the past year I got totally hooked on podcasts. I know, I know – the first podcasts started appearing as early as 2003 and exploded in popularity around 2010.
I guess it’s better late than never.
I was always a semi-news junkie, listening mostly to news in the car (and reading news a lot). The news on the radio is usually repeated over and over again so it can get boring rather fast. But the world of podcasts has opened a completely new world to me. The sheer number and the quality of podcasts is simply amazing. With so many amazing and educational podcasts, it’s like having a private radio station where you build and customize the playlist and can listen anywhere and anytime. Podcasts provide superb education, entertainment and are free.