How to measure Developer Relations – DevRel meetup recap

This week I attend the first DevRel San Francisco meetup in 2020: How to Measure Developer Relations with Amir Shevat. This blog post is a short recap, notes and pictures from the event.

The topic of the event was how to measure success in Developer Relations. Amir is a great speaker and used examples from his experience running Developer Relations at Google, Slack, and Twitch.

Speaker picture
Amir Shevat
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Why developers have influence today?

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.

To help better understand what we do I tell them that we work with developers where our mission is to provide developer education, help developers be successful, help developers solve their problems, and make developers super heroes. Most folks wonder why we have to do that. I tell them that developers today have a lot of influence and some are even making purchasing decisions.

Evans Data Developer Relations Conference: Over 95% of developers have some role in purchasing
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A year of blogging every week

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.

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What we accomplished in 2019

IBM Developer NA West team had a great 2019, the team accomplished a lot. A big thank you to the team 💙. I want to share some of the highlights of what the team did in 2019. You can also check out the cool infographic below.

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How many developers did we help?

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 listened to a great Under the hood of Developer Marketing podcast with Jesse Davis:

where Jesse shared that a metric we should care about is how to help the developer next.

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Make developers awesome

Last September I was in a meeting with Burr Sutter. Burr runs Global Developer Advocacy at Red Hat. We were talking about Developer Advocacy and I remember Burr saying something along these lines:

Our job is to make developers awesome

I right away thought about this image:

mario-features
Source: https://www.useronboard.com/features-vs-benefits/

I think the first time I saw this image was at Share Knowledge Not Features. The original graphic is from Features vs. Features.

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 🙌

Update

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

Scaling Developer Relations with an online conference for developers

Scaling your Developer Relations program is a challenge faced by virtually all organizations. It doesn’t matter if you are a startup with 10 people or IBM – you still need to scale your efforts.

IBM probably has one of the biggest Developer Relations organizations in the world. Even with such size, Developer Advocates cannot be everywhere to host in-person workshops, meetups and attend conferences. You cannot scale with people.

Even if you could send a Developer Advocate to every meetup or conference, there are many more developers who don’t attend meetups or conferences. There are many reasons, maybe they leave in an area where there are no meetups or they don’t have conference travel budget. You need to reach these developers and also scale.

The way to scale a program is through content, online meetups (webinars), videos and online forums. I shared how to scale with online meetups and content before:

All these resources are available to anyone with an internet connection regardless of location and can be consumed any time of the day or night. In addition, all these digital resources can provide value for a long time, months or even years.

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Developers don’t hate marketing

A few weeks ago I attended Evans Data Developer Marketing Summit. During a panel one person said:

“Developers hate marketing”

I don’t agree with that.

I think developers don’t like bad marketing.

People in general don’t like bad marketing so I don’t think developers are any special here.

When someone says “developers hate marketing”, I always associate this with an old car salesperson:

old-car-salesmen
Source: https://carsalesprofessional.com/why-are-car-salesmen-so-annoying/

No one would disagree that this is bad marketing (or sales), most of us probably experienced that. These folks usually use shady tactics and push features, not solutions.

Most will agree that (most) organizations today don’t do this.

At Evans Data Developer Relations Conference in March 2019, Willie Tejada, IBM Chief Developer Advocate said this:

On marketing to developers:

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).

Our goal should always be to share outcomes and results, not features. My all time favorite resource is Adam DuVander’s Share Knowledge, Not Features.

I think here is one good example of that (there are thousands more of course):

webflow-devmarketing1
Source: http://webflow.com

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 🙌

Future Developer Summit in 10 pictures

On September 24-25 I attended the Future Developer Summit in Menlo Park, CA. It’s an event where about 60+ leaders discuss the future of developer marketing and developer relations. Here are pictures from the event. I created collages so you will see more than 10 pictures 😉

futuredevsummit-willie
Willie Tejada from IBM shared that top-bottom approach is being replaced with bottom-up approach where management grants permission and developers make decisions

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Developer Marketing Summit in 10 pictures

This week I attended Data Evans Developer Marketing Summit. I was there for just half a day but still attended very interesting sessions and snapped some pictures that I want to share. I will share notes from the summit probably next week.

devmarketingsummit-keynote
Janel Garvin opening keynote – showing the latest developer trends from Evans Data surveys

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