What is Developer Advocacy
What Developer Advocacy is, and how it benefits B2B and B2C
And how can it benefit business to business and business to consumer?
Developer advocacy often gets described in terms of common tasks:
- Building community — developer forums, emails, events like hackathons. (Mary Thengvall, Director of Developer Relations at Camnunda says ‘Developer Relations is the umbrella term for the team whose primary responsibility is building a community both online and offline.’)
- Writing content — creating thought leadership about your company’s product and developer advocacy, marketing content for developers, assisting with technical marketing content.
- Developing code samples — writing sample apps, covering key use cases, building useful developer tools. (Eddie Zaneski, a Developer Relations Manager at DigitalOcean says ‘I like to describe the role as having three pillars,” he says. “Three Cs: code, content, and community.’)
- Inspiring developers to build — this is often accomplished through talks, relationship building, blog posts, and code samples.
- Collecting feedback and sharing it — figuring out what developers need to succeed with your product, then telling the right people in your company. (@Roach, Developer Relations at Slack says ‘DevRel is…collecting and relaying feedback to other teams…inspiring people to build.’)
Another way to talk about developer advocacy is in terms of its main goal. The goal of developer advocacy is to create a great developer experience. Define a great developer experience as a situation where a developer efficiently and effectively implements your product. Your job as a developer advocate is to put yourself in the shoes of a developer trying to integrate your product and ask ‘what would make this product easier and more efficient to implement?’
While the question can be answered by a company’s existing teams, it’s easy for existing teams to forget the developer experience. Marketing and Sales teams, for example, want to focus on reaching a decision maker with their efforts. The person who writes the checks and decides on a product is unlikely to also be doing the developer work. The way you connect with decision makers will not be the same as the way you connect with developers. Product often focuses on what features a customer wants, not how a product will be integrated or developed. For this reason, developer advocacy can benefit B2C or B2B companies. The work may include different tasks, but the goal is the same — make integrating your product easy for developers so they can succeed.
Benefits of Developer Advocacy for B2B and B2C
Both B2B and B2C businesses benefit from developer advocacy when it comes to:
- Reducing support time — The right code samples and developer tools help developers integrate your product right away.
- Increasing revenue — If your product is easy to implement, and you thoroughly cover major use cases, developers implement your product faster, allowing you to earn more money.
- Scalability — The more popular use cases you anticipate and provide a solution for, the easier it is to scale. Instead of wasting time on individual custom integrations, you can offer an effective, out-of-the-box solution. This can be accomplished through strategic partnerships where you collaborate with another company to offer an integration. Or it can be done by offering the right sample apps and documentation.
How to Create a Great Developer Experience
You create a great developer experience by offering the following:
- Easy product sign up.
For B2B: You may want to be selective with sign up. That’s fine, however you should have an efficient way to get started once a customer says they’re ready to integrate. The more you can automate getting started after the initial gatekeeping, the better it is for support, engineering, and integration speed.
For B2C: Keep gatekeeping to a minimum and automate getting started as much as possible.
- Good documentation. At a minimum, offer application programming interface (API) reference content, example client URL Request Library (cURL) requests for popular basic use cases, code samples for basic use cases, and getting started tutorials. To get an idea of how your documentation stacks up, check out API Documentation Maturity — How Do Your Docs Stack Up?
For B2B: Focus on core use cases and strategic partnerships that let you offer pre-built integrations. Frequently, B2B doesn’t want to spend as much time catering to developers, so you might stop here with documentation rather than adding a developer forum or developer-focused blog.
For B2C: Start with core use cases and strategic partnerships. After that, for B2C content development depends on your strategy. Are you growing a developer forum? You’ll need regular posts engaging developers to answer their questions and provide updates about new tools or developer focused content. Do you want to build a popular developer-focused blog? Then you’ll need to work on blog content that interests a developer audience. Decide what you want to build first, create useful metrics, and go from there. Focus on what will add the most value. What do you hope to get from a popular blog or forum? How will you track success?
- Good developer tools. This will vary depending on your product offering. If you’re offering an API, then you might consider software development kits (SDKs) to handle any API complexities. Try to anticipate what languages will be most popular.
If you decide you want to work to cater to developers, your experience will also include:
- A developer forum — Developers can find answers to their questions from you, and help one another. This is a great way to start building a community for your product.
- A developer focused blog — Developers can read about content that pertains to your product, interesting product implementations, and general news that’s part of your industry. Make the blog useful beyond touting your product for the best results.
- Showcasing of developer projects — Marketing will likely cover big customer integrations in their own content, but it’s also useful to showcase interesting projects where developers feel comfortable sharing their code. For example, if a developer creates an SDK for your product. You might show something like this off in a blog post.
- Talks and presentations — To build awareness for your product, giving interesting technical talks about your product can help a lot. These also help inspire developers to build with your product.
- Hackathons — A great way to find out what works and doesn’t about your product is a hackathon. When developers succeed, you can see what tools and content they used. Likewise, if they get stuck, you can find out what’s missing or what tripped them up.
Developer Advocate and Comedian