Written by Sara Waszyńska, Product Manager at Advocu with a strong background in marketing and community building.
Developer advocacy is becoming an increasingly important role in the tech world, bridging the gap between developers and the products and services they use. It’s a unique role that requires a combination of technical and marketing expertise to craft engaging and effective messaging for the developer and end-user communities.
If you are a developer marketer, this article takes a closer look at what developer advocacy is and how it can help tech companies reach new audiences, build relationships and scale their business.
Who is a developer advocate, and what is their role?
A developer advocate is a technical professional who fosters relationships between a company and the development community. The role involves providing developers with valuable resources and support, such as tutorials, best practices guides, and troubleshooting assistance.
Additionally, developer advocates often participate in events, such as conferences, hackathons, seminars, and meetups, to further support the development community. Through their efforts, developer advocates are able to foster trust, collaboration, and innovation between companies and developers.
Developer advocates usually have a unique set of technical knowledge combined with a skill to teach people. Translating complicated technical issues into simple to digest knowledge is their true power.
Their main goal in the company is simple – to enable developers to be successful with your product. In more mature companies, they’re part of developer relations (DevRel) teams, while early-stage startups typically hire them as the foundation of such a team.
Internal advocacy team vs. external developer program and community power
In the paragraph above, you read about internal developer advocates – people who are hired by your company. But there is also another option… read below. 😉
As a marketer, you're probably familiar with the term “advocacy”. All the brands in the world, whether in developer or “classic” marketing, are looking for these advocates, ambassadors. People who believe in their product, believe in the values of your company, get value from your product and want to promote it.
In the developer world, this “promotion” happens through education, through the content, relations, spreading knowledge and value. There are no discount codes, no referral links, no “only until midnight 20% off”.
That’s why there are no customer referrals programs, there are Advocacy Experts, Ambassadors and whatever you can imagine programs. And they all focus on 2 tasks:
- Spot the most engaged developer community member, who is advocating for your technology.
- Make sure they feel value, rewarded, and got a space to create educational content about your products.
Take a look at these examples:
Google Developer Experts – program created by Google, gathering over 1000 of professionals, who day by day write content, speak on the conferences and educate about Google technologies.
GitHub Stars – a hall of fame for most engaged GitHub community members, who serves the community as the experts of the product.
Women Techmakers – another program created by Google, which focuses on supporting and educating women in tech. Near 2000 fanatics women ambassadors, dev professionals who create technical content about Google technologies and/ or being a woman in tech.
Docker Captains Program – which gathers members of the Docker community that are both experts in their field and are passionate about sharing their Docker knowledge with others.
How developer advocates and developer marketers can work together?
As the tech industry continues to grow, the need for effective developer advocacy and marketer engagement increases. With both disciplines having their own unique skillsets and approaches to achieving success, it is important to understand how the two can work together.
By combining developer advocacy's ability to actively engage with the developer community, with a marketing team's strategic insights, both disciplines can create powerful campaigns and initiatives to reach a wide range of developers and potential customers.
Here are a few ideas of how developer advocates and developer marketers can work together (to learn how they can work together with product managers or sales representatives, click here).
1. Preparing and executing a technical content marketing strategy – advocates are usually in direct contact with developer community, users. They know their needs, pain points and challenges with your product. They can also write the technical content or prepare an educational video. Developer marketers, on the other hand, are the ones who know how to prepare an excellent content strategy and how to distribute it to reach as many people as possible.
2. Supporting your marketing team by providing valuable insights, knowledge sharing, and taking care of tech-specific daily tasks. It’s somehow related to the above – advocates are a great source of feedback from the developer community. They can provide insights on changing the messaging on your website, language used in the newsletter, or check if there is no bug in your code used on the graphic (yes it’s important, Microsoft checked it on its own 😀).
3. External Developer Advocacy program is an unlimited source of content and stories about your users. Check how Women Techmakers marketing team use them to run their social media:
4. Developer journey and developer enablement. Typically, the marketing team is responsible for the website, messaging there and how the journey looks like from landing on your page to creating a proof of concept with your software. Monitoring, tracking and improving the developer journey is a great opportunity for marketing and advocacy teams working together.
5. Branding and voice of your product. This is the part where developer advocates and program managers should lean into marketers expertise. There is an amazing and detailed article about it on Product Marketing Alliance.
Together, developers and marketers can create powerful campaigns to reach their target audience. The most important part to do it, is to communicate and exchange the valuable insights that both sides have.