My name is Gary, the managing director at Catchy, and I’m going to dig into the top five trends in developer marketing for 2022.

But, first a bit about me and my company.

What’s Catchy?

Catchy helps to build, grow and manage the biggest developer marketing programs in the world (we’ve done it for over 12 years at this point).

And, in that time, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the best and brightest in developer marketing. We also get to do quite a bit of work in emerging tech, which these days means we’re working in Web3, in gaming, and in the metaverse – it’s a really cool look across the industry.

One of the interesting things about our business is that we operate on what we call a hybrid consulting and agency model. This positioning in working with different brands (and different types of work), allows us to look across the entire spectrum of the developer marketing industry at any given time.

It’s a very different perspective than someone on the brand side who goes very deep on one set of technologies or practices. By getting the horizontal scope of the industry, we get an interesting perspective on everything.

Our consulting team is constantly doing competitive benchmarking across the sector, and our research team works with all our clients. They’re talking to developers, doing trend measurement across the industry, running focus groups, running qualitative and quantitative sessions, etc.

And then, on the agency side, our creative and marketing teams are working directly with the best in class brands in the business to create content that reaches developers around the world.

My background can give you an idea of where the trends I’m talking about here are coming from – especially when we look into a lot of these players in the emerging tech space, where we see a lot of risk-taking and innovation happening.

Without further ado, take a look at the top five trends for developer marketing in 2022.

The impact of Web3

I’ll kick off things by talking about one of the big macro trends we’re seeing in the industry right now, largely as a result of Web3’s explosion over the past two years. A good place to start when we talk about this is an end-of-year report from Electric Capital, which estimates there are now close to 18,500 monthly active Web3 developers.

Electrical capital report about active Web3 developers

We saw 34,000 new developers commit Web3 code just in 2021; that was the highest in history. And, although this number seems relatively small, considering the overall size of the developer industry, it’s important to recognize we’re hitting a bit of a turning point in Web3.

Blockchain technology itself has always been interesting. But, it posed a big risk for developers to invest years of their career into it. For many, the idea of leaving a six-figure job with stock options and insurance to bet it all on a technology that might not succeed, or be around in a few years, wasn’t worth it.

It wasn't until 2020 that we saw crypto going mainstream in a big way. All of a sudden, the sector that had relatively low developer interest had trillions of dollars at its disposal to drive innovation.

So, now, we’re at this really interesting turning point where Web3 can offer top developers the same, if not better, incentives to move into what was once considered the Wild West of blockchain.

The result of this has been what we’re calling the most destabilizing economic conditions in the developer space – or, at least, that we’ve seen in a long time.

For the past decade, competition for developer talent has largely been predictable, right? It was FAANG companies and a handful of unicorn start-ups, and everyone kind of bounced around these orgs.

But we now have this entirely new sector armed with seemingly limitless cash, and they’re coming for developer talent.

1. Decentralization of developers

So, what does this mean? What do we think’s going to be the impact on developer marketing? In general, from all this, there are really three things that we’ve been looking at:

  • We’re going to see increased competition for developer talent across the board.
  • Developer relations (DevRel) programs are going to change rapidly.
  • Developer marketing in the form of content and education programs will be increasingly crucial for everyone in the space.

Increased competition for developer talent

This means that developer acquisition programs are going to be more critical than ever for companies that want to stay relevant and drive innovation. And that’s developer acquisition as far as recruiting and getting developers to come work for you.

Also, as we look at third-party developer ecosystems, like a marketplace, you’re going to see a lot of increased competition for developer attention spans.

RevRel programs will change rapidly

As more and more developers dip a toe into the very community-oriented Web3 space, we’re going to see a chance when Web3 moves fast. And this is really accelerating the adoption of platforms like Discord and Telegram, as well as the developer community in general, as people are using new platforms and existing ones in different ways.

We’re really seeing speed because it’s such a tight-knit community and developers are becoming used to this speed and responsiveness from the community and the companies they’re working with.

All this makes the new platforms and approaches much more important to DevRel strategy than they may have been over the last decade.

Content and education programs will be even more crucial

This is a result of competition for talent heating up, competition for developers, time, headspace… and this, quite frankly, is going to open up a lot of opportunities for DevRel and developer marketing practitioners, as these new companies seek to learn more the best practices of Web 2.0.

So, we’re not only seeing in these first two points a shift in developer talent, but we also think there’s going to be a big shift in the developer marketing space and the DevRel spaces – your skills are going to be in demand again.

An entirely new sector that wants to go fast, wants to break things, and now wants to do cool new innovative things and learn from the best practices of Web 2.0. So, decentralization of developers – lots going on there. And we do think that this is one of the major macro forces that’s driving a lot of trends and change in the industry in 2022.

developers working together in a room with big windows

2. The importance of the individual

This is playing out on social media right now, but we’re seeing it across the board in a number of different marketing channels and tactics.

When it comes to the importance of the individual, I thought a good place to start is to look at what our research team has begun to see in the market and dug into, which plays out on Twitter.

You have these very high profile individuals who have these massive social media following. Elon Musk is a great example, as he has over 100 million followers, but where the interesting nuance is, is when you start looking at these people compared to the companies that they own, run, or work for.

Tesla only has over 16 million followers, making Elon Musk a lot more influential than the company, which is pretty interesting for someone like me who’s done a lot of marketing for brands.

And this is a common thing in several areas, from space to gaming. Hideo Kojima, one of the most legendary game producers, has over 3 million followers, while his production studio, Kojima Productions, only has about 450,000.

But what does this mean? What’s the takeaway? How are we leveraging this in our approach to the market?

The answers are in this understanding of how social media and networks are changing in general. For a very long time, social media strategy was focused on this idea of “one to many”, of having your brand channels and focusing on them.

No matter which ones you use (Twitter, LinkedIn or Discord, for instance), you have one strategy for that channel, put everything out, and try to manage everything through that one central point.

But, what we’re seeing is the shift to what we’re calling “few to many”, meaning Product Managers, Lead Developers, Head of Development, Head of Creative, etc., are getting massive Twitter followings that follow them from company to company.

We’re now trying to have a more expansive approach to how we’re engaging with and reaching out to the audience. We recognize that it’s no longer this one-to-one relationship of a business talking to another business, or a business talking to its customers, it’s much more this matrix of individuals chatting with each other.

And there are two different effects from that. One is top-down. It’s important to realize that your marketing channels really extend far beyond just your corporate channels. You have this really amazing chance to engage individuals, thought leaders, program managers, product leaders, developers within your company, and more, and leverage that in an integrated marketing strategy.

And then you have bottom-up. It’s crucial to target individual developers; you’re not just targeting a company when you go out on social media. You’re targeting all these people and individual business decision-makers at your target company, so they can help champion your product and service up.

3. The tale of builders and buyers

One of the most interesting things we always talk about is customer journeys. We’ve worked with a lot of our clients on this and, for a long time, we’ve seen these two different approaches: the B2B market buying journey (which is focused on a business persona), and the DevRel approach that is more like a developer journey map.

But, at the end of the day, you really have two audiences here that are integrated.

So, what we’ve started doing, and this is a really oversimplification of how it works, as we’ve started researching and working on integrated builder-buyer journeys, we’ve begun calling the buyer the non-technical persona that controls budget, typically, and calling the builder that technical persona who’s doing a lot of the research and validation.

buyer-builder developer marketing journey

This is generally how we look at it and use these audiences to identify shared touch points along the way.

So, what are their different levels of awareness? How do they come together to kick off and trigger a purchase decision? Then what does the research look like for that non-technical, buyer persona? Who are they? Where do they go? What questions are they asking?

What is it and how is it different for the builder? What does prototyping look like? What does that feedback loop look like there? And, then, what are the conversations they have when they come together for selection and purchase?

What we found is that, by viewing this as a more holistic integrated approach to buyer journeys and builder journeys, you can create more unified developer marketing programs that have a mix of both and allow you to have a shared, consistent message.

That reaches the right audience at the right touch point at the right time.

4. The rise of Discord and Slack

One of the most interesting trends flirts with DevRel too, as it looks at some of the statistics of where developers are, where dev communities are, and how that’s growing. This is data from the State of Developer Relations report by another organization, which does a phenomenal job.

state of developer relations 2021 that says slack and discord are top five popular channels for developers

Something that overlapped with our research as well is seeing Slack sitting in the top five most popular channels for developers. But the interesting nugget is Discord sitting at 13.8% – that might not seem all that incredible, but Discord is, year after year, that biggest riser. It went from being just about 2% to 13.8%.

And this is something we found in these more forward-facing industries that move fast, like Web3, metaverse, gaming, etc. Discord is really becoming a B2B channel that’s used a lot for developer marketing.

For us, the question then becomes, why? And how can we leverage this moving forward? We really believe there’s a really simple explanation for why this happens and how to utilize the channel for best effectiveness:

  • The desire for support and community, which is nothing new in developer marketing.
  • The speed of updates and responses in Discord and Slack is instantaneous. You can reach out and there’s always an active online community; you also have a lot of the functionalities that you’d typically see in a forum, such as the ability to talk to the group as a whole, make announcements, talk about news as they come out, and so on.
  • Discord and Slack are both niche and broad at the same time. You can go as deep as you want or as broad as you want; you can be in a channel focused on JavaScript in general or go into something like NFT development or Algorand blockchain with specific applications for gaming. Everything exists on that same platform. Developers don’t have to bounce around and go to other channels, forums, or websites. They’re able to have all their broad and niche interests in one place, which is very consumer- and developer-friendly.

The core takeaway here is, if you’re not using these channels yet, do it now – and take a look at what other brands are doing, especially in the gaming sector, in blockchain, in the Web3 space, etc. There are some really innovative uses of these channels for support of DevRel, for marketing, for news and announcements, for so much more!

5. The death of Corporate Memphis

This refers to the very traditional, flat, geometric figurative characters that have taken over the tech sector in the past decade, as you can see in the image:

corporate memphis examples from hinge and airtable

This aesthetic is called Corporate Memphis and it’s become the definitive style for big tech and for small start-ups for nearly ten years at this point. This past decade has seen an increased focus on apps and user interfaces, so brands have turned to utility of design.

However, now, it’s groan-inducing – when people see Corporate Memphis, they’re probably thinking, “oh, another tech company, another platform”. It’s buzzword, buzzword, buzzword.

But the pendulum is swinging in a totally different direction into the abstract and the colorful 3D characters.

abstract and colorful 3d characters

Motion and shapes have come together center stage, and the current state of branding, tech and developers feels very exciting for the first time in a long time. It feels bespoke, bold. It often flirts the line between digital fine art.

In order to stand out visually, you have to avoid slipping into the familiar, the accessible, and the easy. So, whether it’s gaming or any other area of developer marketing, we’re now seeing this great opportunity to be creative, highly visual, and exciting with your brand.

Have an opinion or idea you want to share with other developer marketers? Write for us!

Create & contribute | Developer Marketing Alliance
We’ve got the right place and platform for your key insights, FAQs, new research, and much more. If it’s to do with developer marketing, we’re all for it.