Back in May, we got together with the DevRelX Community to look into and discuss the latest Developer Program Leaders survey results. The session was joined by our research analysts and a panel of Developer Program Leaders Forum experts.
Together we deep-dived into how Developer Relations practitioners prioritise their resources and activities, and justify the value of their developer program, offering everyone in the community an insight into how they compare against the industry’s practices, especially in times of uncertainty.
Since not all audience questions were addressed during our recent Developer Program Leaders Forum session, we are back for a spotlight series with our Forum experts!
In today’s spotlight is Yuri Santana, Developer Relations Advocate at Supabase, who answers your questions, and shares tips and takeaways from the 10th Developer Program Leaders survey.
Continue reading below to hear more from Yuri's insights, watch the full session on-demand recording and get access to the results at devrelx.com/dpl-survey.
The Biggest Challenges for Developer Relations
One of the things that caught my eye was the current challenges for DevRel practitioners. We can see that the big 3 are growing the community, attracting new users and keeping current community members engaged in the community. Why is this?
We can all agree that single communities are the fundamental building blocks of the tech community. It has a direct impact on the perception and interaction you have with individuals and can probably change the future of your product.
The most effective and successful communities require making a self-sustainable environment where little supervision from the managers (or mods) is necessary. The point is not to bring members blindly into the community, but to make it easy for them to build relationships with each other and breathe life into the community with their interactions.
By doing so, your community will not only grow in members who are looking to actively participate in a community but also in the amount of useful feedback, connections, ambassador programs and more that can come from it.
How can we get over this hurdle?
Make the team members engage with the community. You first need to lead by example. The members in your community will follow the lead of the team members who are interacting, organising events, answering questions and more.
Foment that of what you want to see more of. By doing so, you will reward the behaviours you want to see in your community. A common example is someone who made GitHub issues or PRs helping your product, you might want to give them a shout-out on the general channel of the community or send some swag to show appreciation.
To learn more about how to increase engagement within your community you can check out the article I made for DevRelX on the topic.
What is your best advice in reaching devs and team leaders? Where are they and what do they want to see?
The best advice is to find where they are. Make the exercise of finding out which developer personas your product is targeting and join them where they are, whether that is Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, Discord, Slack or any other social media account. Always keep in mind: Who are the decision-makers? Who will be implementing it?
Developers are very hands-on when trying out a new product, find a way to ease the pain points your product is trying to solve, and explain the solutions and how they can use them to get there. This can be done with code examples or quick starter guides.
Let them know there is available support if needed, why is it better than X, if it’s free to try out or if you can self-host. Is it easy to implement? How much does it cost? Is the community positive? How much money can this save us compared to X? Show the real evidence of the impact your product has and how it satisfies the needs in the market.
In many orgs DevRel focuses on educating and enabling the masses - how do DevRel goals and tactics change when your target audience is 500 developers vs. 500k?
We can understand why products with a 500 or less audience have as a priority the discovery, learning and building stages of the developer journey.
There is a need to get the product out there and get users to spread the word. There’s a lot of emphasis on community engagement, organic growth and the implementation of the tool. With time, the focus will shift to scaling users or ways of conversion if necessary.
There’s a lot of immediate interaction with the users, the feedback helps polish the documentation available for developers, ways to simplify the learning curve or adoption into an already set process, a blog with the latest releases and more.
Products with more than 500k members, good discoverability and adoption from the community will focus more on ways to scale users, partner programs, sponsors, and more.
It will also be more focused on things being built with the product. This will reinforce the idea that the product can solve the developer’s needs and it will give material to showcase to possible new users.
In this phase, feedback is necessary on the learning stages to craft a better version of quick starter guides, code samples, tutorials, etc. Focus is also kept on the discovery portion of the journey with events, social media, blogs, newsletters and case studies.
The focus will ultimately be determined by the current needs of the product and how it will help achieve the goals set by the company.
How do you get started in DevRel?
By accident, I thought, but looking back, it was the natural progression of the path I was taking. I was very publicly looking for an engineering job while I was creating content about my self-taught journey and sharing what I was learning with the community when a company reached out because they liked the work I was doing, the content I was putting out and the way I interacted with the community. I’ve always been very active in the Tech Twitter community, so that’s how they found me.
I ultimately helped them grow their community, work on documentation and manage their social media channels (Twitter, Discord, YouTube, LinkedIn). This helped me be a bit of an all-round DevRel, gaining lots of experience on the different branches and making me realise that DevRel is the perfect combination of content creation and programming. I’m forever grateful for the risk they took by offering me my first tech role.
What success metrics apply in today's climate?
The success metrics will vary from company to company. They will be determined by the current needs of the company and how it will help achieve the goals set by it.
Some common success metrics we see are KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), those that can be traced back to a certain number of new users or sales and that can be replicated with the same if not better results.
It’s important that before tracking any metrics there’s an alignment between what the DevRel team thinks and what the management team thinks. This will make it easier to deliver the results they want and for DevRels to move towards that clear previously set goal.
Usually, our roles are not clearly defined, how to have clarity if the management refuses to define the role?
Try identifying some pain points they’re hiring you to help them with, they’re hiring you to work on the product. To increase awareness? To manage the community? From there, identify which branch of DevRel your responsibilities fall into; DevEd, DevEx, Developer Marketing, Developer Success or if they are a mix of all of the above. This will also help you know with which departments you’ll be interacting and help you be on the same page as them with your DevRel efforts.
It’s crucial to have a clear line of communication with management, so after you have understood your responsibilities in this role and where it falls under the DevRel umbrella, reach out with your findings and also help them understand the different variants of DevRels since it’s still fairly new.
Kudos to Yuri for such insightful answers!
You can rewatch the full session and get access to the latest Developer Program Leader survey results at devrelx.com/dpl-survey. To be part of peer discussions like this one, get notified about the next survey and access more industry data, join the DevRelX Community!