Developers are the key to building and maintaining the infrastructure that powers web3. Developer Relations (DevRel) is practice of growing and nurturing relationships between developers and a web3 project. DevRel is focused on creating positive developer experiences, providing resources and support to, and fostering strong communities of contributors.
DevRel is one of the most important factors for the success of a web3 project. By building strong relationships with developers, web3 projects can ensure that they have the support they need to create innovative solutions that push the boundaries of what’s possible in blockchain.
Why Is It So Challenging to Build An Effective DevRel Program?
Developers are often early adopters of new technologies and are always looking for ways to improve their work processes or give them inspiration for what they develop next. They are often resistant to traditional advertising and are more likely to trust recommendations from their peers and colleagues rather than advertisements or sponsored content. The reality is developers do not hate marketing, but they do dislike gimmicks, irrelevant messaging, and things that don’t actually address their problems or their needs. They are a highly educated bunch, with over 80% of developers completing some form of higher education. Lacklustre and half-assed content marketing campaigns will fail miserably.
“Developer relations is about providing the resources, tools, and support developers need to build great things on top of your platform. It’s about creating a community of engaged developers who are passionate about your technology and excited to share their experiences with others.”– Kin Lane, Chief Evangelist at Postman
The developer audience require technical information and specific details about features and functionalities. Marketers must understand the type of developer that they want to build relations with and invest in relevant content and activity that provides value and builds trust with these community to build a thriving DevRel program.
Start by Developing a Measurable DevRel Strategy
Developing a successful developer marketing strategy in the web3 industry requires a deep understanding of your target audience, a commitment to open-source code, engagement with developer communities, hosting developer events, providing comprehensive technical resources, collaboration with other projects, and leveraging influencers. The five core building blocks of a great web3 DevRel strategy can be found below:
Define Your Goals & Objectives
What are you trying to achieve with your DevRel efforts? Are you looking to increase awareness of your brand to developers, increase the size of active developers on github, or improve customer retention? Defining your goals will help you determine the most effective DevRel tactics to employ.
Define essential business objectives and designate relevant, channel-specific KPIs that link back to those objectives. For example, if the objective is to increase developer engagement, then KPIs related to developer activity on Github, such as number of commits, pull requests, and issues resolved, should be included
Know Your Audience, Know Your Technology
In order to reach the objectives that you defined, you need to know who your audience is. You won’t understand your audience if you don’t know your technology inside-out. In web3, your target audience is likely to be experienced developers who have a strong understanding of blockchain technology and decentralised applications.
You should focus on attracting developers who are passionate about the technology and want to build innovative solutions on top of it. Understanding your ideal customer’s needs and interests is critical to creating and distributing your message to the right people in the right place at the right time. Some questions you can ask yourself to identify your developer audience include:
- Who are your ideal developers?
- What skills and knowledge do they possess?
- What motivates them to use your Web3 project?
- What are their pain points and challenges when using Web3 projects?
Develop Your Communications Plan:
Once you have defined your target audience, the next step is to create your brand/project comms plan. This should include your unique value proposition and differentiate it from other web3 companies. You should focus on highlighting the benefits of working with your project, such as access to cutting-edge technology, a supportive community, supporting team and opportunities meet peers with aligned goals.
Developers are very passionate about their work, and they want to work with companies that are equally passionate about technology and innovation.-Sarah Perez of TechCrunch
In Web3, transparency and openness are two values that are above all else. As part of your communications strategy, it is key to consider how your message will build trust and credibility with developers in the space. This can involve being transparent about your code, level of centralisation, governance, decision-making processes, as well as inviting feedback and contributions from the developer community. Some ways to be transparent and open include:
- Sharing regular updates about the project’s progress and milestones
- Hosting public meetings, Twitter or Reddit AMAs where developers can provide feedback and ask questions
- Being available and responsive to developer concerns and suggestions
Companies often fall into the trap of having too many messages that the audience don’t know what they stand for. We see that focusing on one or two core messages and ensure that message is saturated through relevant communities tends to lead to the highest success. Less can be more provided that everyone is aligned and pushing the same message.
Content & Distribution
Your content plan needs to align with your target audiences and communication plan. There are a number of tools such as Tweepsmap or Google Keyword Planner that allows you to tap into your target audience by showing popular search areas, topics that get the highest engagement, sentiment etc. Identify content themes and topics that will resonate with audiences. These could include tutorials, developer documentation, blog posts, video content, podcasts, webinars, or social posts. Consider the types of content that are most popular among your target audience and align with your goals and objectives.
Based on your target audience and content themes, determine the best formats and channels for delivering your content. For example, if your audience prefers video content, consider creating video tutorials or live streams. If they prefer podcasts, then identify podcasts hosts who have reach into your target audience to collaborate on a subject that is timely. Think of content and distribution as separate but connected activities. Build the right content first, then adapt the content to the audience and distribution channel to multiply the reach of your content.
It is clear that the next generation of developers are consuming and learning from different sources that in the past. Recently survey data from Stack Overflow show that Online Resources, Online Courses and Forums are the three fastest grown ways that younger audiences are learning to code. If your objective is getting the next generation of coders to join your blockchain then these are the educational channels you should be focusing on:
If you already have a large community, then content distribution becomes more organic. However, if you are just starting out then networking and partnering with web3 influencers and thought leaders is a good option to help promote your DevRel content. These individuals have established credibility and can help amplify your message to a wider audience.
You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Measure
You now know your audience, have you comms plan and content calendar all setup. But how do you know if your efforts are successful? You can’t improve it if you don’t measure it. Every good marketing strategy has connected to a set up KPIs that set the benchmark for success. It’s important to think back to your objectives and consider how to make them measurable.
Use a combination of strategic KPIs are used to measure long-term goals, while operational KPIs measure short-term tactics. For example, a strategic KPI could be to increase the number of active developers on Github by 20% within the next year, while an operational KPI could be to increase the number of Github stars on a specific repository by 10% within the next month. If your objective is to onboard new developers into your courses, then look at signups as a conversion metric.
Our Web3 Developer Relations Framework
Why Do Companies Often Fail at DevRel?
Many companies struggle with DevRel and fail to build an active developer community. Some of the top reasons why we’ve seen companies fail are:
- Lack of clear goals and objectives. Just like any other business function, DevRel needs to have clear goals and objectives that align with the overall business strategy. If a company doesn’t have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve, then it’s unlikely that they will be able to build a thriving developer community.
- Poor communication. Effective communication is critical to the success of DevRel. Companies often fail, because they don’t communicate effectively with their developer community. Developers are a picky bunch and won’t tolerate companies that are unable to answer their questions quickly and efficiently. This can include not providing enough information about products or services, not responding to developer feedback, or not engaging with developers on social media or forums. It’s important to establish clear channels of communication with developers and make sure that they feel heard and valued.
- Focusing on promotion instead of education. Often companies focus too much on promotion and not enough on marketing the most effective content for developers. It’s important to strike a balance between promotion and education and provide developers with the resources they need to be successful.
- Lack of authenticity. Authenticity is key to building a successful DevRel program. Developers can spot inauthenticity from a mile away, and companies that aren’t authentic in their DevRel efforts are likely top fail at DevRel. This is especially true in Web3 as the bar is even higher for openness, honesty and transparency. It’s important to be genuine and transparent to build a relationship of trust with developers.
Common DevRel Questions
While both DevRel and marketing roles are focused on building relationships between a company and its audience, DevRel is specifically focused on building relationships with developers. DevRel professionals have a deep understanding of developer needs and workflows, and are responsible for advocating for developers within their company.
A DevRel professional’s key responsibilities include building relationships with developers, understanding the needs of developers, advocating for developers within their company, creating and maintaining documentation and resources for developers, and organizing and participating in developer events and communities.
Companies measure the success of their DevRel programs through metrics such as community engagement, adoption rates of their products and services by developers, and feedback from developers.