This post will cover the necessary steps for assembling an effective Developer Relations strategy.
Developer Relations (DevRel) is all about building relationships with software developers and helping them find success, often through the creation of educational content, opportunities, and other resources. When you do this strategically, and with prepared plans, you're able to make more informed decisions that lead to community growth and business impact.
In this post, we'll dive into the following components of a DevRel strategy:
Discovery collects the crucial data you need to complete a DevRel strategy, sometimes called a DevRel campaign.
This section of your strategy is incredibly important for the approval process. It requires in-depth engagement with stakeholders across your organization.
The objective should break down the why of your strategy. What problem are you trying to solve, what research have you done, and how will you solve this problem through your strategy?
You will drive the biggest impact for your company and key stakeholders by ensuring that your DevRel program goals align with your company goals, and your strategic goals align with both.
Goals may differ for developer-first companies versus developer-plus companies. But in general, you want to make explicit the goals that align across your company.
Here is one example:
DevRel program goals
It's probably pretty clear that the audience section should break down who you are targeting with your strategy or campaign and why these audiences would benefit. If you've defined developer personas for your Developer Relations program this section should be a breeze.
It's incredibly important to outline potential risks early and have a plan to mitigate those risks.
One of the biggest risks is if the program is not well-aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the company. This misalignment can lead to a lack of support for the program from other departments, which can make it difficult to be successful.
Another risk to consider is that the program may not be well-received by the developer community. It's important to carefully research and understand the wants and needs of developers in order to create a program that is relevant and valuable to them. Failure to do so can lead to a lack of engagement and participation in the program.
Messaging can be quite detailed, especially if your strategy is focused on a new product offering or feature. It's incredibly important to work closely with stakeholders on messaging to ensure your entire company is representing your work in the same way. I usually break down some or all of the following areas:
For a detailed walkthrough of how to develop this messaging, I've created a DevRel Campaign Strategy Template you can access and use to step through all the elements of a successful strategy and campaign.
Unlock access to Tessa’s DevRel campaign strategy template
The resources focus area helps you break down exactly what you need in order for your strategy to be a success. For example, if you're a DevRel team of one, you may need support from other functions within your organization.
Will this strategy have a cost associated? Think about things like sponsorships, travel expenses, paid placement, etc. Outlining your budget early on will help you remove financial roadblocks that could occur later.
Whether you're a team of one or a team of ten, you still may need additional people resources from outside of your team. If you're considering an external party like a contractor or agency, start planning early as you may have to work through a longer approval process with your finance or legal team.
Oftentimes we have the tooling we need to deliver an impactful strategy if your DevRel program has been established for a while. However, ensure that you're thinking about every detail here, and if there is a new tool you may need, it's better to define this early on.
Clearly defining your tooling needs makes it clear to your approving stakeholders that a procurement process may need to take place.
All three of the resources outlined above usually require some form of an approval process—your entire strategy may include some form of an approval process.
It's incredibly important to outline who you need approval from and for what areas as early as possible. If you're at a larger organization, your approval process may take 30+ days, while at an early-stage startup you may be able to work through this in a matter of days.
Now it's time for the fun part! You're ready to define the deliverables that willl actually be produced as part of your strategy.
For each deliverable, you need to pull together the following details:
I also like to pull together the major milestones as well as deadlines. Project management tools like Airtable and Asana are really good at covering this area. I leverage Airtable and like to embed a view right inside of my strategy for stakeholders to review and continually reference.
Now it's time to make sure you're tracking the impact of your strategy overall as well as each individual deliverable and how they are accomplishing the goals that you outlined early on.
There are several best practices for tracking the impact of your program.
Regularly collect and analyze feedback from developers who are participating in the program (and watch for trending topics in your community). These conversations will help you understand their experiences and perceptions of the program, and can provide valuable insights into its effectiveness.
It’s important to track metrics such as the number of developers who are participating in the program, the level of engagement and activity among those developers, and any tangible results or outcomes that can be attributed to the program. These kinds of metrics will help you understand the overall impact of the program and demonstrate its value to the company.
Regularly track progress against the goal you initially set to help you understand the effectiveness of the program and identify areas for improvement. It’s a good idea to regularly review and assess the program to ensure that it is still aligned with the needs and goals of the company and the developer community. This can help you adapt the program as needed and ensure that it continues to be successful.
Layering data-based insights across your community channels can help you achieve the above. Instead of manually pulling this information, use an intelligent community growth platform like Common Room.
Common Room aggregates data from across your community channels—like GitHub, Twitter, Discord, Stack Overflow, and more—to provide a holistic view of the members and activity in your community. Powerful reporting gives you visibility into the metrics that matter for your DevRel strategy and organization, so you can provide personalized and authentic interactions across the entire developer experience. Try Common Room for free or request a demo.
This article was originally posted on Devocate, which joined the Common Room family in August 2022. For more Developer Relations insights and resources, check out the Common Room blog. Learn more about Common Room’s solution for DevRel teams if you're looking for an intelligent community growth platform to educate, empower, and enable your community.
For a step-by-step guide to laying out a successful campaign, unlock access to the DevRel Campaign Strategy Template.
Unlock access to Tessa’s DevRel campaign strategy template