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What is a developer champion?
Apr 8th, 2021

What is a developer champion?

This blog post—originally titled What Are Developer Superfans?—has been updated to include content from other posts.

Developer champions are product users who write code or leverage your product technically. They highly admire your product and likely use it daily.

They're your product advocates. They're in various developer communities, eager to tell everyone about your product.

And when I say developer community, I’m not just referring to your community forum. I’m referring to any place where your developer customers may spend their time focusing on your product.

Other examples of this are your company's profiles on Twitter, GitHub,, etc. Your developer champions support your product, add value, and share their expertise with your customers.

How developer champions can help a brand

Developer champions are power users of your product and are strong advocates for your brand. They provide knowledgeable feedback about your product. Their efforts, expertise, and influence in the technical community are invaluable, leading more developers to adopt it.

Product feedback

Developer champions provide product feedback, both directly and indirectly. As the most knowledgeable users of your product, developer champions have insights into the usability and functionality of your product. They also find and report bugs and issues within your platform to you. They can provide insights into future product directions and feature ideas. Conversely, they can also provide indirect feedback through product usage analytics. Their data can be collected, analyzed, and used to inform product decisions.

Beta testing

Developer champions participate in beta testing programs to help improve your product early in its development lifecycle. They will be the first users to test your product to understand its ease of use. They can help you find bugs and issues.

Use cases and edge cases

Developer champions can help uncover your product's use cases and edge cases. As they use your product for their own purposes, they may leverage its features in ways not necessarily aligned with its original design intent. With this, they may identify new uses for an existing feature. They may also find edge cases in your product, informing you of potential issues your users may encounter.

Brand awareness

Developer champions are typically out in the wider developer ecosystem, recommending your product to their developer colleagues. This is the most authentic way to increase your developer audience and brand awareness.

Criteria for a developer champion

It’s important to identify criteria outlining your ideal developer champion. These criteria can help you understand who you're looking for to be your brand advocate.

Choosing the right developer champions to represent and enhance your brand will make all the difference. It will help target your attention, effort, and resources.

Some of these criteria could include quantitative metrics such as:

  • Product usage (such as how long they've been a user, how much they've used the product in terms of hours or number of actions)
  • Community activity and engagement (such as the number of meetups they’ve participated in, number of messages sent, and how long they've been active in the community)
  • Content publishing and engagement (such as how much content they've published and their content's engagement rates)
  • Social media following (such as the number of followers they have across different social channels)

Also consider qualitative measures, considering who they are, their experiences, expertise, and values.

Some qualitative criteria could include:

  • Professional credibility and alignment (such as their experiences in development in the same industry as your product, their educational background, their projects, and their content)
  • Personal compatibility (such as their personal values, their empathy, and their willingness to help others)

Using these criteria, you can set parameters within Common Room to help you identify potential developer champions within your community.

Tips for working with developer champions

The relationship between a brand and a developer champion can be a tough one to navigate. Developers are cautious when it comes to sales pitches. That's why putting your best foot forward is imperative when trying to recruit and work with a developer champion.

Here are a few tips:

Tip 1: Get to know them and their motivations

Once you've identified potential developer champions, get to know them and their motivations. Where do they work? What social media platforms are they active on? What type of content do they write about? What kind of product are they building? The idea here is to understand how you can provide value to them.

Tip 2: Focus on the benefit for the champions, not yourself

Always focus on the benefits for the champions, not just yourself. Focus on what they will receive from the relationship and work with your brand. Developer champions are priceless for your brand—ensuring they are happy and motivated to continue working with you will reap massive benefits. If we can provide just one tip, it's this: Ensure that your developer champions feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. They should gain more from your relationship than you do.

Tip 3: Encourage them to speak up

Find ways to cultivate their engagement in your communities. Tag them in posts you think they have the answers to and showcase their work and contributions. Over time, depending on their motivations and how you reward them, they’ll begin to contribute more and more.

Tip 4: Reward them

Last but not least, reward them! If you get to know them and understand their motivations, you can offer them a reward for their time and effort that will be of value to them. This could be anything, such as introducing them to someone in your network, giving them priority access to early releases, investing in their projects, sharing and increasing the visibility of their content—the options are endless!

Where are your developer champions?

Now that you know who you're looking for and what you can offer them, how do you find them?

You can find your developer champions without tools in a few ways. You can use Twitter to see who mentions your brand and speaks positively about your product. You can use Product Hunt to see who has upvoted your product and who supports your journey. You can use platforms like to understand who is searching for your product. You can also use platforms like StackOverflow and GitHub to understand who is helping others with issues with your product.

There are challenges with this manual analysis approach. It’s difficult to scale. It's also somewhat qualitative, meaning the accuracy is subjective and questionable. This may be an effective method to get started but may not be feasible in the long term.

The intelligent approach to champion management

Intelligent tools offer a practical and streamlined approach to recruiting and onboarding your developer champions.

At Common Room, we offer tools that help you create a developer champions program. Most notably, our impact points feature is extremely useful. This feature allows you to see a weighted score for each community member regarding their participation across digital channels. This will enable you to find the community members who contribute most more quickly.

Our advanced community intelligence gives you AI-powered insights for each community member, providing you with insights into their behavior, sentiment, and activity.

Lastly, our integrations allow you to connect to various platforms, including Slack, Discord, Discourse, GitHub, StackOverflow, LinkedIn, Youtube, Reddit, Meetup, Insided, Intercom, Medium, HubSpot, Salesforce, and more. This allows you to view the engagement of community members across many platforms.

When starting with Common Room, the first step to setting up your account is integrating your community and data channels. This will allow you to leverage Common Room's advanced community intelligence to get AI-powered insights.

Next, navigate to members and select a person’s name to see their profile and view more information about them, including their contact info, activity, team notes, and more.

Lastly, explore the filters. This powerful tool allows you to search for members who meet specific criteria, such as location, sentiment, role, etc.

Setting up a developer champions program

A developer champions program is a program within your organization where you recognize, onboard, and reward power users who contribute meaningfully to your community and product.

Starting your own developer champions program is no easy feat. Here are the main steps we've used to seed our champions program.

Step 1: Align internal goals

Align your goals internally with all the teams impacted by this program. Explain how the program will provide value to each team and allow them to provide input.

Step 2: Set the developer champion criteria

Establish your developer champion criteria. Understand what you're looking for in your ideal developer champions.

Step 3: Find your champions

Utilize the tools at your disposal, whether those are intelligent tools or manual approaches, to find potential developer champions.

Step 4: Start the conversation

Reach out to your potential champions and start the conversation. Build rapport with them. Begin to understand who they are, what they’re struggling with, and how becoming a champion can provide value to them and their work.

How Common Room can help

A developer champion is a community member who understands your product deeply, contributes to your product community, and helps others. They provide immense value to your product and brand.

A champions program can help you identify, recruit, and build relationships with your developer champions. These relationships benefit your product and provide value to your champions.

Learn more about how Common Room can help you build your champions program.

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.