Build the Right Developer Community, and They Will Come

Software developers relate to technology, not to the brand or company behind it.

Developer evangelism is like trying to sell shoes to a bunch of cobblers. Software developers relate to technology, not to the brand or company behind it. They aren’t fazed by traditional marketing tactics, and their radar for being thrown the company party line is keen. You’ll get their attention after you earn street cred by demonstrating your technical know-how and ability to feel their pain. You need to gain their respect before you get their ear.

On the other hand, developers are quite happy to listen to what other developers have to say. Driven by the passion to solve problems, developers are eager to share their knowledge and learn from the experience of their peers. Unleash these like-minded folks in the right, smartly steered (not overly controlled) environment and amazing things start to happen. It’s the power of shared knowledge.

It’s this power that makes community the cornerstone of great developer relations programs. An online developer community is an ideal platform to facilitate your devrel goals. It’s where you give developers the freedom to play with your company’s product, to put all its features and functionality to the test, and, moreover, to share their findings, questions, and comments with other developers all over the world. A community is an ideal place to quench developers’ thirst for best practices, tips, tools, industry news and trends, content, education, and any other resources that help them grow professionally and do their jobs faster, better, and more efficiently.

Getting developers to your community is only the beginning. The trick is inspiring their enthusiasm and keeping them engaged, focused, and willing to contribute to your product.

Online Community Software Created by Developers

Whether you want to build an internal or external developer community, you don’t have to start from scratch. Online community software, like AnswerHub, provides the tools for building and managing a community aimed at meeting the needs and preferences of developers. AnswerHub was created for developers by developers.

Developer evangelism involves give and take. If you’re asking developers to share their knowledge about your product, you have to give them something in return. It’s important to recognize and reward quality contributions and highly active members. AnswerHub, for instance, offers leadership boards, reputation points, and badges.

Developers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to share code, documentation, and ideas in your community. Make it easy for them to contribute by offering up a familiar environment such as Stack Overflow and Quora.

Growing and managing a thriving developer community isn’t a small feat, but the time and perspiration you put in pay off. You’ll earn one of the best, if not the best, channels to fuel word of mouth for your product and retain that hard-won developer loyalty.

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