Any successful developer program will have a solid content strategy behind it. By aligning your content efforts to the developer journey and to your business objectives, it will add significance to your productions. Content helps your brand establish its voice within the developer community and communicate what the program stands for and the paradigms it promotes. It is the main channel to support a contrarian or disruptive take on the market. Knowing how to prioritize and craft the right content takes time and proper planning. The content you produce, such as product updates and releases, documentation, non-technical blog posts, and social media updates needs careful consideration to ensure it follows a strategic narrative arc to properly convey key messages.
Know your audience
One of the most important aspects of writing for developers is understanding the context and applicability of the tools, services, and principles you intend to cover. There are many different types of developers and you’ll need to be able to identify who they are and understand how to connect with them. Look closely at your existing community, what type of developers are already active and building stuff? Consider the types of developers you’re likely to attract to your program and write content that helps them realize the opportunity of building with your platform and why it’s unique. Next, consider different competency levels, as your community is likely to be made up of experienced and new developers. Help new developers by ensuring they know how to get started on your platform and keep existing developers engaged by producing timely and relevant content.
Exploring content topics
Finding topics to engage your developer audience is easier than you might think. With a bit of time, planning and data analysis you should be able to easily find topics that resonate with the community. The best place to start is your own developer channels, such as forums and social media. Review the types of questions that have come up time and time again, and answer them. Check external sites, like Stack Overflow, Reddit, Twitter and other places where developers hang out. Find out what they are discussing and write content about it. If you’re about to launch a product update, write a piece of content about it. If you’re hosting a developer meetup, write about that too. There are many places to find topics, but you’ll be on the right track if you start by alleviating issues that developers keep asking other developers about.
Providing answers to a community of problem solvers
Developers are problem solvers and your content must provide value to them. When writing a technical post, ensure you have an end goal for the reader. For example, what can they build by reading your post? If you’re giving an update about a product release, ensure it’s technically correct and clearly explains the new features’ value. If you’re launching a developer contest, make sure it’s clear how developers can get involved, the T&C’s and submission dates. Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll be solving technical problems with all of your content, it must always serve a purpose and add value to the reader.
Adapt your tone of voice
Developer content typically falls into two distinct pots – technical and non-technical. The way you write content for these two categories is different. There is a time and a place to be conversational and your documentation isn’t one of them. If you’re writing technical content keep it in the same style, format and flow so developers become accustomed to the way these documents are laid out. The tone must be concise, accurate and non-conversational. For non-technical content such as a blog about your next developer meetup – make it sound fun and interesting. Don’t forget to include key information such as the date, time, location and any prerequisites developers need to complete before attending.
Don’t go quiet on your community, but don’t overload them
Publishing cadence can be difficult to get right. Ultimately you don’t want to leave big gaps of time when you haven’t communicated with the developer community. You also don’t want to overload them with so much content they switch off and disengage with your posts, or worse – your whole developer program. Knowing how much content to share with your community takes time to finely tune, and no community will be the same. Technical updates should be done immediately and as often as required. For non-technical pieces, you’ll want to adopt a slightly more cautious approach ensuring that you are sharing the right content at the right time. For example, it’s such a shame to see companies that hold amazing developer events, and then do not have any type of follow up communication with the developer community. After you hold an event, competition, outreach – you should be communicating this through your blog, forums, and social channels. Don’t just leave developers to ‘get on with it’, check in with them and don’t let them forget you are there to support them.
The future of your content is in your hands
One of the biggest challenges is staring at a blank screen and knowing you need to fill it with words. By creating a plan for each piece of content and being mindful about providing value and insight, your content is more likely to be relevant to developers. The goal is to improve and refine your content over time. Once you’ve got into a good rhythm and writing content feels more natural, move your focus on to improving your content topics, evaluating its performance across different platforms and mapping out where you can provide more value. It’s unlikely that every piece of content you write is going to top the charts with readership numbers, but by looking back and reflecting on your content efforts it’ll help you shape your future strategy and create a more engaged and happier developer community.