Last month I heard Danielle Morrill speak about “Engaging Developers with Content.” Danielle was the former CMO of Twilio, and currently the CEO of Mattermark. Twilio has been outstandingly successful by evangelizing developers around their platform. While she was at Twilio, the developer user base grew tenfold from 15,000 to 150,000. Yes, she’s impressive, intelligent, and the right person to speak on developer engagement!
The event was hosted by Heavybit, which was founded by Heroku co-founder James Lindenbaum. Heavybit is a “training ground” which teaches hackers how to be business savvy. Companies like Stripe, PagerDuty, Keen.io call Heavybit home. In this Wired.com article, appropriately titled ‘Heavybit’ Teaches Hackers How to Be Business Savvy, Lindenbaum says “while developers have the technical chops to build great products — and know what their fellow developers want to see in a product — they don’t always know how to build a great businesses.”
Yet Lindenbaum says B2D is a misnomer. “They’re still B2B; they’re still selling to a company,” he says, referring to the old business-to-business acronym. “They don’t sell to the developer. They sell through the developer. They have to provide value to a company in order to make money.”
Danielle Morrill started off the talk by having us understand our audience. Developers are smart. They want smart content, and they want you to respect their intelligence. If you think of manipulating people as a group, and you’re used to big company PR/marketing, your efforts won’t work with developers. Developers know when they’re being manipulated. Make your content relevant, to the point, and teach them something new.
There are different types of content:
What content makes the most money? Case studies
What is the most popular, aka probably the most controversial? Hacker news
What is the best content, and makes people think more highly of your company? It depends per company, but could be events which gets developers involved, e.g hackathons or contests. With these events, don’t make the goal too vague, and make the prize relevant.
When it comes to building new content, always be testing and track metrics. You should always look to create engaging content, so having insight into whether the content is “successful” matters! Make documentation beautiful and highlight benefits for your audience. The audience cares about benefits, which are attributed to your product or service features.
Social media, but be smart about it. One recommendation is to repurpose content in different distribution channels. If you have written an email which seems to get a high open rate or response rate, take that email and work it into your website. Then tweet about it. And write a blog about the content. And then in a few months or a year, do the same cycle with the same content! Amazing.
Everything is news, lower the bar. Stories about your new product, a company event, why a new hire is valuable to your customers. Even publish [edited] internal emails. Danielle said “people are always interested in how the sausage is being made.” Truth.
No one sells it like a founder, so make it a part of your culture to get founders, engineers, everyone involved. Have them be the brand, and even write documentation themselves. They can talk about about anything. The only think you probably shouldn’t talk about is your IP, your stack.
There are different ways to measure success. Web traffic, number of twitter mentions, number of comments. Identify a base line, come up with a goal, then you can even go deeper and start correlating activity and investment with real revenue.
Her line of the night: just fucking do it.
I should’ve asked Danielle if she had a sister, twin, or a referral who’s had experience in developer marketing.. Would be nice to have her on board!!!