How to win in DevRel Engagement: Part II

Understanding DevRel & Community

Chompy Twins: Keeping boredom at bay

The person who’s job is to grab “developer mindshare” these days tends to have the term DevRel somewhere in their title. Sometimes, the DevRel role is an add-on like mine is at Mozilla; it provides me access to cross functional teams (I work with marketing, engineering, evangelists and executives). Whatever the title, we’re all focused on creating this positive perception with the dev audience through our engagement tactics.

Apart from speaking at conferences and monitoring online forums, writing blogs and running product demos, the localized grassroots community outreach environment is now becoming part of DevRel engagement strategy. But who’s really benefiting from this audience expansion? Does anyone with corporate ties even belong in community?

During a break at this year’s ViewSource Berlin conference, I sat down with Ola Gasidlo [1] to talk to her about the DevRel role in community and get her opinions on some questions I had in my mind.

What does the DevRel role, mean? What is its influence to this collective organization that we refer to as “Community”? Are there conflicts to avoid as well as collaborative opportunities to capture?

Here’s a short list of some key points that I managed to jot down as we chatted. Reviewing them now has helped me pause, reflect, and better evaluate my own role in delivering value to the developer audience:

(these are my notes, not direct quotes):

  • Let’s be honest, DevRel folks are speaking on behalf of the company’s best interest; they are sometimes seen as the new breed of sales reps.
  • DevRel and Community are inherently different, and that’s ok, as long as it’s transparent to the audience.
  • DevRel culture actually hurts the long term investment strategy that’s core to Community engagement because corporate managers expect to see measured results on a financial quarterly basis.
  • DevRel strategy should align w Community strategy — focus on building content and community, simultaneously.
  • Community is about sticking to core values, building trust and long term investment.
  • Community needs money to run and be organized, but not much.
  • You can’t fake it; people who organize community events must be SUPER aware of community issues.
  • You can fake it, but it will fail; people who try to engage community with a veneer will be exposed and shunned.
  • Companies who are struggling to invest in their own DevRel strategy should invest in events, preferably organized by Community.
  • Both DevRel and Community engagement strategies should have a laser focus on enhancing the experience of the people within the community — empower them with the right tools, documentations, feedback channels.
  • And, don’t despair — there are some awesome DevRel folks and companies doing it well by following many of the items listed above.

What else do you see are the components that make up Community and Content that increases Engagement? Do you agree or disagree with our conversational points on DevRel and Community? Any of the comments above make YOU stop and think about your engagement strategy?

[1] Ola Gasidlo is the founder and coach at a chapter of OpenTechSchool. She is involved in numerous open source projects (github.com/zoepage/ama), is a prolific speaker, especially on the topic of off-line first, and builds community, globally.