You may think that communication and social media strategies are completely disconnected from developers’ daily work. You would be wrong: companies that encourage developers to communicate get a great return on investment. Here’s why and how.
Developers are tech companies’ greatest assets. That may sound cheesy, but every time one of them is recognized within the community, she/he credits a little bit of his aura back to his employer. It’s basic: “If that dev is good, she/he has to work for a good company”. This type of activity is gaining momentum among communication managers, but they absolutely need the help of their developers to create quality content that will interest their peers. Because, maybe more than in any other community, authenticity and high precision is required.
Encourage them to write about their work
The main reason developers should write about their work is that developers themselves love to read about it. The tech community is one of the most powerful and prolific of the Web. Maybe because developers are the “founding fathers” of the Internet and rule the place, maybe because sharing ideas and helping each other is part or their culture… Regardless of the reason, you’re not really a developer if you’re not involved one way or another in the tech community.
At Dailymotion, we actively encourage and support any engineer who wants to write a blog post to do so. We believe that this exercise is a great way to help them grow professionally and personally, by sharing their ideas with the community and developing their leadership skills. Knowing that writing is difficult, I, as a communication manager, am in charge of helping them find the best way to express their ideas on this blog, in line with Dailymotion’s identity and without betraying their uniqueness as a person.
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Encourage them to be active on social networks
In addition to writing articles, another tip to connect with your audience is to encourage your developers to engage on social networks. Most people who follow tech accounts on Twitter are actually following influencer developers and not directly the brands or the companies they work for. It makes sense: official corporate accounts are not the core curiosity of developers and are sometimes dismissed as superficial communication serving specific purpose or audience (press, investors, business partners…). So, if you have a company tech account (like we do: @dailymotionEng), make sure that you use it to retweet your developers personal accounts.
Developers are building software, websites, products, technologies… Whatever they are creating, these end services are going to be exposed to a set of users (BtoB, BtoC or internal), and you want them to buy - metaphorically or literally - what you’re offering. To achieve this, you need to convince them that your product and your team are the best on the market. Of course, you can proclaim it… or you can rely on a group of loyal users to highlight the strengths of your product for you. That’s the kind of benefit companies can get from a strong community.
Encourage them to talk at meetups
The developer community is extremely fond of meetups. These conferences, often free, value the selfless nature of a shared passion for all-things tech. The objective is to explain projects, share successes, learn from failures and study past experiences (REX). At Dailymotion, we strongly encourage our developers to take part in meetups and regularly let external groups use our office space to host them.
Meetups are the most time-consuming communication lever you can ask a developer to activate, but it is definitely the most profitable and effective. They will need time and motivation to prepare and improve their public speaking skills. As a company, offering speaker training sessions is an excellent way to come to a win-win agreement. As you train your developer to communicate better about his work, you train an ambassador who will promote your technical projects, both internally and externally.
Meetups are great communication opportunities that allow developers to get feedback on their work, discover new technologies and open their mind to different ways of working… They’re also an amazing showcase for hiring: when developers shine on stage, they attract other talents. Last but not least, meetups are very popular on social media. Promote your events, your speakers, and you will quickly improve your engagement rates.
Encourage them to get involved in your customer support team
The last area where you should encourage your developers to get involved is support, because they are ideally positioned to understand the audience your product is targeting. They are creating, on a daily basis, the service(s) that customers will use. They have explored every angle of each feature. They know the true potential of the software they built. They also understand the reality of user experience.
For example, the Dailymotion API team is dedicated to answer Partner’s questions. We hired a developer acting as an API support engineer. Once again, it makes sense: who is best positioned to answer developer’s questions than a dedicated one using the same technology every day, facing the same issues and thinking the same way?
To conclude, remember that your developers are a source of considerable wealth when we start to shine the spotlight on them. The tech community is in love with the idea of open source, a philosophy that encourages programmers to share their skills and experience for the love of knowledge and global improvement. Articles, social networks, meetups, support… transform the natural curiosity and the rare abilities of your developers into communication campaigns and make sure they will feel valued as you will all shine together as a company.