28 February 2023


Also Known As: Champions; MVPs; Experts; Heroes

Problem: You want to extend the reach of your efforts, beyond its current form, and in particular have a stronger presence in certain communities in which you currently have no representation or identity.

Context: Your hiring budget is limited and your team is already stretched to the limits of their bandwidth.

Solution: Find people within your existing community (by examining your Forums or by speaking with interested parties at your booth at conferences) who are active, well-informed on your product/service, and eager to be more active. Create a program by which they will have certain identity ("Ambassadors", "Heroes", etc), and offer benefits to being a part of the program: provide them with Swag; give them early access to some of your next steps and company pursuits; create "direct channels"--meetings between the Ambassadors and company executives--for feedback and news; have Ambassadors write for your Newsletter; assist Ambassadors in finding Conference Sessions; put them center stage at your own Conference; assist them in the writing of a Book. Ambassadors can even be given opportunities to blog and/or contribute samples or Reference Documentation, if the docs are managed via Git/GitHub. Ambassadors are also exellent help in starting or growing a User Group Network.

Consequences: Creating an extension of your DevRel team like this will almost certainly necessitate one of your team to the care-and-feeding (management) of the Ambassadors, including managing communications with them and setting expectations.

It will be extremely difficult to find metrics to the activities of the Ambassadors, so it's strongly likely that at some point after their foundation there will be a call to shut the program down in order to save money if there aren't obvious and visible benefits to doing so. Make strong efforts to keep the Ambassadors' activities front-and-center to the rest of the company, so that anyone can see the positives of the program without having to see numbers.

Sad as it may seem, not all of the Ambassadors will agree with one another, and it is almost certain that as the longevity of the program increases, and/or its size, two Ambassadors will disagree--publicly. Your brand will suffer the longer this drama continues, so be prepared: Create a Code of Conduct early, describing what is and is not tolerated, and enforce it when violations occur, either by gentle admonishment, stern warning, or outright removal from the program.

Tags: devrel   patterns