20 February 2023

Code, Social, Budget

Also Known As: Twitch. Vimeo.

Problem: You want your DevRel team to get more "face time" (a high degree of interactivity) with customers in a coding-related activity but without them having to travel to conferences. You'd like them to do something that has a high degree of Reach, but Webinars or recorded YouTube videos are too one-way to generate the interactivity you'd like.

Context: Developers often like seeing the people behind or around a particular technology--more than one company has found some significant value in having a "face" to their brand, creating something of a "developer rock star" that draws a crowd during events (physical or online). Doing so requires developers to be able to see the individual on a regular basis, and feel like there is some kind of emotional connection to them, which usually implies a high degree of interaction.

This high degree of interactin is often more easily facilitated by choosing a setting that is more informal than formal; developers feel more comfortable approaching someone at a User Group meeting than approching the speaker after a Conference.

It is also (contrary to most popular beliefs) endearing to developers to see people they respect struggle with certain situations or problems; it makes the observed individual seem more human (and therefore more approachable). It can also be instructive to see how other developers approach problems while still struggling with a solution, rather than seeing the "finished product" that usually appears in a Sample/Example

Solution: Use on of the "live streaming" platforms (Twitch, Vimeo, YouTube) to capture informal, longer-form video. Live streaming is similar in tooling to the Webinar, but the "vibe" is very different--where webinars are more formal presentation-like affairs, often intended to be one-way (with some interactivity in the form of questions from the audience), live streaming often is much more ad hoc, with streamers frequently seemingly doing nothing more than "turning on the camera and starting to code something interesting".

Topics for the live stream can range widely; some live-streamers have no agenda other than "I'm going to code something today that I've never built before" to show participants their process when building, including mistakes, while other live-streamers have a more focused agenda.

Consequences: Interactivity in a Live Stream is often very high, as the various streaming platforms allow for comments, as well as "likes" and other emoji-fueled effects to appear on the screen during the stream. Streamers will often take their efforts in different directions based on the commentary and reactions from participants, including suggestions on what to do next, how to solve a particular problem, or even collaborate to solve a bug or other issue. (Note that most streaming platforms only allow the streamer to display their video and audio, so all commentary from participants is done through chat messages to the stream as a whole.)

Because of the nature of displaying both the streamer's screen and the streamer's video simultaneously or side-by-side, streaming requires some investment into equipment and a good Internet connection. This usually means it is difficult to do anywhere except in "the studio" (sually the streamer's home or work office), and will thus conflict with travel schedules somewhat. (Some streamers have worked to make their streaming setups portable so that they can stream from hotels while on the road, but this is yet somewhat rare, at least as of this writing.)

Recordings of the live-stream often don't need much by way of editing (although it should be reviewed before publication, in case there is a violation of the company's code-of-conduct to avoid legal liability), but do need to be stored someplace publicly accessible. YouTube is a common place to store these, for the same reasons it is useful to store Podcasts.

Keep in mind that the live-stream is, as the name implies, live, and participants on the stream may turn out to be malicious individuals with goals that differ from yours (and, more importantly, are a violation of your code of conduct or not emblematic of the image your company wants to present). The live-streamer will need to be ready to handle those situations, moderating and/or removing those individuals as needed.

Your company may also have certain concerns around the potential liabilities of live-streaming and the potential dangers of an "open mic", so you may want or need to run the idea past Legal beforehand.


Tags: devrel   patterns