20 February 2023

Social, Writing

Typically used for light customer contact and announcements.

Also Known As: Facebook Groups, Twitter, Mastodon, LinkedIN

Problem: Keeping developers' attention is never easy, considering all the different tools and technologies that vie for their attention. You want your product/service to be "top of mind" to them, even if they've already purchased it or adopted it, because greater adoption means more feedback and (potentially) more activity and community. Therefore you want to keep a moderate degree of interactivity with your customers (and potential customers) with a wide reach.

Context: While you could always make use of a Newsletter, many developers already receive too much email in their inbox, and refuse to add to the pile, even for tools they use every day. It's possible, with enough budget, to purchase billboards and highway signs, but these are fairly low-"hit"-rate options, since there's no guarantee that developers will drive past them or even recognize them when they do.

Solution: Make use of the various Internet social media platforms that developers already use to notify them of Conference Sessions, to come visit the Booth at an upcoming event, interesting blog posts, Sponsorships, published Articles, the official welcome to your new Ambassadors, and so on. Use the posts as opportunities to draw some greater interactivity by following all of the current social media suggestions, like asking open-ended questions and generous re-posting of related responses, particularly from your customers.

Consequences: Deliberately choose your target social media platforms. No one social media platform is without its issues: Facebook/Meta groups and Twitter have historically been popular, but recent shifts in public perception of their corporate leadership have led large numbers of developers away from using those platforms. (Some even look down on those who continue to use them.) Instagram and TikTok are more popular with younger generations, but each has run into its own particular brand of difficulty. LinkedIn is often ignored by developers until they are looking for a job. And so on. Keep in mind that each has its own demographics and its own "culture", and choose those which most closely match that of your target persona and your company's brand and culture. Legal should be consulted around any corporate concerns or restrictions around posts.

Note that it is extremely likely (and desirable!) that individuals on the DevRel team will have their own, personal, Social Media accounts. Resist the temptation to ask the DevRel team to "be" the social media for the company, and instead create "corporate" social media accounts on each social media platform of interest.

Remember that much, if not most, of the goal of social media is interactivity, which means responding to others' social media commentary and comemnts as much as posting your own. While the DevRel team can certainly add "checking the feed" to their list of responsibilities, it will feel much more responsive if this is a part- or full-time commitment on the part of somebody within the DevRel team. They do not need to be a full Developer Advocate; in fact, it can often be a nice "half step" for a junior/associate DevRel team member to take on managing the social media community. Content (posts, etc) can be created by others, then "pipelined" for release (just as with blog posts).

Follow (and amplify) the posts of those the DevRel team (and the company as a whole) interact with: partners, Ambassadors, the User Group Network, and Sponsored Organizations. In particular make sure to draw attention to the DevRel team's activities such as Articles, Conference sessions, Webinars, Hackathons, any Books, and so on.

Keep in mind that many developers find a more "tongue-in-cheek" tone to corporate social media more attractive than formalism, so look for ways to "have a little fun" with the account without losing sight of the purpose (interactivity).

If your Social Media activities are successful, your customers will begin to rely on the channel as a way to contact the company, possibly even bypassing other (more formal) communication channels. This can allow for a greater "organic" level of communication, but might also lead your customers to bypass those channels (such as those for Technical Support, for example) in favor of the more informal world of social media. You will need to work ahead of time with the other teams inside your company to decide how you will "feed" messages from social media into their respective processes--for example, if a customer Tweets and claims to have found a bug, how will that Tweet be turned into a ticketed bug report?


Tags: devrel   patterns