What Is A Developer Community?
We’re defining a developer community as a place where developers congregate to build their skills, get questions answered, and share information to help other developers. If it sells advertising, it is probably not associated with a brand or vendor, but is associated with a particular application, language, tool or technology. Because the strength of the community is based on the interaction between community members, we like to refer to these communities as developer-to-developer (D2D) communities.
The Advantage Of Reaching D2D Communities
D2D communities are popular with developers because they can share and obtain information they need to do their work or improve their skills. They can be as much tech infotainment as tech info. They each have their own culture. That culture is likely being actively managed, but it also is shifting and growing just as the developers and technology do. The advantage of placing your advertising in D2D communities is that you can focus on clarifying your message, and know that it will reach the right audience.
As the D2D community shifts organically, you will reach the new types of developers that are constantly springing up with every developer innovation. What’s hot now will not be hot forever, but with developers constantly shaping their own environment, you can focus on your own messaging and relax about targeting.
Another important advantage is that developers welcome brands that support their favorite community. They may even do something wild, like turn off their ad blockers. Really. Developer Michael Washington voices what many developers think —He appreciates that vendor advertising keeps his favorite community, Morning Dew, up and running.
Finally, developers appreciate receiving vendor information in the context of seeking information about their work. Developers like Mark Downie think context is everything. Don’t disrupt their personal life by showing up in ads while they are perusing pictures from family and friends. Show up where they expect to see vendors — where they discuss their work.
Advertising Principles for D2D Communities
To successfully advertise developer tools to a skeptical audience, you need to have a laser-sharp message. Ad campaigns that help developers find and understand tools that will help them are perceived by developers as useful. This provokes the question, “What gives developers a positive experience with advertising?” There is no guarantee, but focusing on the following advertising principles will certainly help reward your D2D advertising campaigns with success.
There are as many D2D communities as there are technologies and applications. Your first step is finding the communities that your audience frequents. Sometimes it is easy — The community is based entirely on a specific technology or programming language. Other times, it’s difficult, and the community is based on breadth, and not necessarily depth. Spending some time seeking out the D2D communities your audience is likely to populate before launching an ad campaign is an important first step to success.
If you learn nothing else from reading this blog, learn this — Do not use popup advertising to reach developers. Ever. Your best bet is static banner ads. Something that is eye-catching, but not intrusive.
Banner ads can exist on a D2D website. But don’t ignore another, very personal way to reach developers, in the context of their community. Another powerful way to engage with D2D communities is newsletters.
Developers understand that information comes with a price. They don’t mind viewing your ad in an email they asked to receive.
Developers understand that to receive something they will value, like technical content or a trial, they will need to give up some information. They are willing to give you an email. But, don’t take their phone number and harass them. It may make your inside sales team feel good, but it makes your brand look bad. Check out our developer interviews to see how developers feel about having to give up more than an email.
Stick to clear messages that are accurate about what you are advertising, and why it is useful and important to developers. You can be clever and use storytelling elements to convey your message. Just make sure that the message is not misleading about the offer and the experience of claiming it. For example, don’t say “free,” and then ask for a credit card.
It’s that simple. Show a little respect for your skeptical technical audience and you can get some right back. By reaching out to developers with advertising in D2D communities, you are more likely to reach your target audience in a time and place where they are receptive to hearing from vendors. When you do reach out, just stick to some common sense principles to avoid alienating your basically willing audience. For more details on how to create successful advertising campaigns in D2D communities, check out our ebook, “D2D Marketing: An Advertising Guide.”