Why developer evangelism is more important than ever

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In today’s business world, there are quite a few titles that don’t make much sense. Let’s face it, some of them are just flat out ridiculous. But, in a world where there are Happiness Heroes, Chief Inspiration Officers, and Retail Jedis, there is one newer job title that has made a huge difference for technology companies and that job belongs to the developer evangelist.

To those unfamiliar with this position, it may sound like it belongs in the list of absurd titles. But stick around for a minute and you will see just how important it is to have this role in your company.

What is developer evangelism?

Developers are responsible for making great products. In today’s world, great products work well with other products through RSS feeds, data feeds, framework, application programming interfaces (APIs), and software development kits (SDKs).

Companies need to form strategic partnerships with other companies because they rely on the data and tools these partners have to offer to create better products for their customers.
Additionally, companies want their partners to use their technology. Every partner that relies on your company’s API, framework or SDK helps strengthen your position in the marketplace by exposing your product to more users and gathering personal information, like data and analytics. Even more important, having other people work with your products reveals new and exciting uses for them.

Developer evangelists are the people tasked with explaining their company’s technology to both technical and non-technical audiences, while pointing out the benefits of using it. According to the Developer Evangelist Handbook, these people are the ones who are responsible for tasks such as:

•    Writing code tutorials
•    Creating content, such as blogs and whitepapers
•    Public speaking
•    Training
•    Social web coverage

To sum up the job description – the developer evangelist needs to get people excited and comfortable enough with their company’s technology to put it to good use.

Is the developer evangelist role really that important?

It’s easy to look at the role of the developer evangelist and think that it is nonsensical. After all, if you build a good enough product, people will beat down your doors to get their hands on the API or the SDK, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Developer evangelism takes this role much further than good press or popularity ever can. This article explains four reasons why developer evangelism is important for your business.

Developer evangelism gets developers excited about your product

Having an army of developers applying your technology in their own products can benefit your company. But, in order to reap these benefits, you have to encourage developers to use what your technology. Developer evangelism is all about getting these developers excited to use what you have to offer. Speaking engagements and training sessions are perfect ways to showcase what you have built using unique API, frameworks, SDKs, etc. But, these are not your only options.

Another way to get people excited is to show them how using your products will make their lives easier. This is done by not only showing them what they can d, but also how they can do it. Setting up tutorials, courses, and interactive documentation are good ways to get developers comfortable. Follow up by providing support to them in-person, on the web, and via email.

It builds a community around your product

Communities help foster new, innovative ideas. Community members can discuss best practices, share solutions, and even provide support to one another. Best of all, building a community around your product helps further evangelize your offering. Better still, this type of love comes from the people who actually are using your product, not from someone paid to talk about how great it is.

It helps position your company as a thought leader

When you have people using your technology to help make their products better, you are solving a problem. If you can answer questions, foster ideas, and provide commentary in your industry, while remaining product agnostic, then you are demonstrating leadership in your field. People want to do business with industry leaders, so the reputation that your developer evangelists are able to build will translate to more customers down the road.

It gets people using your technology the right way

When people don’t use a product the right way, then it fails to deliver its intended value. After a while, someone is going to question why they chose that product or technology to begin with. Developer evangelists not only teach users how to use your products properly but also help them lay out a plan for integrating them into their business structure. When someone can share best practices, case studies, and other real life solutions, it makes a solid case for your product.

The takeaway

Developer evangelism provides a company with quite a few benefits but only if the right people are put into that role. This is not a sales or marketing role. Your developer evangelists should not be in the field promoting your brand. Rather, they should have a strong technical background and a knack for helping people solve problems and build great products.
Most importantly, for developer evangelism to work, the people in this role need to be enthusiastic about what they do and the products they work with. After all, you can’t expect them to push a product that they don’t believe in. 

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