How Developer Relations Can Help You Build a Better Video Workflow
As a company that makes a workflow collaboration product with a public API, it’s important for us to actively engage with the developers who use it—not just because we can help them improve their post-production workflows, but also because they (by which we mean you) help us push our product further.
That’s why we’ve put a developer relations advocate in place here at Frame.io. But what does that really mean? What does a developer relations advocate actually do?
The short answer is that what I do is key to establishing a plan that allows us to build a vibrant, inclusive developer community around our API—because if you help us make a product that you can use better, we all win.
And if you’re thinking about starting a developer relations program at your company, I’ll give you some insight into how we’re doing it at Frame.io that might be helpful for you.
Laying the groundwork
For me, the first step in building an effective developer relations program is to get a thorough understanding of Frame.io’s product offerings. I began by listening to the company’s internal community and reviewing content they created, the existing customer community, and learning everything possible about the Frame.io API and the many surrounding tools for working with it. Some of the options include:
Building a collaborative, inclusive plan that’s best suited to a company’s unique needs means genuinely believing in your product, and being supported by a strong vision from your developer relations team.
At Frame.io, nothing is more important to us than delivering a product that our customers love to use, so I also get substantial input and support from our product and engineering teams. And because we have a number of strategic product partnerships, the team I’m part of works with our marketing and sales teams, as well.
The skill set
The wide variety of people a developer relations team works with make the core skills of developer relations advocate a little hard to define. Different skill sets may be more or less important depending on a given company’s particular needs.
I’ve found that understanding marketing, having technical abilities, strong verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to know when to ask for help or to delegate are all necessary. Additionally, empathy, which is generally considered a soft skill, is key.
At Frame.io, one of our core values is being a customer expert, and if you can empathize with developers trying to use the API, you can better understand their obstacles or frustrations and work more effectively and collaboratively to address their challenges.
The basic plan
Building a robust developer relations plan is based on moving developers through four phases by convincing them to:
- Try your product (at Frame.io, this includes both our web app and our API)
- Use your product’s API
- Share your product with other developers
- Join your developer community
Throughout the process, we refine the plan by using metrics to track progress through each phase. Metrics and their value will vary by company, but can include:
- Consistency of output
- Views on docs, projects, and blog posts
- How often your API is used
- How often the API is used for different types of tasks
- Sign-ups for services, such as trying out your API
We’ll talk more about metrics, what to choose, and what options you have in a future article. Keep in mind that if a developer relations plan is new for your company, you may need to try different strategies to see what works best. Focusing on metrics and process is key to ensuring your plan’s success.
The building blocks
In addition to planning, key tasks for developer relations fall into four major areas:
- Content and code samples
- Events and presentations
- Community management (forums, emails, in-person connections)
- Strategic partnerships
Content and Code Samples
Content includes assets like blog posts about developers building with your API, guest posts from developers sharing something they built, code samples and tutorials explaining how to use the API, and thought-leadership pieces about developer relations.
Events and Presentations
Common events you’ll attend (or arrange) include hackathons, conferences, and networking events. Hackathons are great for collecting feedback on how developers understand and use your API. You can quickly find out what works and doesn’t work with your API and its documentation when developers need to go through the process of signing up and working with it during the hackathon.
Also, attending conferences and networking events are important for networking, keeping up on complementary technology, and giving presentations on behalf of your company.
Community management includes reaching out to your company’s developer audience through email, forums, and online content. It also ties in with content creation since you can use content to drive interest in sign ups for your community. A key part of community management is creating your own developer forum. Visit our forum, the Frame.io Developer Community.
Strategic partnerships focus on establishing relationships with other companies where the combination of your APIs and services are mutually beneficial. Someone from developer relations might be involved in finding the right companies to work with, or be directly involved in integrating the APIs and arranging resources to build what’s necessary. These partnerships help developers get started with their integrations more quickly and can improve brand recognition over time.
A notable example for us was when we launched our integration with DaVinci Resolve 16. We did our own marketing around it, of course, but when Blackmagic Design announced it, we received even more visibility through third-party stories like this one.
The challenges and benefits of developer relations
If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is—and developer relations advocates can be prone to burnout as a result. So, while there are four major areas, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a productive plan that’s more focused and manageable.
For example, if you have a smaller team, concentrate your efforts on one or two areas that will be the most meaningful for your company. You can determine what’s having the most impact by tracking metrics such as readership, sign-ups, how many people join your forum, the number of questions they ask, and API usage. Part of your work is figuring out when and where to apply these metrics.
At Frame.io, our developer relations program serves a twofold benefit. Internally, it helps those within the company better understand the API and how it can be leveraged to maximize our user’s experiences and the functionality of our product. Externally, it helps us grow our business as we become more trusted as partners and thought leaders in the industry.
Creating a developer relations program isn’t something that happens instantly. It takes a fair amount of work to seed and it needs to propagate over time. But as we’ve seen at Frame.io, the investment pays off for us and our customers, as we build better relationships and a better product.
Watch these blog for more developer relations content. And if you have anything you’d like to share with us, please reach out in our developer forum.