Audience Discovery Basics

Finding the right channels to distribute content to your audience relies entirely on how well you know your target audience. It’s almost always the first step for any marketing strategy. Where do your developers find technical content?

Starting With Who

You don’t necessarily need a detailed persona to get started, but you do need a reasonably good description of your primary target audience. Questions that you have probably answered in developing your content audience personas, which apply to selecting distribution channels, include:

  • Technology/expertise. What is the primary technical expertise of your audience?
  • Experience. What level of experience are you trying to reach?
  • Age. Age can be very closely related to experience, but not always.
  • Applications. What application is your audience most interested in?
  • Stack. What stack is your primary audience most likely using?

Getting From Who To Where

What’s the easiest way to find out where your audience is? Once you’ve defined it, just ask!

Interview your audience. This is tried and true! It can be in-person or via a survey, but to get info you need, ask a sample of your target audience.

  • Use third-party data. Slash Data and Evans Data Corporation offer surveys of audiences by technology. Evans has an annual Developer Marketing Survey that gathers data relevant to advertisers and marketers for this audience.
  • Ask your product development team. If the audience is comprised of developers similar to your own programmers, they can help steer you in the right direction.
  • Search. Just like your audience, search for the problems/solutions that your content addresses and offers. See where your competitors are.
  • Listening platforms. You can either get one specifically for developers, like Weavr AI, or customize the channels you listen to using a more standard PR tool like Meltwater or Cision.

Channels That Attract Developers

Search. Do not underestimate the power of search and SEO for your owned distribution platform to drive developers to your content. Developers like Alice Brosey trust search engine results because content that is ranked highly by SERP is usually developer-friendly. (It’s succinct and easily searchable.)

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D2D Communities. These are communities of developers often organized around a certain tool, application, or platform. Select the D2D communities to monitor based on influence and relevance to your content marketing campaign goals. Examples of popular D2D communities, according to the developers surveyed by Evans Data Corporation, include CodeProject, StackOverflow, CNET, ComputerWorld, and dev.to.

Developer Influencers. A developer influencer is a regular developer that walks as a celebrity in the developer world. They have a position, an outlet, and an audience. Examples include developer rock stars like Ted Neward, Jeff Fritz, Scott Hanselman, and Alvin Ashcraft. Ideally, your content is compelling enough to deserve a mention as part of a developer influencer’s blog post or other curated content. It might show up in the comments on these sites. It pays to identify and target the developer influencers your audience listens to, and monitor comments and content for mentions of your campaign’s content.

Media-Specific Platforms. Media platforms are those platforms that share content based on the form of the content. Think YouTube (which has developer-specific channels many developers go to to view tutorials and how-to’s) for videos; Twitch for live-streaming content for gamers and developers; Medium and Blogger for text (including developer-specific blogs), and Quora for Q&A content.

Social Networks. Developers use social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for professional and personal pursuits. Data from Evans Data Corporation suggests that using Facebook is more popular than Twitter and LinkedIn.  And even better news for brands —  almost as many developers follow social media channels that are associated with a vendor’s products (hello, owned content) as a third-party industry analyst’s page.  Additionally, it’s clear from asking developers that many developers find technical content from those that they follow on Twitter.

Curation Platforms. These are platforms that don’t require new content but allow community members to post existing, attributed content to generate or respond to discussions. They can be completely developer-specific, like Hacker News, or have developer-specific forums like Reddit. The curated items are community-contributed to promote conversation, often through controversy.

Vendor Blogs. According to Evans Data Corporation and the results found in their Developer Marketing 2019 survey, when it comes to new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), vendors’ blogs and outlets carry a surprising amount of street cred with developers.

Vendor Developer Communities. Even if your developer community is different than your customer community, the content hosted there (particularly if it is open source) is likely to attract the attention of developer audiences. Why? Ideally, your developer portal or technical resource hub includes the content that best supports developers — a strategic mix of technical blog posts, white papers, how-to’s, tutorials, case studies, and of course, documentation.

Developer Newsletters. Most developers subscribe to programming-related newsletters, and many of those not owned by brands offer display advertising and other advertising options that are appealing to developers. The most significant advantage of placing content in newsletters? Developers grant their permission to receive your content (or click on an ad for content).

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Persona Points The Way

Undoubtedly, you know your audience best. But if you are unsure of which channels are most effective at reaching them, particularly when it comes to technical content, you can find answers if you don’t have them already. Besides just asking your audience, there are a number of resources you can turn to for a data-based framework. Finally, check out the many channels popular with developers, and look for your developer tribe and where they are sharing information.

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