Developer Advocacy

The Power of Content

Tanay from n8n, talks about the power of great content, including its ability to shape the culture of a developer community, and how to approach creating a meaningful content strategy from scratch.
Video

Summary:

  • Content is one of the essential pieces of the puzzle when it comes to creating a great developer experience.

  • Focus on creating an inclusive environment for the community.

  • Like companies and products, developer communities are unique as well.

    • There might be an overlap between different communities, there usually isn’t a one-size-fits-all.

  • Questions answered ..

    • How important is content to creating a great developer experience?

    • How does content help in shaping the community culture?

    • What are those first couple of things that companies should do to go about building a great community?

    • Words of wisdom for other teams starting this DX function or DevRel?

We’ve got to accept the fact that it’s a living thing, it needs attention and will never be finished. - Tanay’s view on documentation.

Scribbles:

How important is content to creating a great developer experience?

Content is one of the essential pieces of the puzzle when it comes to creating a great developer experience.

  • From a developer relations perspective, it’s the base of a lot of activities that they do.

    • Content can -

      • Help in building awareness about a product.

      • Help people get onboarded and inspire them to build something that makes an impact in their lives.

      • Helps nurture the community.

Stories that are shared by the community are often the most powerful ones to inspire other community members as well.

How does content help in shaping the community culture?

  • Focus on creating an inclusive environment for the community.

  • Every question should be treated with the same degree of respect.

  • Encourage people to ask questions, no matter how elementary they think that their question might be.

After all, if people are having issues and they’re asking basic questions, that could mean either their product’s usability can be improved or that they can provide better content or documentation for education.

  • The tone of writing reflects their approach to community management.

    • “Simply,” “easily,” “just” - don’t make it past their editorial review.

    • If not done correctly -- a great way to lose people.

    • Community adapts to things like this.

What are those first couple of things that companies should do to go about building a great community?

  • Like companies and products, developer communities are unique as well.

    • There might be an overlap between different communities, there usually isn’t a one-size-fits-all.

  • Companies make the mistake of going all-in to build a community.

    • Ask them why they’re doing that.

  • Communities can not be built with such a transactional agenda or without knowing why you’re doing that.

  • Building an audience is not the same as building a community.

Should content creation be done daily when starting from zero?

  • Daily content gets a bit too much if it’s just one person working on content.

  • Roles like developer experience or developer relations, you’ve got to do a lot of learning.

    • Especially as part of early-stage companies, product matures really quickly, new things get added, you’ve got to learn them.

  • You’ve also got to read a lot of content to get some good inspiration for things to do.

I think like daily content, if it’s just one person handling, is unfortunately a quick way to burn out.

Tactical tips for teams when it comes to creating really great docs.

  • Treat the documentation like a product.

We’ve got to accept the fact that it’s a living thing, it needs attention and will never be finished.

  • Do usability testing.

    • Can really bring out shortcomings in your docs that as an expert one might have never thought of.

  • They learned about this practice of doing usability testing from the folks at Twilio.

Words of wisdom for other teams starting this DX function or DevRel?

  • There is no one correct way of doing this.

  • Do what works best for the community.

  • Don’t be afraid to try out something radically different because it takes time to get insights into what is working and isn’t.

  • Don’t underestimate the value of such collaborations because partnerships can give rise to content that’s very interesting and helpful for both communities.

    • Content will help you reach out to folks who might not have heard of your product before.

    • Great organic way to grow developer communities.

Strategies implemented by the n8n community

  • n8n’s community initially were made from fans who tried out the product, found out that it created value for them.

  • They wanted to create a place where people can discuss automation, ask questions about n8n and get value out of it.

  • For them, the number of followers is really just a vanity metric.

  • They don’t really do traditional marketing on their social media channels but try to provide high-quality content and share things that might be helpful for their community.

n8n’s Community Focuses

  • At n8n, they have three loosely defined focuses for the content they create.

    • Onboarding

      • This helps solve the blank canvas problem.

      • Helps in solving the “what do I do next?”

    • Education

      • Talks about what powerful things you can do with certain tools or platforms, but it also covers more conceptual topics.

    • Community interviews

      • Stories that are shared by the community about how they use n8n.

Which of those three areas is or was the most challenging to start with?

  • They started off with onboarding

  • n8n has a blank canvas when you open it.

    • Editor UI where you can add notes

    • Create your workflow

  • How can I actually connect these different apps or integrations to create something meaningful? - Tanay

  • It was challenging because they have a very diverse community.

How does the n8n team act on the community feedback?

  • Feedback is really important from the perspective of what they are doing in the developer relations team.

  • They really keep an eye on this kind of feedback because it depends on that, and that correlates to basically what their content strategy would look like.

  • It doesn’t do anyone much good if they create content that nobody wants.

  • They synergise between different functions in the company to find out what is most valuable for their community.

  • Common threads around certain topics, which makes it clear what topics they need content on.

    • If they already have content on it, it gives them insights into what needs to be better.

  • They chat with their users.

  • Take part in user onboarding to give them a deeper understanding of what is the most valuable type of thing for their community.

n8n’s Tracking

  • If somebody wants a certain integration to be a part of n8n, they can open a feature request and other community members can vote on it.

    • Helps in understanding which kind of features or certain notes would be most useful for the community.

  • They also try to take more qualitative feedback when talking to the users.

What was it like to start all by yourself?

  • They had great documentation on the core part of the product.

    • A great base to build on top of.

  • Taking notes on the go about the product.

  • Ping team members to get an explanation on something.

  • Cross-posting on Dev.to and Hackernoon.

  • They realized that they were taking SEO hits by not having the blog on their domain

    • They are in the process of doing a migration away from Medium.

Dev.to, Hackernoon - for syndication, if you had to just pick one, what performs the best?

  • For n8n it was Hackernoon.

    • One can easily run into challenges with Hackernoon.

    • It needs to be really developer-focused content that performs well, their content is educational rather than marketing-focused.

  • Dev.to works really well for some companies but it really depends on how much of an audience you already have.