How technical founders create content to engage with their communities
For many startup founders, the idea of 'creating content' seems daunting. But it's not as far off a strategy as you think. As part of our Founder2Founder series, we spoke with Roni Dover, CTO and Founder of Digma, for insights about how startup founders can create content to engage with their tech communities. Roni has been writing articles, participating in online developer communities and speaking at events since co-founding his DevOps startup, Digma.ai.
Digma is the first Continuous Feedback platform that helps software developers see their code in a brand new light. With evidence-based methods, Digma aims to empower developers to own their code through to production, close the information gap between developers and their users, and enable developers to ship better code and documentation.
Really, Digma is all about good, two-way communication between developers and the company. So, from the start, creating helpful, authentic content for the tech community was a priority for Roni. He’s worked extremely hard to find the right type of content, to understand what works and what doesn't, and to get himself — a self-proclaimed introvert — to be comfortable writing blog posts and speaking at conferences.
Roni shares all his best tips for creating content as a technical startup founder. Watch the full interview or keep reading for our favorite insights.
1. How to get started creating engaging content to promote your tech startup
When you start creating content, it can feel overwhelming — especially if you aren’t a natural extrovert. Therefore, going with your strengths and interests is the easiest place to start. For example, if you get energized by an audience, start by looking for speaking opportunities. Or, if you're better at writing, start by leveraging your writing.
Once you choose your arena, the key is to create content with humility and leave your ego at the door. Creating content can be a great way to promote your tech startup to the community, but it is important to do it the right way. Instead of announcing your product to the world in a didactic or preachy way, try to be very honest, conversational, and humble in your message.
When starting a business, it can be extremely hard to go from zero social media presence to having a large following. It can be especially hard to do it alone! Therefore, Roni recommends a technique that worked very well for him: reach out to people you respect in the industry and ask them for feedback.
When he was just starting out, Roni sent his writing to about 20 influential people whom he admired. Most did not reply, but those who took the time provided him great feedback and happily shared his content and supported him after the fact.
For speaking engagements, Roni recommends creating your talk and sending it to as many events as possible. Great websites, such as Sessionize and PaperCall, can help you discover relevant events and submit your talks.
Whether you are just starting blog writing or public speaking, prepare yourself for a lot of rejection but don’t get disparaged. Make sure your content is strong, accept feedback where you can, and keep trying.
2. How to get your content distributed to the tech community
A great medium to get your message across is website media because they already have established viewership. Find relevant publications where you’d like your work to appear and talk to the publication editor. If you get accepted, that will help you start off with better exposure than posting it yourself.
Once your writing is published, you can use many channels to distribute your message further. For example, Reddit and Twitter can be great places to share content. If you’re posting somewhere like Reddit, just be careful to familiarize yourself with the rules and customs of the channel to avoid getting kicked out.
It can be easy to feel some imposter syndrome when posting on these sites but stick with it! As long as you stay humble and earnestly connect with your audience instead of just being self-promoting, your message will eventually connect with the right people and they’ll engage in the conversation. Instead of sending a message like, “here’s why my company is awesome,” lead with a message about why you are so passionate about what you do and why you care so much about it. If people hear your passion, they’ll be interested too.
3. How tech founders can participate in the tech community
Building communities is hard and takes time. It's something that doesn't happen overnight. But when communities are successful, they usually form around a common problem. Many company founders say they want to build community, but many people forget that people need to have something to actually gain from joining the community. Get in touch with their common problems or pains and find solutions for them.
As in-person meet-ups return, attending and speaking at meetups can be some of the strongest community-building events. They give you the opportunity to engage with a lot of people, and it also gives people the opportunity to point you towards what they need. Engaging with people face-to-face in this way can create a lot of meaningful connections. But again, it is important to engage with people in a very humble and unassuming way.
4. How to define and measure success with tech content creation
While much of the world gets caught up in metrics and data, sometimes it is better to measure success qualitatively instead of quantitatively.
A successful speaking engagement does not always have huge attendance numbers or directly lead to a huge traffic spike online. Sometimes a speaking engagement is successful because of amazing one-on-one interactions or insightful feedback.
Remember, great content and communication is always a 2-way street, and it is important to listen to what people in your community have to say. Speaking engagements can be a great way to ask a huge, random sample of people for information, insights, and feedback that can help enrich your content and business strategy.
5. How to avoid rookie content mistakes as a startup founder
It is so important to understand the rules of each place that you post to or speak at. People can be quick to love things, but they can also be quick to hate things. Therefore, you need to be very careful about how you position yourself in the community and be sure to follow all community rules and norms. Overall, just try to be respectful.
Another rookie mistake is simply not creating content. If you're a founder and believe in something but don’t write a blog post about it or speak to people regularly, then you're probably doing something wrong. If you're standing on the sidelines instead of engaging your audience, you’ll miss out on many insights and connections. You're not alone if you don't feel comfortable doing these things, but don't let that stop you.
Learn more from other tech founders
For more information about how startup founders can create content to engage with their tech communities, follow our Founder2Founder series on LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel.