Be Real: How Developer-Focused Startups Create Authentic Content

Being able to take those real problems that you notice when talking to real [developers] and turn that into content. That's the best type of content.

Be Real: How Developer-Focused Startups Create Authentic Content
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash
“Being able to take those real problems that you notice when talking to real [developers] and turn that into content. That's the best type of content.”  
- Adam DuVander speaking on the Scaling DevTools podcast

What is good content?

Developers are tired of being sold-to by marketers. All they want is to find a solution to their current crisis, then move on to the next topic on their to-do list. That’s the reality.

As DuVander, founder of and the author of “Developer Marketing Does Not Exist,” says in the quote above, good content solves developer’s real problems. Good companies listen carefully to their audience’s questions and provide superior answers.

Your content must connect with developers emotionally, but not as a cynical stunt or manipulation. Instantly, your audience will see through such tricks. Human connections are based on trust. To be trusted, you must be honest and genuinely helpful.

As a small startup, you don’t have to have all the answers. Just be truthful about how your company solves the issues your customers experience. Future sales will come with the knowledge—and emotional trust—that your attentive listening and helpful responses generate through your content. This process is known as “adding value.”

In short: Be real. Be authentic.

What is authentic content?

It’s important to realize that “content” refers not only to blog posts and social media messaging. Content, in this context, also means documentation, digital media, FAQs, press releases—essentially any communication with your audience.

Here is a useful definition of authentic content. According to, Larry Alton says:

“Authentic content can be defined as any type of brand-generated content that attempts to add genuine value and service to the reader without trick or manipulation. The entire goal of authentic content is to add value first and to sell second. The idea is that if you lead with value and give away your best stuff for free, you’ll never have any trouble monetizing readers in the long run.”

What does ‘Be Real’ mean for you?

It is always uncomfortable to stick your neck out and tell potential customers the blunt truth. But you certainly don’t need to write tell-all exposés about your personal life! Instead, you must be clear about which problems your product or service solves and how you solve them better than other products or services.

SEMrush, a company whose SEO app I use as a developer, held a Twitter chat on authentic marketing. One tweet by MarCommRodin, stated, “Inauthentic content is boring, it’s like being lectured at. Authentic content should be more of a conversation, it speaks to a question [a real person] actually asked.”

Again, being real means talking to Developers, asking them what problems they have, and providing the solutions they are seeking. Being real is not about product or service descriptions. It’s about connecting with developer’s needs.

It takes courage and hard work to accomplish this, but your customers will appreciate it and show you brand loyalty.

How does being authentic help my business?

There are many advantages to producing authentic content. Authentic content increases:

•  site traffic

•  user engagement

•  audience reach

•  branding recognition

•  your online presence

•  your SEO domain and page authority

•  customer loyalty to your brand

How do you create authentic content?

Understand your brand’s core values. If you don’t know what you stand for, you can’t connect with the audience that will resonate with your values. By consistently sharing your brand’s values, you grow a loyal following of like-minded developers.

Understand your audience’s problems. By genuinely understanding the developers who share your brand’s values, you know what pain points they endure. By asking them directly, you learn what issues they have that your company can address.

Connect to developers. Don’t merely describe your product, then put your hand out for money. Offer compelling answers to customers’ questions—even giving away some of your best stuff for free—and your brand will develop a following for life.

Have measurable goals. You’re running a business. Metrics and analytics are necessary to learn if your authentic content is working. Know what precise results you expect from every piece of content, then measure to see if that content meets your goals.

Have calls to action. A call to action does not mean annoying pop ups. Its function is to guide the reader through the proper procedures to solve their problems. At the end of each step of the process you call them to action–such as trying out your new API or search tool–then following through on the next step. The result is a well-thought-out path to your customer’s success.

Have a consistent message across content and platforms. Consistency is crucial. Developers notice inconsistencies quickly, then talk about them negatively on social media—clearly something you want to avoid. Ensure that your central brand message is on point and consistent across all content.

Provide measurable value to your current and potential customers. Adam DuVander, cited in the opening quote, also adds: “You’ve started your company for a reason. What problems do you solve really well? Zero in and explain those problems in a way that will resonate with a developer. This resonance applies whether talking in person or online via search results, Hacker News, or however you’re amplifying it.”

Problem solved

As we said—Be real. Be authentic. Create authentic content and share it with your audience. If you want to learn more about Developer Marketing, sign up for our weekly newsletter


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Written by Don Hamilton, founder of UsefulWriter

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