Most people think developers are a quiet bunch. And while studies show they rank low in extraversion, there’s one group of people they love to talk with: other developers.

That’s why creating a community of developers around your product is key if you sell to this persona. Your marketing isn’t going to help them make a buying decision; but their peers’ opinions will.

To create vocal evangelists, tech brands need to find authentic ways to get developers to advocate for them. Database platform MongoDB already had a strong developer community, but were looking to leverage these relationships in a scalable way. So, they launched a structured advocacy program for their top developers, called the MongoDB Advocacy Hub.

In the program, MongoDB fosters further community building and brand advocacy by offering educational content and networking opportunities to its top customers. MongoDB also recognizes their advocates for contributions to the community and rewards them with professional development opportunities—a formula that has turned their most enthusiastic developers into vocal evangelists. As a result, MongoDB has rapidly grown brand awareness and developer adoption for its products.

We recently chatted with Douglas Duncan, a database administrator in the program, to find out what drives him to participate.

The perks of being a developer advocate

Douglas_Duncan1. It makes him feel valued. Doug has always enjoyed showing other developers how to better use MongoDB’s full suite of products. “MongoDB has got a great product, and it works very well,” he says.

So, when he was invited into the program, he felt appreciated and special. “Originally, the advocate marketing program was invite-only,” says Doug. “So, getting in on the ground floor with this new way of interacting with their other customers made me feel like, ‘Hey, we truly value you as a person and as a user.’”

2. He enjoys learning and sharing content with the community. Doug loves participating in engaging advocate challenges where he gets to read and share product-related blog posts with his connections on social media. “It connects you not only to MongoDB, but to the developer community at large,” he says. “Being a part of that is always fun, just to see where the product is going and how other people are using it.”

He also likes that he can gain access to MongoDB’s developers and staff who run the program. “It’s about connecting with the MongoDB team and other advocates who use the product.”

3. The program is professionally rewarding. Doug collects points for completing advocacy challenges, which he can use to redeem for rewards like branded swag (so he can show his MongoDB pride). However, he also appreciates that the program has professionally-valuable rewards, too. “MongoDB also offers rewards like a 30-minute speaker coaching session, and a 30-minute chat with Andrew Erlichson [Senior VP of Engineering at MongoDB] — which could help further my career.”

3. It’s a win-win situation for MongoDB and its advocates. Doug doesn’t usually like being the center of attention, but he does appreciate the opportunities MongoDB has offered him for going outside of his comfort zone and advocating for the brand. “It’s a two-way street, so I don’t mind being in a blog post about the product anymore,” says Doug.

Tips for engaging developers

Advocate marketing programs can help develop loyal advocates (like Doug) and connect your brand with other potential customers in the developer community. However, it’s important to know how developers like to be treated.

• Be honest and get to the point. Developers are busy people, and they don’t want to hear a lot of “marketing speak” about why you want them to advocate on your behalf. You’re more likely to gain their trust if you are transparent and direct about what you want.

• Don’t make them feel uncomfortable. Many developers dislike being in the spotlight. So, don’t make them feel obligated to complete challenges that involves being the center of attention. Give them a variety of tasks so they can act as advocates in ways that make them comfortable.

• They love to compete. Developers enjoy a little friendly competition. If you can gamify your requests (like by using points or a leaderboard), developers will jump at the chance to participate. If you make your advocacy challenges fun—but still relevant to their interests—they won’t be able to resist.