6 Blogging Tips to Engage the Tech Practitioner Audience

I have a tough question for you; and be honest with your response.

To all you tech marketers, would your devs and engineers want to read the content you’re putting out?

And to all you techies, do you find the “technical blogs” your company publishes engaging?

If you answered “no” or hesitated, it’s time to rethink your tech content strategy. 

In the age of DevRel, it’s essential that the content you produce be relevant to a deep tech audience. Let’s look at how you can achieve that.


1. Don’t Try to Kill Two Birds with One Stone

Choose your main target audience and tailor your content exclusively to them. A common tech content pitfall is to attempt to cover multiple target audiences—each of which may have varying levels of technical knowledge on the specific topic—within the same piece. 

But by trying to cover them all—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—you risk losing readers.

Say you need to write a blog about Kubernetes updates for senior DevOps engineers. Don’t bore the reader with an intro on the basics of how to update a containerized app with a new software version. An advanced K8s user would immediately lose interest. Instead, a topic such as how to customize a Kubernetes update might be more relevant, and you should jump right into that.

For an intermediate audience, you might write about how to implement ingress in Kubernetes and review various ingress solutions and their use cases.

If you do need to appeal to a wider audience of both novices and experts (think “The Ultimate Guide to…”), splitting your piece into a series will allow you to cover the basics in the first part/s and then take a deeper dive in the subsequent part/s. 

For example, in this two-part series, the first blog is a Terraform 101; the second covers Terraform use cases and is geared for slightly more experienced users.


2. Get R&D (and Your C-Suite) on Board

Get the people who are using/would use your product to write for you. While this isn’t news, trying to get your devs and engineers involved in your content production is sometimes easier said than done. So here are some tips to encourage their involvement in your content marketing efforts and to streamline the process:

  • Get buy-in from your executives: Before reaching out to R&D, get your top management and C-levels on board to help ensure the tech team’s involvement and dedication to your content program.
  • Create a roster of writers from your R&D team: Rotate between them and let them pitch their own topics (or choose from a list of topics). 
  • Put your developers’ names in the byline: This will motivate them to contribute and make them more committed to your content marketing efforts.
  • SME + tech marketing writer/technical editor: If your R&D team members don’t have the writing skills, pair them with one of your marketing writers and/or a professional technical editor.
  • Establish a review board: If your devs are simply too busy with product and the pressure for fast release cycles to write, at the very least, get them involved in reviews. Every piece of technical content you publish should go through a tech review, even if it’s “just SEO content.” And if they can’t handle that, make sure to have a board of external technical reviewers in place.

But remember, your R&D team members know tech; they aren’t necessarily in tune with your company’s marketing goals. It’s the tech marketer’s job to guide and educate them here:

  • Explain your target audience.
  • Indicate the technical proficiency level of your target audience (novice techie, intermediate, experienced practitioner, etc.).
  • Explain your production process so they know what to expect and what’s expected of them.

3. Be Authentic

When building your tech content strategy, don’t just do your SEO research. Check what’s trending on the forums your users are in such as StackOverflow, GitHub, and relevant Reddit threads. And of course talk to your R&D team members for insights.

And to all you devs and engineers reading this, if marketing asks you to write fluff or about a topic/s that wouldn’t be practical for your technical audience, don’t be afraid to push back!

Your readers want to hear your authentic story to understand how it could apply to their use case. For example, don’t just write a general blog post about the challenges of keeping storage costs down in AWS that’s been replicated a million times. Instead:

  • Talk about your specific use case: What were you using the platform or tool for? What were you trying to achieve?
  • Share your challenges: Share your “horror” story. Recount and reflect upon the mistakes you made along the way. This shows you’re human and makes your story more authentic and appealing.
  • Share how you resolved the issue: What solutions did you rely on? Your readers will be able to relate to your struggle more and will be more likely to convert.

Authenticity is key, but remember, there is room for a little poetic license when writing a technical blog. Oftentimes, a developer or engineer will say, “But I haven’t experienced this particular issue personally,” or that they didn’t encounter all of the challenges they’re being asked to write about at the same time. But remember, the goal is to help your users. So it’s okay to be creative and to embellish a little.

This could mean creating a composite story: 

  • Writing about issues you encountered on separate occasions as if they had happened together.
  • Combining your own experiences with those of your R&D team members (with their permission) as if it were your personal story.
  • Writing about common issues developers experience as if they happened to you, even if you haven‘t experienced them personally.

All of that is okay as long as the content is technically sound and original (not plagiarized or paraphrased).


4. Ensure Readability and Practicality

Readability is important. While marketing professionals know all about SEO best practices (e.g., white space; breaking down text with clear headings, bullets, and images and screenshots), techies, who are used to writing long code blocks, may not have this in mind. 

Provide clear writing guidelines to the R&D team members creating your content, and make sure someone from the marketing team and/or professional technical editor reviews their work. 

Advise your tech writers to make every sentence and paragraph matter and to avoid filler text and generic, lengthy intros that may state the obvious or use outdated comments (e.g., how cloud has “taken the world by storm” or referring to general, over-cited statistics about cloud usage). Even devs, because they aren’t writers, are sometimes guilty of tacking these types of intros and conclusions on to their articles, thinking it will make them more readable. But doing so only risks losing your readers from the first paragraph, before they can get to the valuable info.

Instead, consider opening with a relatable problem, for example: “So I was struggling to integrate our new scanning security tool in our pipeline.”

Make sure to include code snippets where relevant and make them copy-pastable (not images) so they can be easily applied, as in this tutorial on how to set up Lambda using the AWS CLI. It may take more time to format in WordPress but can generate significantly more traffic.

With jeans and a t-shirt staples of the developer dress code, it’s no surprise that using a more casual tone in your blogs will generally appeal more to a technical audience. Also, keep in mind that not all readers will be native English speakers, so keep the language relatively simple.


5. Keep Up with the Everchanging Tech Landscape

Keep on top of news and trending topics:

  • Stay on top of open-source developments: The nature of open source means new contributions are constantly being added. R&D teams rely heavily on open-source products and platforms (e.g., MySQL; Apache Spring; and the leading cryptography library OpenSSL). Make sure your marketing teams are keeping up to date with GitHub news & updates.
  • Keep up with CVEs: Make sure your R&D team lets you know if there are any CVEs that could be affecting your product or users. If, for example, a CVE is discovered in an open-source product that your users might also be using, writing a blog about it to let your customers know why you weren’t affected or how you resolved it immediately can show you’re proactive.
  • Follow thought leaders/influencers: Following major influencers in your field is a given, but don’t overlook micro-influencers as well.

Internally, you can also:

  • Monitor technical channels: Make sure someone from marketing is monitoring the technical channels on your collaboration tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams in order to look for relevant and timely topics to inspire new content, whether for your blog or for sales enablement.
  • Regular meetings with R&D: Hold regular (even weekly) brainstorming sessions with your R&D team members. While this is often handled by the product marketing team, company PMMs are in high demand and don’t always have the time to devote to generating blog content.
  • Streamline processes: Get timely content out quickly and ensure a regular publishing cadence by streamlining content production so your processes don’t slow you down (clear production process, designated reviewers, not too many stakeholders). R&D teams are overloaded, meaning content often gets stuck in tech review. Create a content committee with designated roles, including designated tech and marketing reviewers.
  • Conduct regular content audits: Apply the principles of asset management to your blog content by keeping it up to date and removing and/or revising what’s no longer relevant (e.g., covering the newest software/database versions, new features, etc.). This can also present opportunities to repurpose your content, saving you time and effort in the long run.


6. Be Wary of GenAI Tools

A marketing director once told me about a successful startup in the cybersec space that was failing with their content. Generating little to no leads from their blog, they decided to bring her on hoping to turn things around. She soon discovered they were relying heavily on GenAI tools for their content creation, resulting in superficial content. 

While ChatGPT and Bard are all the rage these days and can indeed be very useful, as the marketing director recounted telling her team, “You can’t GenAI your way to the top rankings!” Indeed, GenAI tools have serious limitations when it comes to tech content creation. This includes issues with AI hallucination and technical accuracy, generic texts, and even plagiarism and copyright issues.

It can, however, be helpful in the content creation process when used appropriately and in good measure, especially if you know the right ChatGPT prompts for tech content marketing. So how can you use it while avoiding these pitfalls?

  • Elevate your writing: Use GenAI to improve the flow of an existing draft. This is especially helpful for those for whom English is not their native tongue.
  • Technical review: While every draft should go through tech review, this is especially important with texts that relied even partially on AI in order to prevent any inaccuracies from slipping through.
  • Plagiarism tools: Many of the plagiarism tools on the market now offer AI detection in addition to plagiarism scanning (e.g., Quetext, Copyleaks) and may make it easier to flag AI hallucination and other issues.

Shifting the Tech Content Mindset

I like to apply the concept of the collaborative security mindset, where “security is the responsibility of everyone” in your organization, to tech content: Your tech content efforts should be the responsibility of everybody across your brand—from the C-suite to marketing to R&D. 

Adopting a “collaborative tech content” mindset requires reevaluating your tech content strategy, bridging the gap between tech and marketing, and making the developer and engineer an integral part of your tech content marketing team. 

Once you’ve successfully streamlined these processes, you’ll be able to produce meaningful tech content at scale that drives results.

Are you a tech content marketer looking to streamline your tech content production? Tap into IOD’s extensive network of tech experts, strategists, and marketing writers today. 

Are you a dev or engineer looking to share your knowledge and write for some of the biggest tech brands out there? Join the IOD talent network.

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