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Max Katz for IBM Developer

Posted on • Originally published at on

Using online meetups to scale your Developer Relations program

Online events is one of the best ways to scale your developer relations program. Online events such as webinars have been used for a long time to reach developers anywhere in the world. After a webinar, the video of the webinar can be shared and uploaded to YouTube (or any other web site). This allows developers to watch the recording who couldn’t attend it live and also by anyone else. Developers can watch it anywhere in the world, any time. And that’s exactly how a video allows you to scale.

The video on YouTube (or any other web site) can used for many months and even years after the actual event to provide high-quality developer education. The video doesn’t need to be from a webinar. It can be a video you recorded yourself. This is a video (audio quality is so so) I recorded about four years ago and it now has over 240,000 views!

IBM Developer SF team has been running online events called online meetups with great success. Although a webinar and online meetup are very similar, there are some differences I believe. A webinar is usually a one-time event while an online meetup has a community component. We host our online meetup every week (you can host it less frequently, just be consistent) and publish it on our meetup. It becomes a community event but just online. When IBM Developer SF Developer Advocates travel to conferences and meetups outside the Bay Area, we always encourage developers to join our meetup. This might sound strange, why would someone from Nashville, TN for example join our SF Bay Area meetup? They wouldn’t be able to attend our local events (as virtually all meetups are local). But, with an online meetup component, we encourage developers to join our meetup as they can attend our online events from anywhere. I believe this is a big benefit. Even if they can’t attend the live event, they can always watch the recording.

We try to keep our online events about 40 minutes long. We know that everyone is busy so 40-minutes seems like reasonable time to keep people’s attention. I think any longer and people will start dropping off. The same goes for the recording. Developers love learning from videos but don’t want to watch long videos. We also don’t do any company introductions and similar content. We introduce the speakers and jump right away into technical content and education.

We have been using a tool called Crowdcast to host our online meetups. It’s a great and modern tool to host online events. What is very nice is that the online meetup is recorded automatically and is available at the same URL usually five minutes after the online meetup is over. Another nice feature that is that people who register can start posting questions even before the event starts. You can also simultaneously stream to Facebook and YouTube. You can check out all our previous events and joint our future events here.

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