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Open Source Development as a Marketing Tool

Software companies that embrace open source contributions strengthen their development efforts and supercharge their marketing. 

“In open source, we feel strongly that to really do something well, you have to get a lot of people involved.” - Linus Torvalds, Creator of Linux

In this post, we’ll explore how developer tools companies can harness open source development as a marketing tool, uncovering the benefits and reasons that so many companies invest in open source development.

I’ll help you see how you can boost your company’s credibility, attract talent, increase brand visibility, nurture developer trust, and enhance your products with valuable feedback—all in a cost-effective manner. Let’s get started by looking at the potential for open source development.

The Power of Open Source Contribution

Open source contributions offer a range of great benefits that can impact your developer marketing strategy but let’s look at four of them:

1. Building Credibility and Trust

By participating in open source projects, your company showcases its expertise and commitment. This, in turn, establishes credibility in the eyes of the developer community and potential clients. Software engineers are more likely to trust and engage with a company that contributes to open source initiatives.

“The community aspect of open source is actually a driver towards building distributed trust…Once you become a part of the community around an open source project, you assume one or more of the roles that you start trusting once you say that you ‘trust’ an open source project.” - Mike Bursell

Transparency is key in open source development. By engaging, your company also showcases its willingness to work transparently, share knowledge, and collaborate. This builds trust among developers who appreciate transparency. Developer trust is invaluable in a competitive market.

2. Attracting Top Talent

In the competitive tech landscape, attracting and retaining top talent is a constant challenge. Open source involvement acts as a beacon for skilled developers who are passionate about their craft. These developers are more inclined to join your team because they appreciate your commitment to open source values.

3. Increasing Brand Visibility

Open source contributions also amplify your brand’s visibility in the developer community. When your company appears in repositories, forums, and discussions, it gains invaluable recognition. This increased visibility grows organic marketing and creates a buzz around your brand with greater trust than traditional advertising.

4. Enhanced Product Feedback

Open source contributions provide a venue for receiving feedback from the developer community. Developers using your open source tools may identify bugs, suggest improvements, or even contribute enhancements themselves–reducing your development costs.

Incorporating open source contributions into your marketing strategy not only promotes your products but also creates a cycle of credibility, talent attraction, brand visibility, trust, and product improvement. These benefits make open source development a potent marketing tool for software companies.

Getting started with open source contribution

Now that we’ve explored the benefits of open source contribution, you might be wondering how to begin. Here are practical steps to kickstart an open source journey for your company:

1. Identify Projects

Start by identifying open source projects that align with your expertise and interests. Look for projects that complement your products or services. For example, if you specialize in web development, you could contribute to different framework projects. Or you can even think of a tool that would benefit your existing developers and clients.

Ashutosh Mishra has a lot of tips for finding open source projects here on Hacker Noon.

2. Define Objectives

Set clear objectives for your open source contributions. Are you looking to establish credibility, attract talent, or enhance product feedback? Having well-defined goals will guide your contributions and help measure the impact.

3. Create Resources

Set up human and financial resources to support your open source initiatives. Make sure that your team has the time and skills necessary to participate in the chosen projects. It’s also essential to budget for any expenses.

4. Join the Community

Become an active member of the open source community. This means participating in discussions, attending conferences or meetups, and engaging with other contributors. Building relationships within the community is key to successful open source involvement.

5. Start Small

Begin with manageable contributions. Whether it’s fixing a bug, improving documentation, shelving out the first MVP of a tool, or adding a small feature. Starting with modest tasks allows your team to gain experience and build a contribution record.

6. Document Your Work

Document your contributions, not only in code but also in documentation and tutorials. This helps the community understand the value and gives you options to market your contributions.

7. Promote Your Involvement

As you make contributions, promote your involvement through your marketing channels. Share the news of your contributions on your website, social media, and newsletters. Highlight how your company is engaging in open source projects. Set up a resource channel, for example on your company’s website, where you market your open source products.

8. Measure Impact

Assess the impact of your open source contributions on your marketing strategy. Are you achieving your objectives? Are you seeing an increase in developer trust, brand visibility, or talent attraction? Define metrics to track your progress and adjust your strategy as needed.

Getting started with open source contributions can be a gradual process. By following these steps, your company can enter the open source community with purpose. Establish a presence, and begin reaping the benefits of this powerful marketing tool. Remember that successful open source involvement is not only about code but also about participation and engagement with the community.


Open source involvement offers immediate advantages. Including building credibility, attracting talent, increased brand visibility, nurturing developer trust, and valuable product feedback. These benefits create a compelling case for integrating open source into your marketing strategy.

Furthermore, a long-term perspective reveals how open source investments contribute to sustained success. Open source involvement yields a competitive advantage by setting your brand apart, ensures product sustainability or even viability, and fosters the growth of an ecosystem around your product offering – even reducing your development costs.

Whether you’re about to start or already have a record of open source contributions, and even if you have your own open source products – be sure to adapt your marketing strategy and reap the benefits of open source in full.

Jan Dočekal

By Jan Dočekal

Jan Dočekal works as a full-stack engineer at DX Heroes. With over 10 years of experience in development across various scales, technologies, and team leadership, he is skilled in Typescript, PHP, SQL, and NoSQL databases, as well as server management. His versatility is further demonstrated by his ability to take on the roles of a designer and a content creator.