When I work with clients to build developer engagement strategies, I always begin by creating personas. Oftentimes, my personas for each client overlap because they are valid for most developer audiences. So, I thought I should share a few common developer personas.
My personas are drafted based on motivation, not who developers are as a person. I want to know the best way to motivate my target audience to engage with me.
Open source developers are passionate about their work and will usually build things with no intent of seeing their investment returned. They are generous about giving back to the open source ecosystem.
The one downside of OSS (open source software) developers is that they are more vocal and opinionated when you wrong them. Ensure you are listening to this audience and implementing their feedback.
Keep in mind that open source developers are not motivated by money. They do not tend to make a lot of money because they don’t have the desire for it. They do appreciate things like thought leadership opportunities, rank, status, and showcasing of their work—especially if that work helps them earn an income.
They enjoy swag, but swag is plentiful in the developer space. So be creative if you go the swag route. Stickers can be a big hit with this audience.
If you really want to incentivize these developers, sponsor the open source projects they contribute to. Not many companies are giving back to open source and it earns major trust with the developer community.
These kinds of developers use your product frequently in their day-to-day developer lives.
You will most likely find these developers working for an agency or freelancing. They use your product to build many projects for clients. As a result, they are hyper-focused on how to better it in ways that would improve their daily work.
Remember that these developers NEED to use your product or one like it. So the more influence they have over it, or feel like they have over it, the better. If they do not feel like their motivations and needs are being met, they may choose a competitor with more opportunity for feedback.
Developers who are looking for work are either seeking freelance gigs or their next career opportunity. These folks are both personally and professionally invested in their involvement with you. Every action they take is most likely a strategic move in their job search.
Consider doing showcases and shout-out’s as soon as you recognize that there are job-seeking developers in your community. A solid reputation boost through a social shout out, presentation, or other opportunity to showcase their work will build a very strong relationship with this person. They need financial stability and every bit of public recognition or acknowledgement of their status helps them achieve it.
Depending on how long they’ve been seeking work, they may actually be open to paid gigs. It’s rare that I recommend money as an incentification, but you might be able to swoop in and be a hero when they need it most.
Both paid and unpaid work is appealing to this developer. While they are actively seeking advancements in their career, they may need to add to their portfolio so they can prove their expertise. Remember that anything you can do to help them get more work will incentivize this developer.
These folks are working hard to build their own personal brand and reputation.
It could be due to their geographical location and their lack of opportunity there. Or it could be that they are seeking to shift into a more public facing role, like Developer Relations, and they want to become a more appealing candidate.
Whatever the reason, something is motivating this developer to care about their reputation. Provide them opportunities to be publicly recognized and showcase their work. They will see this engagement as a major incentive. They care about things like badges and roles in your community. They make great core contributors and moderators in forums, as long as you make sure their work is public.
These personas are just a start. If you’re creating personas for your developer audiences, these may get you very close.
However, ensure you focus your personas around motivation, not who they are and what they do. You want to know what is going to motivate developers to engage with you first, then learn more about how to engage with them as they evolve in your community.
This article was originally posted on Devocate, which joined the Common Room family in August 2022. For more developer relations insights and resources, check out the Common Room blog. Learn more about Common Room’s solution for DevRel teams if you're looking for an intelligent community growth platform to educate, empower, and enable your community.