Why use contests to drive modern developer engagement? Unlike hackathons that attract a wide range of developers, often mainly students, online events like contests can engage developers with jobs, including those who influence or make purchases.

However, what drives developer engagement?

There are several knobs you can turn to create successful developer contests. But within the context of experimentation, managing expectations, and creating a memorable experience, there are a few guidelines that we learned by talking to developers.

Based on Evans Data Corporation’s Developer Marketing 2017 survey results, we know that contests advertised on newsletters from D2D communities are likely or very likely get 80% of developers to click through.

Because we interviewed developers, we know that developers are lifelong learners who are always looking for ways to level up on new technology like AI, machine learning, and the internet of things. Within these tech areas lies a wealth of skills that need to be developed and demonstrated. Providing a goal, accountability, and a learning platform spiced up with the challenge of competition is just the ticket to encouraging engagement.

What Content Draws Developers to Contests?

Sure, the love of competition, the prize, the pride of proving oneself the smartest person in the forum can all draw a developer to participate in a contest. However, these attractions may not create the widest net or reach the right audience, particularly when part of the contest goal is to create buzz and hoopla across developer communities.

One clue about the best type of contest to offer lies in the answer to the best type of content to offer. According to the Evans Data Corporation’s Developer Marketing 2018 survey, 90% of developers who responded read online tutorials for some or every new technology they adopt. Even more importantly, the same survey revealed that 87% share useful tutorials with their peers. Talk about buzz and hoopla.

Build Contests That Teach

When your goal is to attract a lot of contest participants and a lot of developer-to-developer chatter about your contest, the clear contest content winner is tutorials. Create a contest that relies on developers engaging with tutorials.

But I Want Them to…

Use My API

Developers are much more likely to build an application on your API if you show them how to use it. Create a contest based in part on tutorial completion to allow developers to level up. Then, give them an awesome prize for applying their new knowledge to create an application that serves your needs. Once you have satisfied their needs, your objective becomes much more likely to be an objective that they share.

Create Content About My API

Again, they can’t write about what they can’t use or don’t know. Include the opportunity for them to receive contest cred for consuming a few use cases coupled with how-tos and they are much more likely to want to commit to a greater challenge within your contest, like writing about how they used your API.

Download My Trial

Why download something you don’t know how to use? Start your contest with some information on what to do with the trial and how to do it, and they are much more likely to want the trial. Simple, right?

That’s a Wrap

Contests take time. While gamification can make contests fun, the fact is, the developers you want to participate don’t have much time on their hands. Give them the continuing education they seek and the opportunity to win while doing so, and you will find your contests have much greater developer appeal.