Applying the Fogg Behavior Model to Developer Relations

I found about the Fogg Behavior Model from #saashacker newsletter. I found this model super interesting and right away thought if it can be applied to Developer Relations.

Fogg Behavior Model Graphic 2019

First, what is the Fogg Behavior Model? You can find a detailed explanation on https://www.behaviormodel.org/. The model has three main components: Motivation, Ability and Prompts.

The model says that to influence someone to do something, you have just two levers:

  • Motivation – how much someone wants to do something
  • Ability – how easy it is to do the thing

The third component

  • Prompts – is a call to action, trigger or cue for a behavior to happen

So, could this model be applied to developers? Let’s look at each component and see how it can be applied to Developer Relations.

Motivation

So what can motivate developers? Here is a list of motivations:

  • Solving a (challenging) problem (at work or a personal project)
  • Giving back to community. For example, contributing to an open source project
  • Career growth, personal growth, learning

Ability

Ability is how easy it is to do something. I think ability has a strong connection to Developer Relations. We (Developer Advocates) always strive to make things easier for developers. A big part of this is making our documentation, tutorials, videos, guides and everything else easy to follow and complete.

In June at DevRelCon in San Francisco, Steve Pousty gave an excellent talk called The Kick Ass Curve for developer relations. I recommend you watch the talk, one of the themes from Steve’s talk was that we need to make things easier for developers so they can become successful, and fast.

Prompts

A prompt is a call to action, trigger or cue for a behavior to happen. In the context of Developer Relations, a call to action can be a hands-on workshop that a developer can attend, or an online event. It could also be a friend recommending the technology. It can also be an interesting and easy to follow step by step tutorial that you saw in an email newsletter, an interesting blog post, article or an interesting tweet. All these prompts can lead to: “hey, I want to try this”.

Summary

Looking at the Fogg Behavior Model, we want to stay above the green Action line. Staying above the line means a developer is motivated, and it is easy for her to complete something and the prompted has worked. I believe most developers are very motivated. Where we can make a bigger difference is in the Ability.  To make developers successful, we need to strive to make things easier such as produce high quality documentation.

There are probably other ways to apply this to Developer Relations (or I might be complete off, hey, who knows). Would love to know what you think, please leave any feedback in comments.

If you want to learn more about the Fogg Behavior Model, you can pre-order BJ’s forthcoming book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything. For the first time ever, BJ explains the Behavior Model in depth for a global audience. tinyhabits.com/book.

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