The key actions we want to affect in the Activate & Accelerate stage are Convert and Amplify. We want to convert developer efforts in learning about SDKs and service endpoints into action (experimentation and development). Once developers have hands-on experience with your product/service, we want to amplify the favorable voice of those developers.
The shift toward open source software and cloud computing has lowered the bar for developer experimentation. Platform (database, web servers, middleware) and development tools are very accessible and the cost of creating a mobile or web solution is significantly less than that for traditional enterprise software.
Attract developer interest by appealing to their desire to keep their skills current (e.g., leveraging an industry standard), individual expression (e.g., open source contributor recognition), and create side businesses (e.g., mobile applications).
Contests (e.g., crowdsourcing) can be useful in generating activity, but often developers are driven by more creative or philanthropic rewards. Test your approach with a subset of the community first, to ensure your understanding of their motivations.
Amplify developer efforts by showcasing solutions that demonstrate individual productivity and creativity. Provide a context (e.g., developer oriented launch events) where innovative developers from the community represent their work. An advanced approach is to create a club context whereby the most committed developers actively evangelize the company interests in public channels (press, social media). You need to be careful about misrepresenting who they work for, but if implemented the right way, developers will get fulfillment (e.g., recognition at events) and value (e.g., product group briefings) from being associated with your company as you benefit from more scalable community reach. You can go further by creating an elite tier (e.g., Java Champions, Microsoft MVPs/Regional Directors) which recognizes the most influential developers and secures their alignment with your company.