I like @Carrie_Jones take on using a commitment curve to plot member activities. However I also find that there are quite a few members for whom the first ask can’t be big enough. I have had members whose first action was to apply for an ambassadorship. Or whose first action was to write a blog. My question is if the community commitment curve model still holds, even when quite a few members do not seem to fit within this model. Is there any scientific validation for the commitment curve and online communities?
We tested this a while ago and found that this works far better in theory that it does in practice (at least for us). I wrote about it a while back.
But it’s also a little semantic. The difference between a commitment curve and many standard conversion processes is simply the shape of the line. There are tweaks that you can take at each stage to improve conversion, but I believe the curve is trying to graph too precise a process onto too complex a problem.
The problem, as you spotted, is each user is very different. Some want to lurk, others want to jump right in and lead the way. Many tend to hop around performing a wide array of seemingly random activities. Others might have much more positive experiences, but I haven’t seen any data to suggest this works well.
You can be regressive about this though. You could look at what today’s community leaders did when they got started and try to get more people to do the same things. The problem there is this mixes correlation with causation. You might be confusing personal traits that were most likely to attract leaders with actions that caused them to become leaders.
User activity is generally not a great way to segment community members.
Instead we’re pretty confident to say it’s better to cluster people by traits (i.e. separate people by age, gender etc…) or unique needs (what brought them to the side, what landing page etc…) and create unique journeys for these groups. These journeys are psychological (not behavioral). Thus it’s more about increasing their competence, autonomy, and relatedness for any stage they are currently at within the community.
What would help you build a more successful community today?
I totally agree that the Commitment Curve is great as a theoretical framework, since if basically maps a conversion process. Do I think all of my users nicely fit along that curve and will allow travel in tandem along the same scientific curve? Heck no.
I think its usefulness is in providing a paradigm for conversion and in pushing users to the next stage. Some users will never move past the first stage on the commitment curve (aka Lurkers), and thats okay. Some users will blow through the first three stages in their first week and become your superusers. But I think several of it’s tenets - like prioritizing your asks from small to significant - are important concepts to understand in providing a journey to your users.