The Community Commitment Curve offers members a clear and progressive engagement journey in the community, from a total stranger position to a community organizer role (or other key roles). The concept is not new to community professionals, and it was described for the first time in 2012 by Douglas Atkin. If you want to know more, Carrie Melissa wrote a good article on it. For the Italian audience listening, Caterina Manzi from AirBnb also mentioned it during a talk at the Italian Community Managers Summit in 2018. It was interesting to see, compared to the original curve carved by Douglas, how much it has been improved and redefined over time.
Why the community commitment curve works
The whole community commitment curve idea is based on the fact that personal investment is an important contributor for the development of the Sense of Community, both for the “membership” and for the “shared emotional connection” aspects of it. People who donate more time and energy to an association will be more emotionally involved (remember, community is all about emotions). This social evidence opposes to what a newcomer can often find in a community environment: warm and welcoming people, useful content, but not clear call to action on how to contribute back to the community. It is not uncommon the only communicated message at in-person community events is “Help us to organize the next event”: clearly an overwhelming call for a person that just joined, or young members of the group.
The community commitment curve defines progressive, balanced asks community managers can make to their members, to keep them engaged and proactive, through a commitment journey composed by 4 main phases: discover, onboard, engage, lead.
Every ask is built on top of previous asks. And every task has an effort connected to its accomplishment. Of course, “invite / bring people at the event (engaging, effort 1)” requires, in absolute terms, an effort way bigger than “register for a community event (discovering, effort 2)”, but once a member is at the beginning of the engaging phase and has already actively advocated for the community, bring people at an event is a very natural follow-up step, and the personal perception of its effort is very low. This is the very core of the curve: makes “everything perceived easy” for member engaged with the community, while giving community managers a reproducible way to achieve this.
And this is also the reason effort “resets” at every phase.
The focus of a Community Commitment Curve
Every community is unique in its own way but, luckily, an initial community commitment curve can be drawn for communities sharing similar model and goals. Then it can be customized with unique aspects and rituals of the specific group. Giving my current job, supporting in-person dev communities interested in Google technologies across Europe, my focus was to find a curve for this kind of communities. And I did not alone, but asking to my Italian GDG community leaders to co-create, collectively, the curve, during the annual event we held with them.
Community Commitment Curve for in-person (offline) communities
Here a Community Commitment Curve for an in-person community, with the main objective to organize physical meetups and events around tech topics. The effort is on a scale from 1 to 3, where 1 is a very and 3 is the hardest.
The picture doesn’t have the best readability, so a spreadsheet with all the steps and the list also follows.
- Visit the community website landing page / social channel (effort 1)
- Like a post on the community social channel (effort 1)
- Search for the next community event (effort 1)
- Send an info request about the community (effort 2)
- Comment on community social channel or tag the community (effort 2)
- Subscribe to the community social channel providing passive engagement, like Facebook, Twitter, etc (effort 2)
- Register to a community event (effort 2)
- Attend a community event for the first time (effort 3)
- Stay and interact at the end of the event (free chats, aperitif, networking moment, etc, but without leaving the venue) (effort 1)
- Leave feeback on a community event attended for the first time
- Subscribe to the community channel providing active notifications to stay updated on future events and community news (Meetup.com, maling list, IM group chat, etc) (effort 1)
- Collect community identity symbols (t-shirts, pins, stickers etc) (effort 1)
- Spontaneous social media activity during the event about it (live tweet, sharing slides and thoughts etc) (effort 2)
- Provide a feedback about the attended event (effort 2)
- Help with the event logistics by chance (moving chair before / after the event, clean-up tables and venue, etc) (effort 2)
- “Wear” community identity symbols (attach a stickers, wear a tshirt, etc) (effort 2)
- Take active part to online discussion on community social channel after the event (effort 2)
- Attend a community event for the second/third time (effort 3)
- Propose topics for next community events (effort 3)
- Attend an in-person social event after the meeting (dinner, free chats, etc, and outside of the venue) (effort 3)
- Refer the community / next events to peers (effort 1)
- Invite / bring additional people during events (effort 1)
- Suggest / connect with a potential speaker (effort 1)
- Suggest / connect with a potential sponsor (effort 1)
- Be a good source feedback (events execution, onboarding experience, social presence, image of the community during the events, etc) (effort 2)
- Proactively offer help for event duties (attendees check-in, venue setup and tear down, move mics for questions, etc) (effort 2)
- Consistently produce event follow-up (blogpost, recap, friction logs, etc) (effort 2)
- Propose a talk for an event (effort 2)
- Active contribution to a community side project (code projects, etc) (effort 2)
- Help representing the community during broader events (booth at conferences, fairs, etc) (effort 3)
- Promote events on social / real life (effort 3)
- Curate the full social presence during events (effort 3)
- Attend community events on regular basis (effort 3)
- Proactive help with event logistic (venue setting, gadget distribution, speaker support etc) (effort 3)
- Speak during an event (effort 3)
- Introduce the community at the beginning of the event (effort 3)
- Arrive at the events earlier to help with logistic (shop for the food for the networking part, visit and check the venue days before the event, etc) (effort 3)
- Attend one or more core-org team meetings (effort 3)
- Constantly finding speakers for events (effort 1)
- Scout for new venues and make all the arrangements needed to run even there (effort 1)
- Take care of the with audio / video task (effort 1)
- Welcome speakers before the even and be their point of contact (effort 1)
- Present the community to other community events (effort 2)
- Help community in tasks required to sustain itself (site, analysis etc) (effort 2)
- Lead the community social strategy (effort 2)
- Propose and execute community improvement actions (greet new members, implement new features etc) (effort 2)
- Be responsible for the full organization of one or more events (effort 2)
- Be the point of contact between the community and the main sponsors (effort 2)
- Co-define the community strategy and plans (effort 2)
- Take care of transition from Onboarding to Engaging for new potential community leaders (effort 2)
- Accept the co-organizer role (effort 3)
- Identify and onboard new co-organizers (effort 3)
- Lead the community governance in the co-organizers group (effort 3)
- Step-up as the main community organizer (effort 3)
The curve lacks with Carrie Melissa defined as emotional involvement, another parameter to consider together with the effort, to make the transitions between tasks even smoother. And no curve is perfect, of course, so I’ll integrate additional feedback over time. What’s yours? Do you think some tasks is missing? Please let me know and, in the meantime, feel free to use the Curve for your communities!