2021 was Airbnb's best year ever, with $1.5 billion in revenue. Despite a global pandemic and fierce competition, this U.S. company has never been better off.
Behind this dazzling growth are various reasons: a recovery in tourism, an offer that adapts to new customer expectations... And above all, a committed and united community, that guided the company's development.
Airbnb is the perfect example of a successful Community Led-Growth strategy. So we interviewed Douglas Atkin (ex-Head of Community at Airbnb), to understand the company's community strategy, based on the Community Commitment Curve. Here are his tips 👇
Airbnb's secrets for engaging its communities
Airbnb is known for creating, hosting and engaging its community. Since the company's start in 2008 in San Francisco, the challenge has been clear: create a community marketing strategy and unforgettable experiences for both hosts and guests.
To engage his host community, Douglas Atkin (ex-Head of Community) in particular went back to some of Airbnb's methods. Today, Airbnb's host community is composed of more than 1.2 million members worldwide. The platform's community success is mainly based on the following actions:
✅ Sharing a strong sense of commitment, solidarity, and sharing: The community constantly highlights and cherishes Airbnb's human values. For example, the company frequently invites hosts to mobilize during tragic events, to welcome those in need (Hurricane Sandy in 2012, war in Ukraine in 2022, etc.).
✅ Considering hosts as business allies: the Airbnb host community plays a major role in the company's business development... But also in the cities and local actors. Douglas Atkin confirms it: the community is a business lever, for an entire ecosystem.
✅ Fostering co-construction: the community is regularly invited to share its best practices with the company. Thanks to its strong relationship with the community, the idea is to co-construct future strategies. The company relies in particular on the Community Commitment Curve, to move forward effectively with its community.
What is the Community Commitment Curve?
Community Commitment Curve: Definition
The Community Commitment Curve is a concept developed by Douglas Atkin, ex-Head of Community at Airbnb. This tool allows community members to follow a specific engagement path, step by step.
Indeed, community engagement is a journey that gathers different levels. This concept of Community Commitment Curve is based on the principle that: by responding to a first request, the members of a community will be more likely to move forward and respond to a second request... And so on, until they achieve "great" requests and actions, in favour of the community and the company.
In order for community members to be truly engaged, it is in the company's best interest to solicit their participation. They will then be inclined to perform actions that are more difficult than the previous ones... And therefore increase their level of community involvement, while boosting the company's growth.
Community Commitment Curve: 3 key principles to follow
There are 4 phases in this concept:
- The discovery of the community
- The onboarding stage
- The real commitment
- The transformation of members into "leaders" or "ambassadors
To successfully follow this engagement curve, Douglas Atkin outlines 3 main principles to follow:
1️⃣ Demand: If you want the members of a community to take action... Just ask them. To create a first movement and a first wave of engagement, dare yourself to go and ask your community!
2️⃣ Low barriers to entry: to join a community or get involved with the company, the barrier to entry must be low. For example, joining the community should be easy (hence the interest in choosing a simple and accessible Community Platform, like MeltingSpot!).
3️⃣ A gradual increase in demand: this is the final step, to follow the community engagement curve and make members progress. Requests should become increasingly important or involving. The resulting engagement will then be greater... And you can provide greater rewards to the most engaged Ambassador members.
By following these steps, you will increase the retention of members in the community, while also increasing their loyalty. Performance and return on investment (ROI) go hand in hand with this methodology!
Here are a few examples of actions to implement in your community, to follow Douglas Atkin's community engagement curve:
3 tips for developing your Community-Led Growth strategy
Now you know some of Airbnb's secrets to engaging their community, as well as the community engagement curve to follow.
To conclude, here are 3 final tips from MeltingSpot and Douglas Atkin, to ensure you develop a successful Community-Led Growth strategy 👇
Eliminate limiting beliefs
You haven't created a community of customers, collaborators or partners yet? Maybe one of the reasons for inaction is related to limiting beliefs. You know, like "Creating a community is only for big companies" or "I don't have a product yet, there's no point in launching a community...".
At MeltingSpot, we are convinced that these limiting beliefs must disappear. Today, Community-Led Growth is for all businesses. From small businesses to SaaS startups, e-businesses or Airbnb... All companies have the power to bring together, animate and engage a tight-knit group even before a product launch.
💡 Besides, Community-Led Growth is a golden lever, to facilitate a launch and a Go-To-Market strategy. The community can become a real ally, to co-create products or services, from the very start!
Don't "just" aim for growth
Obviously, in Community-Led Growth, there is "Growth". Growth is a central element of this strategy. And It's the community that guides and carries the growth of the company.
However, a community strategy should not be based solely on this notion of growth. During our interview, Douglas Atkin insisted on this point: "growth is not the only goal of a community... Loyalty matters!"
🤝 You get it: creating the largest community is not an end in itself. While doing so, think about building member loyalty. There's nothing worse than a community that grows fast... But lets its members go elsewhere. To avoid "Community Churn", take care of your community members, by deploying care actions.
Make interaction the key to engagement
To build an engaged community, interaction is key. Sharing, discussing and interacting with community members must become a habit. In fact, it's a virtuous circle:
The more the company interacts with its community, the more it motivates the members to exchange with each other (horizontal interaction)
The more members interact, the more they engage with the company (co-construction, events, etc.)
The more engaged members are, the more loyal they become.
The more loyal the members are... The more successful, profitable and interesting the Community-Led Growth strategy becomes! 🚀
Here is the full video of our interview to get all the tips from his successful journey at Airbnb.
Ready to engage your community?
To create, lead and engage a community, you now know what you need to do:
Take inspiration from Airbnb's secrets
Deploy the Community Commitment Curve, at your scale
Follow MeltingSpot's advice to eliminate limiting beliefs, build loyalty and develop interaction within the community.