Gain public commitment

Make a user’s decision public and they will feel more inclined to carry through with the action and defend the decision.

Examples

  • New year’s resolutions are hard to keep: 22% of people fail after one week, 40% after one month, and 81% after two years. Quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and losing weight are all hard to do. Companies like Weight Watchers know that the social element—regular meetings where you “weigh in” and share your progress with others—are big drivers for successful weight loss and long-term weight maintenance. The key here is the shared commitment that you make to reach your goal.
  • Social fitness sites make your goals public. Runkeeper, Fitocracy, Fleetly, and MapMyRun/MapMyRide all have publicly accessible pages for each user and optional sharing via other social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • HabitForge.com, 21habit.com, and GymPact.com take a different tack: A third party (the site or app) holds you to your commitment. 21habit and GymPact even include a financial incentive. With 21habit you pay the site up front, and then on each day that you complete your activity you get to reclaim your day’s dollar. Skip a day, and your money goes to charity.

Principles

Sharing commitment with others means that the individual faces social reprobation if they don’t follow through. Commitment to a goal is much more concrete if the commitment is written down.

How to gain public commitment

  • Persuade your users to give you access to post to their social media accounts. You probably don’t have to be deceptive: If you have done a good job of selling the product or service, then it should be easy to explain how a public commitment can make the user more likely to follow through.
  • Create an environment such as a forum where users can form groups with a shared commitment to performing an activity that you care about. Peer pressure can keep the group more committed.
  • Display a simple metric of “success” that shows at a glance whether users are progressing toward their stated goals. This metric should be easily interpretable by users and by their extended social network. Allow users to “share” this metric as a widget on other sites to gather even more public commitment.
  • Combine public commitment with an affiliate program. This gives users more motivation to share because they make money from the process of expressing their commitment.

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