This may be a blanket statement, but I feel it’s pretty safe to say that most community manager have likely been a superuser at one point in their lives. Whether it was online forums for a hobby or favorite musician/band, I believe the passion community managers have for information sharing and being helpful are a few key aspects that make such individuals great at building communities.
Recently, #CMGRHangout addressed the topic of superusers in which Sherrie Rohde and Jonathan Brewer were joined by panelists Stuart Bankey, Holly Goldin, Charlotte Kübler and Nathan Maton to discuss the ins and outs of building superuser programs.
Since I’ve been a super user, usually by accident, in a few situations, I was particularly interested in understanding some of the insights shared by the panel on how these programs are built and fostered. Some key takeaways from the #CMGRHangout include:
- Build the superuser program with intention. Community managers should work to show the value of being a superuser by attracting these individuals early on. In other words, don’t let users stumble into the role of a superuser. A common thread found in superuser programs includes a nomination process within the community. Creating such a program should have structure to allow for consistency across the board. Moreover, it’s also important to think about how to create a program which resonates within your community. Other factors to keep in mind during the planning process include addressing what superusers will get in exchange for their time and contributions. As discussed in the #CMGRHangout, placing an emphasis on intrinsic motivating factors, as opposed to giving stuff away for free can help set expectations and avoid entitlement.
- Highlight the contributions of your superusers. By actively promoting these users to your community, it shows what your brand looks for in superusers and can increase the rest of the community to aspire to make similar contributions. As mentioned by Nathan Maton, it’s one thing to have a group given the credibility of being called a superuser, but as community managers, it’s important to look at users who are also helping to drive the community forward. It’s for this reason he points out the idea of having subgroups within your superusers as this can help gain further insight into which values each subgroup cares about most in your community.
- Communicate the mission of your superusers. There are certainly perks to having a highly engaged group of users to check in and solicit feedback with, but communicating to your organization as well as the superusers about the program’s mission can be mutually beneficial. Much like an example shared by Holly Goldin, from an organizational perspective it can be mistakenly overlooked that superusers in most cases are not paid for what they contribute. As a result, it’s important to educate colleagues about this and to help them understand the superusers are not a team which can have tasks delegated to the same way this would happen for someone who was on the payroll. Furthermore, as shared by Stuart Bankey, the minute superusers feel that what they are doing is a “job” they are much more likely to become disengaged.
To wrap things up, the following #ProTip offered by Charlotte Kübler is likely one all community managers can agree with, and that is: Superusers are very passionate people who may also have egos to flatter. Although a superuser program works well when structured, building real relationships with these individuals and often putting yourself in their shoes can offer great insights and results to your organization.
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