Identifying Your Online Community Super Users
If you ask any experienced community manager about their secret to success, the answer is often related to understanding the community members, their needs, and what to cater to them in each stage. And one of the critical set of members for any company is the super users -- they are the users who are experts in their domain and often showcase their expertise by helping others and sharing the first-hand experiences.
They are also more vocal than other users and remain up-to-date on the roadmap of the product.Knowing your community superusers is an important piece of information as it can immensely help in leveraging their productivity, knowledge, energy, and network to promote the company as well as inspire other users.
Essentially these are the users who would emerge as product advocates and evangelists.In this post, we will cover how community managers can identify, recruit, and onboard superusers. In the next part of this post, we will cover what type of programs and guidelines can be designed for super users once they are on-boarded. And finally how the program can be monitored and maintained to move superusers into evangelism.
Finding your super users
There are several ways to identify super users but first, take a step back and think about the exact goals you want to achieve with super users. Consider the type of people who would be presenting your company and what would be their common activities.
Then figure out the type of skills and knowledge they would need to perform those activities.The key factor to consider here is that the majority of people can acquire product skills to help peers and help your internal team with community management. However, superusers must have leadership quality and naturally efficient in building and improving the relationship with peers and the people from your company.
Your superuser must resonate with the vision and mission of your company and should be dependable enough to project your company in the right way to the world.
Also, consider diversity in your selection criteria -- you definitely don't want to alienate people from certain demographics and psychographics. This is important to gain trust and cement the relationship with a diverse audience base.
For instance, if you are interested in acquiring new customers and boosting brand visibility, look for users who are good at promoting solutions. In case you are looking to increase engagement in your community and help the support team by reducing tickets, your superuser group should be people who are passionate about helping others and sharing their knowledge.Given below is an example of Microsoft's MVP (Most Valuable People) program:
Now, here are some of the common tactics to find super users:
Own community and unofficial communities
If you already have an online initiative to connect your users, be it Facebook Groups, discussion forums or full-fledged online community, that would be the first and most obvious place to scout for super users. In this case, you should already have preliminary ideas on who cloud be your super users based on their community activity, reputation, and existing network.
Then, it is a matter of directly reaching out to them with your plan for the super users.Apart from that, there can be some unofficial communities run and maintained by the fans of your brand. This is a place where your users get support from their peers and share experiences. You can observe these online spaces to learn more about the type of discussions happening there.
You should not directly reach out to the members or publicly post about your plans as that can negatively affect the relationship with the owners of these groups.Note that you are not competing with these initiatives; a vibrant ecosystem of customer communities is your best bet. What you should do is respectfully reach out to the group organizers and appreciate what they are doing for your brand.
Then, you can inform them about your plans for own community and how you wish to engage with the superusers. This can open up the door to get your new plan in front of the existing superusers and there is a good probability that the group owners would become superusers in your community.Check out the SAS Support Community Super Users program to learn about the selection process:
Identify your product reviewers
Product review sections on different platforms can be highly relevant to find out the superfans. This is because of the fact that the most useful and detailed reviews come from people who have first-hand experience and constantly looking to share the knowledge gained from using products or services. This adds a pair of eyes to your brand to gain candid insights. Also, people trust these reviews because of unbiasedness.
You can always take steps to directly collect feedback for your product on your own. Collect data on the users who are detailed in their suggestions and showcase that they are truly involved with your brand. These users can be potentially your superusers, particularly for engagement and support.
Social media and Q&A sites like Quora
Identifying your community superfans becomes so much easier on social media. The posts are the biggest indicators of superfans on social media sites. The number of engaging posts created or the insightful comments made on the product can lead to the superfans. These are the people who can influence others and boost brand promotion for higher visibility.
For instance, you can look at popular Q&A sites like Quora where most of your brand enthusiasts would have already posted content showcasing their experiences, ideas, and suggestions. Quora is a great platform for the superusers to provide guidance to other people and clear out their queries. You can leverage these platforms to find the most enthusiastic users to join your community.
Blogs that belong to your niche
People with common interests and goals have a likeness to each other. Finding out the bloggers who are posting content related to your product or service or reviewing products belonging to your niche. Reach out to them and explain the upcoming plan to recruit them for your community. These superusers are specifically great for lead acquisition and brand promotion.
Build an application process
Apart from actively searching from your end to recruit superusers, you can invite the users of your product to become superusers in your community by showcasing the perks. This can involve both nominations from other members and self-nomination.Once the application process gets completed, you can evaluate the submissions based on your goals and associated parameters to select the superusers.
Reaching out and onboarding super users
Making contact and appreciating their contribution is a good starting point to initiate conversation. The most important cog in this machine is flawless communication. New members must feel connected with the team and be clear on the mutual expectations.When the superusers join your community, they must be given all the information to get the job done and seek help via the right channel in case of any obstacle.Here are some common information:
- Targets of the initiative
- Collaterals for the product
- Community governance
- Brand and content guidelines
- Responsibility descriptions
- Existing processes for reporting issues
- Details of Point of Contact
- Special privileges
- Procedure to redeem the incentives
- The target for end of the program
If your program is going to scale like FourSquare's 40,000 super users, consider having a dedicated role to get the super users onboarded.Apart from the comprehensive information package, consider sending swags from for an extra dose of excitement and promotion. Conduct one-to-one or group communication sessions at the very beginning to communicate better and establish how dedicated your company is about the initiative. This would again boil down to the amount of resources you have for the plan.
And of course, these sessions are critical for nurturing your relationship with the super users.Keep your internal team updated about the induction process and set the correct expectation on how the super users might approach them in case of any difficulty. Finally, how your team should help them get on track quickly.
Carefully collect their feedback and suggestions without providing any upfront promise. Showcase your company's commitment by quickly implementing the right suggestions.As mentioned earlier, the next part of this series on super users will highlight how the program can be efficiently managed after the onboarding process and the way super-users would transition as evangelists.