Online Community Super Users
How to Discover Your Online Community Super Users
Online communities present many potential benefits for all kinds of brands. From boosting a company’s customer support efforts to facilitating ideation and research, there are many ways businesses can use online communities to get ahead.
Getting the best out of a community depends a lot on how well it is managed. That said, a good community manager is one who takes time to understand the people making up the group. It is also extremely helpful to figure out who are the super users in your online community.
Who is a super user, and why is it important to identify them? More importantly, how do you go about spotting the super users in your online community? Keep reading for answers to these questions, and then some.
Who is a community super user?
Online community super users could be labeled as your brand champions. These members tend to drive most of the engagement that takes place in the group. They are often highly knowledgeable – in their respective fields and have experience using your products, as well as with your brand.
Online community super users keep the conversation going. They make others feel comfortable and welcomed in the community, and can be both direct and indirect ambassadors of your offerings.
What do super users do in an online community?
Super users can play a number of roles in an online community - all of which have the possibility of delivering positive results for your brand. Some of their actions include:
Sharing useful content with other members of the community
Sharing their experiences / publishing testimonials
Assisting other users with problems they might be experiencing
Contributing to discussion threads
Spreading good word-of-mouth about your brand
Acting as community moderators
It is clear that super users are generally more passionate about your brand than other community members. This is what makes them an invaluable asset for any company looking to grow their user base.
Why you should focus on identifying community super users
It may not seem necessary to put any time or resources into discovering super users for your online community, especially if you are already getting results from your current efforts. It is also easy to think that super users with a large following don’t need any support or recognition on the part of the brand. But consider the following benefits before dismissing the thought:
They can help you save time and money that would otherwise be spent on customer service
Super users can add immeasurable value to the purpose of your online community
Super users encourage more participation among members
They will likely put out even more effort on account of being highlighted
Super users can amplify your referral program and lead generation campaigns
How to find your online community super users
Finding super users for your online community should be easy, right? After all, you can see the people who interact the most. If you already have a branded community, such as your own discussion forum, or a Facebook group you set up, you probably already have super users in waiting.
But you wouldn’t want to give someone special community privileges and it turns out that they spend a lot of time promoting themselves. Even worse, your designated super users could end up being little more than glorified trolls who drive other community members away.
You can save yourself from potentially embarrassing mistakes by first doing your due diligence. To begin with, you need to consider your community goals before contacting anyone to be a community champion. Are you looking to improve your customer support efforts? Are you trying to attract more members/users?
Check your entire fan base to get an overall idea of people who have the potential to be top users, including those who have an audience. For example, someone who posts videos of themselves using your product on their Instagram account or YouTube channel might be a good fit.
In addition, you will need to consider the impact you want your top members to have on other users. What are some of the main skills and expertise super users need to have in order to help you achieve your goal? How will your super users reflect the diversity of your target audience? Should there be some kind of compensation scheme in place?
As you can see, there are plenty of questions you will be faced with as a community manager.
Here are six tips on how to discover your online community super users.
1. Note your super fans (people who actively show support for your products)
A good first step in discovering super users is to search for those people who are already engaging and giving support to your brand. This includes the people who follow and interact with you on social media, including your brand’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram pages. Someone who likes, comments, and/or shares a substantial number of your posts would likely be considered a super fan. If you have a blog, look for readers who are always commenting or sharing your content to their followers.
Super fans are among the easiest to recruit when looking for online community super users. However, you should spend some time nurturing their fondness for your brand before you make an offer. Be sure to engage and respond promptly when they make comments on your page. The closer they feel to you, the more receptive they will be when you offer them the chance to become a super user.
Super fans may be hard to come by if your company is relatively new and you are not yet receiving much engagement on your social media pages. If that’s the case for you, focus on the other tips on this list while working on improving your social media presence.
2. Look in Your Community
If you already have an online community set up, that is the next logical place to look. In fact, if your community is quite vibrant, you can look there first before searching for super fans. Your community can be a branded website that you use to connect directly with your users or a page built on another platform (such as a Facebook group).
Whatever the case, you should spend some time taking note of those users who stand out because they are more active or attentive. You might already have an idea of some of the users who fit the profile you are looking for based on past interactions.
Community members who try to help others, answer questions, and engage with your posts are good candidates. You want to also take a close look at things such as their overall online reputation, the quality of the content and expertise they share, their skills outside of the community, and how other users respond to them.
3. Scan for reviews and testimonials
Not all of your super fans and customers will join your official community page or website, or even follow you on social media. Some will post about your products and services on their YouTube channel, review your products on Amazon and other e-commerce platforms, or even share reviews and testimonials on third-party forums and websites.
You should spend time looking at these extensions of your overall community to identify people who speak positively of your brand. One of the benefits of looking for brand champions in your wider community is that many of them are parts of groups and communities that they could also introduce to your products. In addition, people are more likely to trust their feedback on your offerings more than any promotional content you might put out.
Someone with thousands of subscribers on YouTube, for example, has the ability to drive new viewers to your website if they review one or more of your products on their channel. Even though they might not follow you, it would be a good idea to reach out and thank them for sharing your product. That would be a good way to make an initial connection. You could even consider sending them another product that you offer to review (for free). As you build a relationship, it becomes easier to invite the customer to become a super user in your online community.
4. Check out discussion forums
Discussion forums that are within your industry, but not necessarily related to your brand, are also hunting spots to be considered when trying to find super users. If, for example, your company provides music-editing software for DJs, you might be able to discover super users in discussion forums that consist of musicians who use edited music files in their compositions.
Knowing where to look depends on how well you understand your industry and how your target audience fits in.
5. Search for bloggers in your niche
Most bloggers are always on the lookout for strategic collaborations. Connecting with bloggers in your niche can be mutually beneficial. On one hand, their role as brand champion in your online community can result in more exposure for your company when they share your products with their readers. At the same time, it is possible for the blogger to gain access to people in your community who may be interested in their content.
Of course, when choosing any blogger or influencer as a super user, there should be some amount of balance regarding what gets shared and with whom. You want to prevent your interests from clashing with theirs and vice versa, as this would nullify any benefits of them being super users.
6. Solicit feedback
Another useful idea you can try in order to uncover super users for your online community is to ask for feedback directly from the people who currently use your products. Since your customers are the ones using your products, they are in the best position to provide a fulsome and honest critique of your business.
You can, for example, ask customers to give their opinion about one of your products or business processes. Asking for product improvement tips can also be helpful where uncovering super users is concerned.
There are two possible benefits from such an experiment. For one, the feedback received might lead to valuable ideas and suggestions that you can use to improve your products or how your business operates. The other potential benefit is that evaluating the responses could reveal customers that are highly passionate about your offerings and, therefore, may be candidates to become super users in your online community.
If you are going to select super users using this method, they will likely be more inclined to pick up on your offer if you show that you are willing to act on the feedback they provide.
Making the connection with potential super users
Once you have identified people who fit the criteria to become super users for your online community, it is time for the invitation and “interview” process. This can be conducted in a number of ways.
You could, for example, send direct messages to your prospects if you are using a Facebook group. Another approach would be to send emails that indicate your intentions. You could even put out a general ad for brand ambassadors with an online form attached.
Another method would be to create an online application system that allows your customers to apply for the role of a super user, if interested. This could be something that you make available on the dashboard of every customer who has created a profile on your platform. Once you have received a certain amount of submissions, you could disable the feature so you don’t have too many applications to go through.
Whatever method you choose, be sure to clearly express to prospects what you are putting on the table and what is expected. You should outline exactly what your brand and community are about, your reason for building a team of super users, and a sketch of the targets you want to achieve with their help.
Here are some of the important points to cover:
Their roles and responsibilities in your online community
Community and brand guidelines
Goals of your super user program
The start and end of their services as a super user
Incentives and privileges (if any)
Who to report issues to (community manager, moderator, etc.)
Incentives and Privileges
While some people won’t mind helping without any strings being attached, others will desire some sort of reward or incentive for being an online community super user. It is important to acknowledge this from the get-go so you can let potential candidates know what you have to offer. This might seem to be an obstacle to implementing a super user program, especially if your company is running on a shoestring budget. But there are creative ways to reward your super users without having to spend money upfront, or at all.
Offer discounts: Research indicates that over 60% of consumers follow brands on social media to learn about sales promotions and discounts. Hence, it is no surprise that your super users would likely react positively to getting discounts as a form of incentive. You can set up a system that allows your best brand champions to receive exclusive discounts for recommending your products, referring a new customer, or simply sharing your content.
Special recognition: Putting the spotlight on selected members of your community is another great way to reward them for being super users. You can, for example, create a “top member” or “super fan” badge or ribbon that is displayed on the profiles of your most active users or contributors. You could also consider displaying the photos of your champion users for the month or quarter at the top of your community page.
Special features: Yet another way to incentivize your super users is to include them in promotional productions. Top users could be invited to share their experiences about your brand or products in a video or sponsored article, for instance. Top community members who have their own platforms such as a blog, website, or YouTube channel could be allowed to share their social handles and website links in the article or video (as long as these don’t counteract your brand’s offerings or content).
Personalized gifts: Branded gifts and swag such as t-shirts, posters, pens, diaries, etc. are also good incentives to offer your super users. These can be created in-house or through a third-party platform (such as Teespring or Shopify) and sent to your top community champions.
Exclusive access: Create a separate members’ area in your online community that only your most active users can access. This exclusive portal should come with some specific benefit, whether it is to engage in higher level discussions with your company leaders or to be part of special collaborations, or something else.
Now that you know how to find super users for your online community, your next step is to ensure the initiative is worth your time and money. Be sure to remain in constant communication with community members, allowing for a constant stream of suggestions and feedback. That way, you will always know what works, and doesn’t work, in terms of growing your community and brand.