Building Successful Superuser Programs

Selection Criteria

Once you’ve established how you are going to target and select your members, you can start putting the necessary processes in place to recruit them.

Don’t rush this part. Without adequate preparation and forethought you won’t get the best people for the role. This will limit the potential of your program, waste resources, and lose the faith of your stakeholders.

In the early days of the Google Top Contributors program, members used to ‘stumble into’ the program after being regular contributors for a long time and getting tapped on the shoulder. During a program overhaul, Google realized that by making people aware of the program much earlier during their community membership cycle (via email) they were able to increase the pool of potential motivated members from which to choose.

Write a list of specific criteria for each role (or group) that an ambassador is to be recruited for. The more explicit you are in the beginning, the better fit you’re likely to find.

Salesforce does an excellent job of documenting what they are looking for in potential MVPs.

A Salesforce MVP is an exceptional individual within the Salesforce community recognized for their leadership, knowledge, and ongoing community contributions. These individuals represent the spirit of the community and what it is all about.

Traits looked for in MVPs are product expertise, leadership qualities, and accessibility.

Members are rewarded for creating and sharing valuable content through blogs, being a brand advocate for Salesforce, running active Developer Groups and User Groups, responding to posts on #askforce, and answering questions in the Success and Developer communities.

To qualify you have to have been active in the community (at minimum) of the last 12 months.

Once you’ve established the type of person you are looking for, you need to formalize a process for signing them up.

Let’s look at how some successful programs do it:

The route you choose will depend on the objective of your program, where your members spend their time, what behaviors you want to nurture, and what program management resources you have available to you.


Program Type


Nominated by the community Superuser programs with the objective of driving engagement or answering support questions. Large, established communities where members have been displaying the required behavior for some time.
Self nomination Ambassador programs with the objective of showcasing a product, persona or skillset.

Ambassador programs designed to drive referrals.

Very small or less established communities.

Communities where the required behavior isn’t yet being displayed or members will need a very specific skillset or interest.

Data driven selection Superuser programs with the objective of driving engagement or evangelising a product. Communities with access to robust metrics which report on the program objective.
Gamification Superuser programs with the objective of creating content, stimulating engagement or spreading social reach. Communities where data driven selection would be optimal but robust metrics aren’t currently available.
Invited by the organization Ambassador programs with high stakes for the organization (i.e. members have a high profile and influence the reputation of the organization). Programs that reward exceptional behavior which isn’t easily measured. E.g. Influencer or ambassador programs.

Once you’ve decided on your recruitment avenue, formalize it with publicly available documentation. You may not want to publicize all of the details – letting members know your selection algorithms result in people gaming your system – but potential members need to know how and/or where they can apply.

Depending on your objectives, you may find your superusers outside of your brand real-estate. For example, Magento looks to StackExchange as well as their own community when identifying potential program members.

Consider some of the following options:

  • Competitor communities
  • Communities of Practice in your space
  • Product fansites
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram and other social media
  • StackExchange
  • Quora
  • Other Q&A sites


  1. Invest time into carefully planning and executing your recruitment process.
  2. Have a clearly defined and documented process that potential members can follow.
  3. Remember that valuable members might be recruited from outside of your community.



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