Building Successful Superuser Programs

Once you’ve established your objectives and defined what success will look like you’re ready to figure out how to structure your program to best achieve those goals.

  • How many program members do you need?
  • Will all members perform the same role and have the same responsibilities?
  • Do they all carry equal responsibility for achieving your goal?
  • Are there ranks that members can work their way up through?
  • Will you need separate groups or teams to cover different areas or tasks?
  • How will those teams interact?

Hierarchical Structure

Hierarchical programs have several tiers and are structured according to member experience or tenure. Members work their way up through the ranks as they gain experience.

Here are some examples of hierarchical structures:


Google Top Contributors are recruited from the Google Help Forums. Members who perform well move up through the ranks. This is a good example of a self-sustaining and scalable structure, with top-ranked members recruiting and mentoring new members.

Rising Stars Top Contributors Mentors
The first step in the program. Rising Stars help others by answering questions in the Google Help Forums and Help on Social. They are generally shoulder tapped by Mentors and asked to join the program. Rising Stars that stand out are invited to become Top Contributors, where they are publicly recognized for their product expertise. These are experienced Top Contributors who advise Rising Stars and help to recruit others into the program.


The Lithium Stars program has three ‘types’ of membership. Two are hierarchical, based on engagement levels (called Lithium Star Scores) and the third is made up of hand-picked ‘brand advocates’.

All-Stars Rockstars Heroes
Top contributors who actively participate in ideation, engage with other customers, share their insights and provide constructive feedback in the Lithium community. The top 1% of Lithium Certified contributors based on their Star Scores. Hand-picked brand advocates and influencers in their industry. These are customers that participate in case studies, provide references, attend events, etc. but aren’t necessarily active in the community.

One of the most intricate hierarchical based structures that we came across while researching programs is that of FourSquare. They have a 10-level structure where qualification into the lower levels is automated based on activity. Members are handpicked for invitation to levels 9 and 10, where they are considered brand ambassadors and work closely with FourSquare staff.

Role Based Structure

Some programs have a role based structure with teams performing different tasks.

If you choose this structure make sure you recruit based on skill sets or interests. Collect information about prior experience, skills, interests and motivations at recruitment time in order to effectively assign roles.

Here are some examples of role based structures:


The Salesforce MVPs program has a complex and well developed structure. It consists of four role-based teams that are each tasked with self-managing an aspect of the wider program. This is the ultimate scalable solution.

MVP Engagement Team MVP Mentorship Team MVP Care Team MVP Strategy Team
Tasked with maintaining engagement across Salesforce communities and to identify new engagement opportunities for other MVPs. Tasked with working with the engagement team to identify other MVPs requiring mentorship and with recruiting new MVPs. Tasked with providing support and assistance for existing MVPs, and structure and guidance for new MVPs. Tasked with working with internal Salesforce teams to define and execute the MVP program strategy.


Magento Masters receive recognition based on the type of activity they performed in the past year.

Movers Mentors Makers
Top advocates and ecosystem thought leaders and influencers, delivering best-of-class Magento implementations and advocate for Magento at industry events. Top contributors to the community, highly active at educating others and developing resources. They have proven expertise on building successful Magento implementations. Frequent contributors valued by Magento and other community members. Active in the community, sharing ideas, insights, and constructive feedback.

Hybrid Structure

The third type of program combines both hierarchical and role based structures.


Spotify have a hybrid hierarchy/role based model. Staff invite community members into the Spotify Rockstar program from the pool of Potential Stars.

Potential Stars Rising Stars Rockstars
Members that are actively helping other customers, gaining kudos, posting accepted solutions, and establishing relationships with Moderators. Highly engaged Potential Stars who have to pass a test to move into this trial phase. They remain a Rising Star for a minimum of 3 months before being eligible for promotion to a Rock Star. Official program members receiving full benefits.

Nested within this hierarchy is a role based structure – Rockstars choose specialized roles such as ‘Idea Guardians’, ‘Fun Masters’, ‘Community Mentors’ or ‘Blog Mavericks’


Thermomix are working on a super user program structured around research on existing roles.

Influencers Communicators Conributors Value Makers
Instead of usual mass marketing, all sales for the kitchen appliance are from word of mouth referrals and sold through a network of advisors who, post sale, also act as influencers and brand advocates within the community. When a new model or product is released, communicators are mobilized to help discuss, review and spread the word. Once the members become more familiar with the new product content (recipes) contributors are engaged to provide reviews and votes. If certain recipe categories are under-developed, value makers could be incentivized to create new recipes.


Vinted had an interesting model. Rather than ranks or tiers within one program they ran two distinctly different programs which complemented each other. The Brand Ambassadors (60 members globally) were responsible for running meet-ups with the twin objectives of strengthening the brand and and acquiring new members.

A separate recognition program called Top Sellers (15k members globally) was tasked with creating content for the Vinted site. There was a subset of Top Sellers called Trendsetters. They were influencers with a much larger social media following and were deployed to run workshops for Brand Ambassadors. These workshops were aimed at helping the ambassadors “move up the foodchain” in a similar way that the Salesforce MVP Mentorship team supports and trains other program members.

A hybrid structure such as the Vinted model works to support the scalability of your program. Hybrid structures tend to work better in established environments where the values and motivations of members are well understood.



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