Telling The Right Story To Superusers

Working on a client’s superuser program recently, a question kept coming up.

Why would members step up to do the things we wanted them to do?

Why would they lead groups, mentor newcomers, or participate in feedback sessions?

Because they get to!

I see people wrestle with this often. They think of people in purely rational economic terms. i.e. if they’re not getting free stuff then they won’t help.

But that’s absurd. No-one would ever help anyone in any community if that were true. And even if it were true, the gifts you’re offering amount to far less than these same people would earn in a minimum wage job.

Superusers are going to do these things because you’re going to ensure they experience feelings they can’t get anywhere else. You’re going to make sure they feel valued, feel they are making a difference, and feel a powerful sense of purpose.

The skill in a superuser program isn’t identifying the right tangible incentives, but in crafting a powerful story members can tell themselves and feel good about. If you screw up the story – even just once – the superuser program dies.

Many years ago, I sat in on a webinar on the launch of a superuser program. The host literally said:

“We can’t afford to pay you anything, but we can give you badges to display on your profile and you will get a Christmas card from the CEO each year”

The moment he uttered those words, he killed the motivation of every prospective superuser on the call. He made them feel like it was underpaid work.

Compare this to another launch a client and I worked on recently. We spent ages on the script (and its delivery) and told a completely different story. This included:

“Everyone of you here today is here because we have identified you as having unique skills, knowledge, or commitment to the community. All of our members have helped make the community, but you’ve risen even beyond that.

In the coming weeks, we’re opening up a small number of opportunities to contribute more to the community’s mission. We don’t have enough roles for everyone. So be quick! For those who get one of these new roles, we’re going to throw all of our support behind you!”

The idea of tangible gifts, rewards, or benefits doesn’t come up.

Not even once!

Everything is aligned to telling a story members can tell themselves to feel valued, do activities others can’t, and having the biggest possible impact.

If you’re ever wondering what skills a great community leader possesses that a mediocre one can’t, being able to frame and tell successful stories like these is definitely a big one.

p.s. If you want great community leaders managing your community, we’ve recently begun managing communities on behalf of our clients.

p.p.s Already read WIIFM objections.

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