Let’s face it your super users are the engine room of any community, they devote 100’s of hours of their own time often unpaid and generate +60% of your content, all in the pursuit to help your customers resolve their issues & complaints for their own gratification that they have helped someone.
Super users are great for you and your support costs as you drive growth in this small subset of users you can save BIG with some companies putting Millions of dollars’ worth savings on their super users. It’s important to remember these guys n gals are not staff and although I’m a firm believer that you shouldn't pay or offer them cash as an incentive, mainly because you run the risk of undermining any advocacy they have for you with external perception potentially being "they love you and help, because you pay them" also most true super users do it for intrinsic motivation factors and the offer of cash or large gifts can be a turn off for many however you still have to make them feel warm & cosy inside.
Here are some of the most effective ways I’ve seen and used myself to reward and keen super users invested in your community:
Let them peak behind the curtain:
In almost every example of super user schemes I’ve noticed there's an element of giving them an insight into how the company works and its focus in the coming months/years, this is often a money cannot buy experience and one that super users love, love love.
Every year TalkTalk hold a massive event where all of our employees get together to learn about how we have done and more importantly where we are going in the coming years. We take advantage this opportunity to invite our super users along to get a first-hand look at our future innovations we have planned as well as a meet and greet with our Exec’s You could expect to see a 100% or more increase in user participation and contributions within the community following their invite and is normally sustained long after the event which can be a great boost.
These can be a great way to not only give you an endless army of users to test and feedback but also something that could be reserved as a perk for your users. I always offer my super users the chance to test the latest service, software patch or tech. Recently we have been testing a new remote control for our TV boxes and had 2 of our super users taking part in the test but also helping to collate feedback and troubleshoot with other testers.
Let them know your always thinking of them:
Most places run promotions and from time to time will have items such as pens, mouse mats etc. left over, these are great to just pop in the post with a "we found these and thought of you" note, the way you communicate this is important to ensure they don’t think they are only worth the cost of a pen to you. Community Guru Joe Cothrel has a great blog, where he talks about the different ways to give a mug and how the tone of voice used can shape how well its received.
I know its not always easy to secure budget but look at getting some community branded goodies, pens, USB drives, notepads etc. When we invite a user to join our super user scheme and they accept we send them a little goodies bag with a collection of things, the same principle apply in that you need to be careful not to sound like your saying "thanks for your 1,000's of hours of help which is worth a pen and a notepad" however from experience these go down really well and can be used to help with other schemes you may have such as newcomer of the month or MVP’s
Depends on how much your happy to give up and although most would advise that super users and moderators should be separate I’ve actually had a lot of success in enabling our super users to complete basic moderation like moving posts etc., gives them a little sense of importance but also helps you scale moderation.
It's a great idea to give your super users their own private/dedicated board, this not only gives them a channel to have open and honest discussions with other SU's but its also a platform for you to have a conversation with them away from the wider community, just be sure to set clear guidelines for what such a board should be used for.
By no means is the above list extensive and in fact there are 101 different ways to tackle R&R with your super users and depending on your users and community objectives some will work better than others. The key is to fully understand who your super users are, what makes them tick and work with what you have.