Create an activation strategy for your new community

  • 29 January 2018
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Create an activation strategy for your new community
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Welcome to our third and final pillar for creating community success: The Activation strategy.

Now that we know which content needs to be created and that we have a better idea of how we can generate traffic towards our community, we should have a look at the different ways to "activate" our users, so that they will stay on our community and start creating content themselves. This article will show you how to talk to your users, motivate them via reward systems as well as how to find your "superusers" (those users who are the most active and loyal).

The activation strategy

An activation strategy will help us to organize everything we need to have in place so that users start generating their own content as quick as possible. Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people by rewarding them with reputation. Ranks, Badges and likes can be earned by being active, so these tools will help us to achieve our goal. A policy on Employee engagement can help you to leverage the activity on your community by inviting colleagues who are experts in a field your users are interesting in. Next to rules of engagement, Q&As and escalation processes for relevant topics and questions should be discussed before the community is being launched. The third factor of our activation strategy is the Superuser program. These users are the experts amongst your customers, and are able to answer most of the questions on your community.


In our previous session, we discussed the importance of generating traffic to your community. Below you can see why it is so important to get as many people as possible to visit the community - only 1% of the visitors actually end up registering, and less than a half of the registered users becomes active in the end.

Leaderboards & Activity streams

Just like in any good video game, active users want to show off with their perfomance. Our community also highlights a small amount of users whose activiy has been extraordinary:

Each community has a leaderboard which will display the users who have received the most likes within the last seven days. Also, an activity stream displays who has received badges lately.

The ranking structure

The ranking structure is one of the most important tools to activate your community. The more active a user gets, the more important the ranking structure will become to him/her.

Make the rules secret

Users should never really know what they need to do to reach the next rank. You can give a general explanation what needs to be done (see here for a good example), however never explicitly say how many posts, topics, solutions etc. are needed.

Don't make it too hard

Don't set the bar too high for your users. While they should not reach a new rank with every post, it is important that the steps between ranks are not too high. Otherwise users will lose the interest and be less likely active.

Bonus: Make it dynamic

You can also use the ranking structure to identify the quality of a user: For the higher ranks, users must have posted replies that have been marked as answer. So if a user is not helping, but e.g. only complaining about your company, then he will never reach the next rank. At the same time, you can use rank rules in a way that very helpful users can "jump" a few ranks when they are posting a lot of solutions (see example below).


Badges are like medals which users can earn by specific actions on your community. After earning a Badge, users will see the Badge next to the username in a topic. The rules for earning a Badge are usually aligned with the goals of your community: If you are managing a support community, you probably want to give Badges to users who are answering a lot of questions.

Here some examples of Badges:

You are able to add and change Badges easily in the control environment, check this topic for more information.

Excercise: Create a first set of Badges

Think about a list of Badges which you would like to offer to your users. Simply think about the names and for which subforums / categories they should be active. The names should be an indication for what action they have earned it with, e.g. an "App Expert" probably has answered a lot of questions in the App subforum. Below you can find an example of some Badges and rules:

Employee engagement

Engaging with your users will benefit the activation of your community. However, doing so without clear guidelines will slow down the activation of your community.

Do's and Dont's

It is important that you are visible on your community - thank users for helpful or interesting contributions, share your knowledge where possible, or simply be there if a user is lost and needs help. Establish a relationship with your very active users and learn what they are interested in.

Nevertheless, the golden rule is to not answer questions within 24 hours after they have been published. If the question can be answered by other users, then give them the time to respond. Only reply earlier if the question can only be answered by an employee who has access to e.g. the backend / service management tool.

Employee guidelines

Sometimes the questions from users are too complicated to answer yourself. In this case your colleagues could reply as an expert on your community:

Tip: You can also think about having an expert Q&A with colleagues from other departments. Your users will love to speak to someone who is working on the product which they are using. This will have a positive influence on the sentiment of your customers and can help your community to gain more loyal users.

If you look closer, you will see that the post includes several items which ensure that the user will recognize that he is speaking with an official employee of the company:

Next to being visible as an employee on the community, it is very important that your colleagues understand what they are allowed to do on the community, and what not. For example should be clear to them that it is a public community for end-users, and not internal. The last thing you want to happen is that your colleague accidentially "leaks" internal information to the public, or that promises are being made on behalf of the entire company.

Therefore it is necessary that your colleagues know about the community, and that they know what needs to be done before they become active themselves. E.g. one rule should be that they contact the Community Manager before they start posting, so that the account can be changed to an employee account.

Excercise (optional): Discuss employee guidelines

Please discuss with your colleagues if and what kind of rules should be communicated to your colleagues, and where this should be shared. Maybe you can also contact your social media team and ask for the guidelines which they apply.


Superusers are the fuel of your community. They are typically the most active and most experienced users on a community. You will recognize them easily as the post a high amount of content in a very short time. Their statistics are simply amazing:

The perks of being a superuser

Superusers usually are having a good relationship with the Community Managers and Moderators of a community. After all you want them to be happy on your community, so that they keep on being active and answering questions.

When a community has 3 or more superusers, they often get access to a special, hidden subforum where they can chat about everything they are interested in. As these subforums are not public, you can also be a little bit more open in your communication to them - you should be able to trust them enough at this point. Having them sign a non-disclosure agreement can be a good idea though, especially if you offer them to test products or updates which have not been released yet.

The T-Mobile community regularly invites their superusers to offline meetings, to ensure that the superusers stay involved and close to the organization. They even informed the entire office to welcome them in the lobby of their office:

What can I do to get a superuser on our community?

There is no way to force superusers on your community. Sometimes Community Managers are successfully "recruiting" superusers from other existing platforms (e.g. a third-party communty), however mostly the superuser will find his way to your community himself. Sometimes it will take some time, so don't worry if there is no superuser in the first weeks after launch.

Next steps

After you have learned and worked on the activation strategy, it's time to become active. Finalize the content calendar, get the integrations ready, and start adding Badges and ranks to your community. The "getting started"-category has much more content for you which will help you on your way. Should you not find the information you are looking for, simply ask your question and we will help!

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