The community flywheel: Superwave's approach to building communities

In community, there’s only one thing that actually matters: do your members return to your community over the long term? If they don’t, well…you aren’t going to have much of a community.

Of course, consistently bringing people back to your community is also the hard part of community building. It will always be hard, to some degree, because humans are complex creatures. But it’s also harder than it needs to be, in our view, because community platforms leave this challenge almost entirely to community leaders. 

This is the founding principle of Superwave: we believe that a community platform should be not just an empty vessel for you to fill, but instead should be a dynamic, helpful partner that supports you in creating a vibrant community. 

The question then becomes, what should that partnership look like? On the way to an answer, we’ve explored a few important questions that we’ll detail our answers to below:

  1. What causes community members to return to a community?
  2. How is value created in a community?
  3. What is Superwave’s role in the value creation process? 

Why do members return, or not, to a community? 👋

In our view, people that consistently return to a community do so for one reason: they have developed an expectation of value in that community. Conversely, when people don’t return to a community, it’s most often because that community has failed to consistently create value for them. 

Value may be defined differently across people and communities, be it learning, connection, status, contribution, and more. But all successful communities ultimately develop an expectation in their members that when they return, they’re likely to find something that’s interesting to them. 

How does a community create value for it's members? 💫

That of course begs the question: how is value created in a community? In our view, value creation comes from a powerful three part feedback loop:

Understand: What do our members care about, individually and as a group? What are they saying and paying attention to? 

Create: Are things that my members value (opportunities for connection, conversations, content) created in my community? 

Discover: When something of value is created, do relevant members discover it and engage with it? 

Each of these steps feeds into the other: a better understanding of your members drives the creation of better content and connections, which leads to higher engagement, which in turn improves your understanding of your members. 

How can Superwave help? 🤝

Today, most community platforms leave it up to community leaders to get this flywheel turning, which is a very difficult task. 

The result is often some combination of: a suboptimal understanding of what the community needs, conversations and content that don’t land, and great content that many relevant members never discover. This isn’t the fault of community leadership - it’s simply asking too much. 

At Superwave we believe we can influence each part of the flywheel to help you get your community building efforts get moving more quickly:

Understand: Deep, actionable analytics tools help you understand your members individually and in aggregate, and automate your re-engagement workflows. 

Create: Clear prompts help your members understand how they can get involved in your community, and what topics other members are likely to care about. 

Discover: Explicit and implicit signals of what your members care about, individually, are leveraged to help members find the things in your community that are most likely to be relevant to them, through personalized feeds, notifications and connections.

The next wave 🌊

We believe the next wave of community building will see community platforms partner with community builders to bring more viable communities into the world.

If you’d like to be on that wave with us, you can sign up for Superwave, or follow us on X (Twitter) and Linkedin.