About community flywheels

Flywheels are mechanisms that gain power as they take off AND are self-propagating. Community flywheels are growth loops that propel community engagement or attract new members. They should be continuously improving set of repeatable, tactical activities that scale engagement or membership.


Here’s the most well-known example of a community flywheel: User-generated content. A community member joins a forum. They post a question, it gets answered. This Question and Answer attracts traffic through search engines, attracting a new community member who repeats the Q&A cycle.

Another example is the ‘Pssst, start a new thread!’ flywheel. This is where a community manager keeps an eye out for interesting comments on existing forum threads. They drop a direct message to the member that posted the interesting comment and say privately, “You know, that’s a really great question/thought! Would you mind starting a thread on this? I think the community would love to dive into this further!” The community member takes you up on this, and hopefully that thread has an interesting comment or two that can spin off into their own threads!

Let’s get started

This worksheet will help you understand the anatomy of a flywheel, and support you in creating a few flywheels to test.

Step 1: List of activities

What are the programs or main activities do your community members experience?

Step 2: List of rewards

What resources do you have to share? How does your community feel seen? What do they value? Think of really simple rewards (like a thank you) and higher impact rewards (like swag).

<aside> ☸️ Activities Brainstorm


<aside> 🏆 Reward Brainstorm


Step 4: Create flywheels

You’ve done a bit of brainstorming above to help you plug in ideas into each column:

  1. Activities

  2. Starting with one activity, think of actions the community member takes to engage (e.g. like RSVP, upvote, post a thread, etc)

  3. Come up with a way the community member can not only take this action, but contribute

  4. Rewards that reinforce this behavior

  5. Output (how you’ll share value from the contribution)