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Community Flywheel Framework – Grow Your Brand on Autopilot

May 3rd 2024
Home > Blog > Community Flywheel Framework – Grow Your Brand on Autopilot
Community Flywheel

The community flywheel is a framework designed to grow your brand with minimal effort through user-generated content, participation, and brand advocacy. This article will introduce you to the marketing model that uses customer engagement and satisfaction to fuel continuous brand development, no matter your niche. Learn how to harness this system and grow your brand on autopilot.

The Flywheels Impact: From Mechanics to Marketing

James Watt invented the flywheel during the Industrial Revolution as a core component of the steam engine. This contraption was known for storing kinetic energy from the steam and releasing it smoothly, providing continuous power to the engine. This ensured the steam engine’s operations were steady and reliable.

But how does this apply to marketing, and how can it help you take your brand to the next level?

A circle of people depicting a community flywheel.

What is a Community Flywheel?

A community flywheel is a dynamic marketing model where a brand creates or joins relevant communities to grow organically. Just as a well-oiled steam engine transforms short-term efforts into long-term success, a community flywheel can keep a brand thriving on autopilot.

The community flywheel involves constantly interacting with customers, which ultimately results in sales. Unlike conventional linear marketing approaches, the Community Flywheel operates in a constant cycle. It uses every customer interaction to create even more engagement, strengthening and expanding your brand. 

How? Through the means of content creation. Initially, brands need to engage customers by creating content that will appeal to them, such as articles, posts, videos, mini-courses, or anything else that resonates. For example, a food brand may share recipes or tips for budget-friendly meals. Their target audience will engage through liking, commenting, and sharing. Because of this, they will automatically bring newcomers to the brand. From then, the brand continues to fuel itself, leading to organic growth.

A well-built community flywheel will build the brand’s reputation and drive it forward with minimal effort on the brand’s part, helping you grow your company on autopilot.

The Flywheel Vs. Traditional Marketing

In traditional marketing, efforts typically involve one-time actions: brands execute campaigns and gain customers. The cycle continues, with brands having to churn out new content whenever they wish to start a campaign.

On the other hand, the community flywheel works in a seamless cycle. Each engagement, whether buying something, leaving a comment on social media, or participating in community activities, contributes momentum to the flywheel. The more momentum (gained through user engagement), the quicker the flywheel will rotate, attracting more and more community members and skyrocketing the brand’s growth.

Benefits of the Community Flywheel Approach

There are a few significant advantages to adopting a community flywheel approach to grow your brand.

  • Brand loyalty – Ongoing engagement generates more brand loyalty, building stronger emotional ties with the brand. Customers remain loyal to brands that consistently interact with them and adapt to their changing requirements.
  • Organic growth – This model promotes organic growth through word-of-mouth and peer recommendations, which are typically more trusted and less intrusive than traditional advertising. This results in increased authentic marketing reach.
  • Brand advocates – Providing plenty of value means that customers won’t just be loyal to your brand – they’ll advocate for it, too.

The Framework for Community Flywheel 

The Community Flywheel framework will help grow your brand on autopilot by utilizing organized, strategic community involvement. According to a study by McKinsey and Company, this specific cycle of interactions continually boosts and speeds up marketing efforts. 

Brands need to adopt the following stages for success: attraction, engagement, satisfaction, inclusion, and expansion. If you execute them properly, they’ll keep the flywheel moving. Here’s how.

Step 1: Attraction

To get your community flywheel running, you need to draw in your desired demographic. Create content that provides value and addresses potential customers’ needs. This can be in the form of blog posts, social media posts, podcasts, and webinars. For example, if you’re a DIY brand, you could create a blog or podcast centered around upcycling projects to attract fans of that niche.

Combine these actions with authentic engagements, such as replying to comments or joining discussions, to build connections. This will bring the right audience to your brand, ready for stage two.

Step 2: Engagement

After drawing in the right crowd, the next task is to hold their interest. McKinsey and Company advises focusing on one specific product, idea, or concept to engage your audience. 

Encourage community involvement and promote a culture of sharing to increase engagement. This might include interactive material (such as polls or quizzes), forums for the community, question-and-answer sessions, or even live events. The objective is to ensure that every member feels appreciated, as this will encourage ongoing engagement and increase participation in the community, helping to grow your brand on autopilot.

Step 3: Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is crucial in converting customers into brand advocates that will help with growth. To ensure customer satisfaction, surpass their expectations rather than meet them. Do this by providing outstanding customer service, tailoring experiences to individual preferences, and incorporating feedback you can use to make your community and brand better.

Happy customers are more likely to tell others about their good experiences, leading to natural advocacy and word-of-mouth recommendations, all of which are key in growing your brand organically.

Step 4: Inclusion

Creating a sense of belonging among community members is essential for strengthening their bond with the brand and successfully implementing the community flywheel. You can achieve this by:

  • Providing unique deals
  • Giving access to exclusive content
  • Engaging customers in product development processes (such as voting on new features or products)

This will help turn customers into enthusiastic community members who are proud of the brand’s achievements.

As the brand’s reach expands, community members will continue to share their experiences. Use referral programs and highlight user-generated content to demonstrate the community’s diversity, as this will help attract new members and grow your community.

5. Expansion and Improvement

Improve the community platform by removing technical obstacles and responding to community feedback. According to McKinsey, nearly 70% of shoppers believe that the speed at which a webpage loads impacts their decision to make an online purchase. However, 85% of websites do not meet Google’s recommended load time of five seconds or less, leading to a high bounce rate. Responding to feedback from the community will help identify these kinds of problems with your product or platform.

Making positive changes will help community members feel valued and motivated to recommend your product or service to others – thus, growing your brand automatically. 

How to Use The Community Flywheel to Build and Grow Your Online Course Community

By adopting the principles of the community flywheel, online course creators can significantly increase community engagement and cultivate a lively space based on their content.

  • Attraction – Firstly, course creators must entice new members with engaging content and convincing marketing tactics. This can include providing complimentary introductory classes or informative online seminars that showcase the course’s benefits. 
  • Engagement – After attracting learners, engagement is essential. Creators must cultivate interactive conversations, conduct live Q&A sessions, and promote peer-to-peer learning to engage and inspire students. This process not only improves education but also fosters a feeling of unity among individuals. 
  • Satisfaction – This comes after, as creators need to make sure that learners benefit from the course. This results in positive feedback and endorsements that serve as natural promotion for the course. 
  • Inclusion – Strengthen the bond by allowing learners to feel like they are a valuable part of a unique community through access to special content or private discussion forums for sharing ideas and overcoming obstacles. 
  • Expansion – The last step is driven by the learners themselves. If they feel fulfilled, they’ll want to bring in more peers who may benefit form the course and grow the community organically. This sustainable process drives the popularity and success of the course, reducing the need for typical marketing strategies while increasing involvement and commitment. 

Teach.io makes it easy to build a community for your students, offering everything you need to harness the community flywheel framework in one platform. Visit Teach.io for a free 14 day trial

Community Flywheel vs Marketing Funnel

The traditional marketing funnel model has been essential in marketing plans for more than a century after being developed by St Elmo Lewis in 1898. It guides customers from their first exposure of your brand or product to an eventual purchase. 

However, with the evolution of the digital marketing landscape and changes in consumer behavior, new models, such as the community flywheel, have arisen, offering alternatives to the traditional funnel structure.

There are six fundamental differences between the marketing funnel and the community flywheel approach. 

1. Linear Versus Cyclical Dynamics

The funnel model guides potential customers through different stages (awareness, interest, decision, action) until they make a purchase. Every stage eliminates those who do not progress to the next level, gradually selecting the most suitable customers for your product.

On the other hand, the flywheel approach is continuous, building steady momentum as happy customers drive increased participation and draw in new customers through word-of-mouth. This cycle gains and sustains momentum, which helps you grow your brand.

2. Ultimate Objective versus Ongoing Movement

The main objective of the funnel is to transform potential customers into actual customers. The sale is the ultimate aim of the buyer’s experience.

In comparison, the flywheel views purchases as part of a continuous engagement cycle, aiming to cultivate long-term brand advocacy and customer interaction. It converts single purchases into enduring brand fans. This leans into the lifetime value concept, as you’ll be able to retain customers easier and encourage them to keep making purchases.

3. Push Versus Pull Approaches

Marketing strategies are categorized into two main approaches: push and pull marketing. “Push marketing” is where brands will send promotions to their customers to encourage them to make a purchase. In comparison, “pull marketing” is about letting customers come to your brand.

Push marketing strategies are common with the traditional funnel, as they help guide potential customers through every stage until they make a purchase. Conversely, the flywheel concept leverages “pull marketing” by using existing customer satisfaction and engagement to draw in new customers organically. This cuts down on forceful push marketing tactics, helping you grow a strong community centered around your brand.

4. Role of the Customer

In the funnel model, the role of the customer eventually comes to an end. The customer completes a purchase, which signals the end of their journey. However, the flywheel model considers existing customers essential for continuous growth. Engaged customers constantly help to improve the brand by providing feedback—good or bad. They are important participants who actively contribute to and grow the brand’s community on autopilot.

5. Efficiency and Momentum 

The funneling framework is a lot of work; it needs constant attention to attract new leads through new and improved campaigns or ads. Over time, the cost of attracting new customers can increase, resulting in diminishing returns. 

By comparison, the flywheel is much more efficient. The energy you spend on attracting new customers (such as making posts, designing courses, writing articles, etc) is not wasted. Instead, every time potential customers interact with your content, it inspires them to share, which drives brand growth.

6. How Success is Measured

With the funnel, conversion rates and sales figures usually determine success. However, in the flywheel model, success is measured by engagement, retention, community growth, and lifetime value, providing a better view of brand health in the long term.

Community Flywheel Examples

The following six brands showcase the effectiveness of the community flywheel in action.

Harley-Davidson Owners Group
[Source: .Harley Owners Group Harley-Davidson.com]

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

According to the H.O.G (Official Harley Owners Group), Harley-Davidson doesn’t just have an established group of customers – it has created an entire culture. These motorcycle owners are members of a vast network of clubs, private gatherings, and an everyday lifestyle that goes beyond typical consumer connections. The Harley-Davidson community serves as a vital marketing tool, naturally spreading awareness of the brand through word-of-mouth interactions and hosting events that attract a larger audience.


Sephora’s Beauty Insider program creates a sense of community by offering more than just discounts. It allows makeup lovers to exchange advice, reviews, and suggestions, ultimately transforming clients into supporters who endorse Sephora.


LEGO harnesses the imagination of its fans through the LEGO Ideas platform, allowing users to share their creations for the community to vote on. Successful designs are transformed into tangible products. This process of co-creation keeps involvement levels high and guarantees that the products will already have a market before they’re even launched.


Peloton has transformed the at-home fitness sector by building a community around its product. Characteristics such as live classes, leaderboards, and social sharing options allow individuals to connect and interact with one another, transforming individual fitness into a communal activity that encourages repeat participation.


GoPro has effectively transformed its customers into a community of content producers. People share exciting videos and photos on the platform, demonstrating what the camera can do and motivating others to share their experiences. This content acts as a genuine promotion for the brand.


Duolingo’s platform enhances language learning by providing a social environment through clubs and competitive leaderboards. Gamification is used to promote learning and collaboration. 


Teach is a community platform that uses gamification strategies to encourage engagement for both customers and brands. It provides the perfect opportunity for you to put the community flywheel framework into action, helping you nurture a growing community in one space through the use of video content, posts, articles, one-to-one sessions, and so much more. 

Try Teach free for 14 days.


The above brands show how the Community Flywheel can boost growth, creating a self-sustaining network of people where customers are the most influential brand advocates. By prioritizing attraction, engagement, satisfaction, inclusion, and expansion, you can change passive audiences into active participants who enhance your community. 

Adopt these principles to build a lively community that backs your brand’s development and enriches the customer journey, securing your brand’s success.

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