Every business owner wants super fans – those customers who buy products without considering the price, often at the rollout or launch stage. But the super fan’s real power is they want to share their story publicly. They take pride in being associated with a particular brand, and they will go out of their way to share loyalty and recruit new customers to the fold. It makes sense for brands to focus significant energy on identifying and cultivating their super fans.
Finding the super fan
How does a brand acquire such loyal followers? In an attempt to bolster their name and reap the benefits of shared media, brands often try to identify people who are socially and commercially influential, and then convince them to become super fans.
This is not a recommended practice. Instead, identify existing super fans and bestow influencer status. This approach not only requires less money and far less work, but it’s also much more effective.
Super fans are everywhere, but brands need to pay attention. If store employees know customers by name because they come in so frequently, or if the person consistently posts random tweets about loving the newest product, brands must recognize this and recruit such followers.
It means aligning with fan groups, such as the Dodge Viper Owners Association or the Porsche Club of America. These groups exist to provide a rallying point around which super fans can congregate to socialize, network, and feel a sense of community with like-minded individuals.
Interestingly, many of these groups, such as TCM Backlot, require their supporters to spend additional money to participate or receive extra access. Super fans aren’t just willing to pay, they do so willingly to be part of an exclusive community.
Here are three important tips for fostering super fans:
When they talk, listen
Even before achieving super fan status, followers engage, particularly on social media. After a brand makes a post, it must keep an eye out for those who post positive feedback and start a discussion. Brands must reach out and ask what the person would like to see from the brand, or if there is a new rollout, whether he or she would enjoy a sneak peek. Everybody wants to feel like part of the club, and the feedback from these fans will be invaluable in research, development, and promotional efforts. Once a new product or service is launched, pay close attention to the reactions.
Turn casual fans into brand advocates
Not everyone will be a super fan, but it’s possible to elevate a midlevel fan by giving that person a boost. Every business should have a customer insights team that gathers groups of customers to show them new ideas coming down the pipeline. This could include a new advertising campaign, a new product about to roll out, or just a quick sample of a new approach to messaging.
This type of inclusion serves a dual purpose: These customers feel special and valued, which boosts their support of the brand, and they are also willing to give honest feedback. Even if they haven’t reached super fan status yet, they’ll be comfortable sharing when something’s not in alignment with the brand or not the quality they expect. When they feel as if their feedback is being listened to, customers become much more engaged with the brand.
Identify them as special
Giving super fans a name or a unique identity is especially powerful. International music sensation Lady Gaga refers to her devout followers as her “Little Monsters.” She even has a code language for talking to them: When she says, “paws up,” it’s a rallying cry for her most dedicated fans, who know she’s speaking directly to them. That insider feeling is invaluable when it comes to keeping super fans dedicated.
Businesses can do the same thing by making super fans a part of their brand. For example, retail clothing store TJ Maxx calls its best customers “Maxxinistas,” and it even launched a Maxxinista of the Month contest in which fans can upload photos of themselves wearing their favorite fashion designs to try to win a gift card to TJ Maxx and a professional photo shoot. When fans feel as if they’re a part of an exclusive club, their loyalty goes through the roof.
Super fans can supercharge a business
Super fans create other super fans. Take the co-worker who gives out books to everyone at the office. If one person reads the book and it hits him just right, he will share it with as many people as possible. If a rabid fan of a brand is constantly enthusiastic, the friends and colleagues in his social circle will start to wonder whether they’re missing out on something special. Chances are they’ll check into it just to find out. That’s the power of shared media at work.
This level of brand advocacy doesn’t happen overnight. With constant effort on the brand’s part to engage with customers, nurturing that engagement by listening to what fans are saying, and creating a community that allows fans and super fans to connect, brands can create their own legions of super fans.
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