How To Engage, Excite And Keep Superfans: Your Brand's Most Important Asset

Social channels started out as ways for people to express themselves -- status updates about dinner, an amazing play by a favorite team, or check-ins at favorite hot spots became a part of our everyday lives. Seeking to capitalize on these channels, brands began to directly engage with consumers on Facebook and to build their own communities. The rise of social media has removed the barrier between company and consumer, allowing consumers to reach out and touch a brand through things as simple as a string of 140 characters.

Now, in addition to the mundane details of their everyday lives, these channels are outlets where consumers can express opinions about companies that they love or hate. Comments and posts are public. And the rants and rages are the ones that most often go viral. However, despite all the negativity, a wave of brand devotees is building, and they are going to battle on behalf of their favorite brands. Who are they? Superfans. 

Superfans are real, and they take advantage of today's social technologies to answer customer service questions, review products, and tout their favorite companies on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for the entire world to see. They generate plenty of content and social buzz for your brand. They love your brand.



Second, they are important. They combat negative sentiments and cast a wide net of influence over both prospective and existing customers. Superfans validate your brand better than you can validate it yourself. A superfan isn't just the casual bystander at a game. The superfan is decked out in team colors with facepaint and is featured on the front of the sports page professing his or her undying love for the team. It's these diehard fans that propel teams -- and brands -- to victory.

What's the key to the superfans' hearts? Treat them right. They are the most authentic voice that brands have. And in addition to having high lifetime values and making plenty of repeat purchases themselves, they can help you acquire new customers. According to a 2012 Forrester study, 46 percent of people trust consumer-written reviews, more than three times the 15 percent of people who trust social media posts directly from brands. These superfans are trusted, and it is imperative that brands also maintain that trust. 

Here are four tips for marketers to engage with superfans:

1. Be authentic. This is simple – don't ask 'what's in it for me?' The superfan is doing this because she wants to. The moment you cross that line into exploitation, the superfan will fly away. 

2. Make them feel valued -- build them up. Think about it this way: your brand is the Robin to their Batman -- the trusty sidekick. The sidekick makes the hero look good, and it’s your job to make the superfan look good.

3. Listen to them. When they post, people listen, and so should you. They are on the front lines. Keep an ear to the ground and implement their suggestions. There's no better feeling for a superfan than to see change they pushed for.

4. Equip them: Make sure they have the necessary information to be active and accurate. Reach out and have conversations; give them access to current, accurate information. It will develop even more trust, a deeper connection.

Superfans are important to any brand’s success. They are engaged, educated, and willing to spread the word. Never underestimate the power of their influence, and never take them for granted. They are the heart and soul of your brand and your lifeblood. The superfans are the parking lot tailgaters who bring legions of fans with them hours before the game starts. They will defend your brand and be the difference maker you’re looking for. Treat them right and they will help carry you to victory.
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