Given the speed at which technology is rapidly evolving, consumer behaviors are following suit at an equally frenetic pace. In a world of extreme customer expectations, staying “ahead of the curve” actually means, whether we like to admit it or not, “barely keeping up.”
Savvy brands, however, have been quick to learn that the best marketing is the kind that engages with consumers at a personal level, sparks conversation across multiple platforms, and inspires creativity and thought leadership. This is precisely where the Superfan comes into play. Superfans are highly connected individuals whose influence can help raise a brand’s message to new levels. But even more important than this is the simple fact that Superfans truly love the brands they support and are typically eager to lend their voice to help your brand succeed and grow – whether through positive social word of mouth, the development of original content, or anything in between. So for brands trying to break through the noise caused by more traditional “push” marketing tactics, the Superfan becomes your best friend.
Here are a few tips for spotting Superfans among your followers. Sometimes they stand out, sometimes you have to do a little digging to find them. But they are there — and they are ready to be your biggest allies.
1. If we build it...
Good user-generated content is hard to find, but it’s out there and ripe for the taking. Such content that gets tons of views or invites interesting and in-depth dialogue is even better. Superfans don’t simply create content. Rather, they create content that people want to engage with or respond to in some way. The old adage, “If we build it, they will come,” really doesn’t apply to content these days. There’s a tremendous amount of content floating about the cloud that has yet to be seen by anyone. That’s why, when you’re considering who should be earmarked as your Superfans, you really need to take the time to see how (and how many) people engage with the content they post or create. Engagement is one of the strongest measures of influence. Your Superfans must be those who start conversations that go viral.
2. Specialist vs. multi-tasker
Some people have mastered their social presence on Facebook. Others on Twitter, Instagram, Vine or YouTube. There are some — albeit a much smaller chunk of the social population — who have managed to create a uniformly influential social presence across multiple platforms, which you know is no easy task given the rise of social fads these days. The Superfans you want to support and represent your brand are those people who can do so with an exponential level of influence across myriad networks. They know how to tell stories — or, better yet, manage their personal brand identities — in a consistent, cohesive, and coherent way across multiple audiences.
3. Contextual relevancy
Superfans should be able to speak on behalf of your brand in informed, genuine, and relevant ways. But context matters, too. If you manage a visually driven brand, it will be important for you to identify Superfans that go above and beyond on visual networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine. Conversely, if you manage a more reviews-oriented brand, your ideal Superfans will be those who can capture people’s attention with words via text-oriented platforms like Facebook or Twitter. The big idea here is that not all brands are created equally, nor are they fine-tuned to succeed on all social networks. So just as you determine which platforms make most sense for your brand to have a strong social presence, you should be equally critical in identifying Superfans that thrive in those same spheres of influence.
The value of superfans in your community
We hinted at this above, but it’s worth taking a moment to reiterate. Superfans aren’t just a one-directional means of influence. They can actually engage in dialogue with your community in ways that you, as a brand, simply can’t. Their love of your brand is infectious — and your followers know it. It comes across as 100 percent genuine. What’s unique (and fun!) about bringing Superfans into your community is the added creativity and credibility they bring to the table. This is not your traditional definition of earned media. Not in the slightest. They are content creators, content curators and content influencers. They are perceived as experts in their specific areas of interest. Like your other followers, they love your brand and they want to support it any way they can. Unlike your other followers, they’ve managed to grow a pretty sizable and loyal following of their own, providing you with an audience made up of people who could well become your brand’s next fans.