It’s a well-known fact that in this social media age, consumers are a major part of the brand eco-system. Through social platforms, customers have conversations with and about brands – and people are listening. According to Gartner, 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions. Chances are, if you provide a great product and service, people are recommending your brand on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. These folks are your brand ambassadors, a.k.a. superfans, and they’re 83% more likely to share information about a product than typical web users (BzzAgent). Superfans deserve appreciation, even special treatment. Recognize your brand’s superfans as a special community and as a result, deepen the superfan bond and extend positive word-of-mouth.
Top 5 Tips for Building and Engaging a Superfan Community:
1. Define Superfan Criteria
What makes a customer extra-special to your brand? Define the criteria for choosing superfans to guide your selection process. Some considerations:
- Longtime and/or frequent customers
- People who recommend your brand on blogs, Twitter, public Facebook posts, etc.
- Folks who give kudos to your brand on blogs, Twitter, public Facebook posts, etc.
- Regular conversationalists on your Facebook wall, on Twitter, etc.
- Customers who take the time to provide feedback (even if in a grouchy tone) for improving your brand’s product/service
- Supporters who forgive your brand’s flaws, mistakes or occasional mishaps
2. Keep Track of Superfans
Maintain lists of existing and potential superfans so you know exactly who deserves a little love now and then. Monitor this list on a daily basis. At Boingo Wireless, we keep track of superfans through:
- Twitter lists
- A Facebook photo gallery
- A Flickr set
- Google+ circles
Superfans also should be labeled in your CRM/CMS platform.
3. Engage Superfans
Deepen the superfan bond through authentic interactions. Hey, you already have one major common interest – your brand! So engage with superfans about topics relevant to your industry. Here are some examples of how I engage with Boingo superfans:
- Monitor the superfan Twitter list and re-tweet or reply to superfan tweets pertaining to the brand’s industry or expertise.
- Be more than just a brand — be human. Engage occasionally on topics that are important to superfans – even if these topics are irrelevant to the brand. See a superfan tweet about a recent accomplishment? Send congratulations. Did a superfan tweet about a sick pet? Give sympathy and well-wishes.
- Always thank superfans (and anyone else) for brand shout-outs and encourage suggestions for improvement.
- Be friendly, sincere and – in the words of Gary Kawasaki – enchanting.
4. Give Superfans the VIP Treatment
A formal superfan program goes beyond occasional thank yous. Show superfans how important they are to your brand’s community by giving them the VIP treatment. At Boingo, we give superfans special treatment by:
- Providing exclusive/pre-release information on products and services.
- Featuring superfans on social networks and in special initiatives. For example, Boingo superfans are featured on the blog and various social channels. They are also pictured as the “guests of honor” on a special site we built to celebrate our ten-year anniversary and recent IPO. Superfans, by design, have publicly given kudos to your brand. Reciprocate in kind with a public honoring.
- Surprising superfans with gifts. As part of the Boingo 10-year anniversary initiative, we sent superfans thank you gifts for being a part of our ten-year business growth. Every individual received a different gift based on the interests expressed through his/her social posts. The gifts were modest but the reactions of delight were priceless.
- Delivering beyond excellent customer care. Excellence should always be the standard for customer service. Every customer deserves no less. With superfans, you want to take that standard and kick it up a few notches. This can be accomplished in subtle but meaningful ways such as acknowledging a customer’s superfan status when they contact support or escalating a superfan’s inquiry to your best agent. Create an automated CRM/CMS reminder to follow up on a superfan and ensure their support issue has been truly resolved.
5. Take a No-Strings Approach
A good, effective superfan community is about strengthening the existing loyalty that certain customers have for your brand. It’s great if a deeper superfan bond results in continued or increased positive brand mentions but this shouldn’t be your core motive. Isn’t it enough that you’ve made happy customers even happier, therefore increasing the chances they will continue to buy your product/service? If superfans feel they are expected to promote or mention your brand, then some of the authentic brand affinity erodes. Don’t burden your superfans – honor and delight them!
5 Dos and Don’ts for Building and Engaging a Superfan Community:
1. Superfan Selection:
- Don’t choose superfans based on the size of their network and influence.
- Do target relevant influencers, develop a rapport and – if all goes well – consider them superfans.
2. Number of Superfans:
- Don’t make it a numbers game – it’s not about the quantity of superfans.
- Do aim for a quality list of superfans. If you continue to deliver a great product, service and level of engagement, your superfan list will grow organically.
3. Frequency of Engagement:
- Don’t stalk or pester your superfans by reaching out too many times.
- Do engage when it’s natural, e.g., customer care follow-up, thank you for kudos, re-tweet or reply tweet on a relevant topic.
4. Nature of engagement:
- Don’t make your superfans work. These are folks with genuine loyalty towards your brand and your aim is to maintain and extend that loyalty by showing your appreciation. Frequently asking superfans to promote your contests or push your new product is like asking them to work for free. Requesting product endorsements also falls into the work category and what’s more, it’s not genuine.
- Do invite superfans to participate in promotions and fun activities. Boingo superfans have judged contests and led community discussions.
5. Superfan Qualification
- Don’t make your superfan community an exclusive club. If superfan memberships are perceived as elite or closed, you’ll risk alienating people (think of customers who aren’t active or as vociferous in social networks).
- Do accept anyone who expresses genuine interest in joining the community.
Interested in learning more from Baochi Nguyen? She will be presenting on our B2B track at the upcoming Social Media Strategies Summit in Boston September 20-22. Early bird and group discounts still available. Visit our website or contact Michael Roche at Michael.email@example.com or call 888.409.4418 x4