Building a community of Superfans
Superfans are the life and blood of a growing company and the catalyst for having your brand seen and heard. Here are some strategies on how to foster and leverage super users. I’ve included examples of specific tactics that we found successful at SOL REPUBLIC.
Identify your Superfans
Each business has key success metrics. Identify those users who are particularly engaged by those metrics, whether its the number of visits, purchases or contributions to your brand. At the beginning, keep the threshold high so you can create more personalized relationships with the core Superfans. These are the early adopters who can help bridge the gap to acquiring more casual users. Overtime you can start to relax the criteria and open up the group to identify and create different levels of super users.
Have a Brand Voice
Because you want to get Superfans excited about this exclusive group, the name and how it’s presented are critical to the success. For example, at SOL REPUBLIC we call our fans SOLdiers of Sound and position the voice of the Superfan program using military terminology. There are calls to actions like “Enlist, Earn and Get Rewarded”. The fans level up from Cadet to Captain to Lieutenant. Our Superfans take these roles seriously, they’re ecstatic when they reach a new level and broadcast it to all their friends. Music artist do a great job of creating Superfan clubs. For example Lady Gaga: Little Monsters and Beyonce: Bey Hive. Whatever the name, make your loyalty program voice be an extension of your brand.
Create a home:
Once you have identified your Superfans, you need a platform or mechanism to engage them. An email list, forum, or private Facebook group can be a quick way gather users and start a conversation. This will primarily depend on your audience, younger audiences will gravitate more towards mobile application and chat apps while older demographic or b2b clients might feel more comfortable with email.
Start with private facebook group to start a conversation
For SOL REPUBLIC, the recruitment process was extremely proactive. We posted to our Facebook page requesting fans to submit an application on why they should be a SOLdier of Sound. The form had a few open ended questions about their interests and passions. We were amazed by the level of engagement and response, we received over 50 qualified submissions. After a few months a private Facebook group was created for our Superfans to chat with each other and the list grew to over 2,000 fairly quickly through word of mouth. Once the model was proven, the team invested in building a platform to extend the features and benefits and expose the brand to more fans. The SOLdier community is now 25,000 strong globally.
Make them part of the team.
Superfans want to help out and feel like they are part of something. It’s important that you engage them often to keep them excited about your brand.
Get Feedback: Superfans can really help provide direction on what to build next, or what can be improved. But the perception of being involved in those decisions has an even added bonus. For example, SOLdiers complete surveys on what features or important to them or vote on their favorite headband design.
Have fun and get creative. We discovered our fans really enjoy learning about music so we have Music Mondays where fans share what they were listening to. Our fans place our product on statues/monuments in their cities and submit pictures.
Fans love taking pictures of the gear
Create challenges: You’ll be surprised how far they go. SOLdiers were willing to give up their Black Friday to drop-off donuts to our retail partners. Some even went to multiple stores.
Challenges are updated weekly to keep fans coming back
Connect your fans: Connecting Superfans can have a network effect. They can help answer each others questions and be their own support group, which cuts down your customer support costs. Superfans can connect on campus or at concerts, creating greater empowerment to work as a team to promote the brand.
Rewards can come in different forms. Small gifts like t-shirt or water bottle can go a long way. A sample of your product or access to new beta services is definitely recommended.
Make them feel special: For SOLdiers on college campus, we send them a care package with snacks and some gear during midterms and finals. They love the thoughtful gesture and unexpected surprise.
Acknowledgment: Mention them on social media or in a blog post. We have a monthly award called the Distinguished SOLdier where we highlight one of the SOLdiers. We share the story of they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and give them a specially designed headband for their headphones. Another great example is where Taylor Swift posts pictures of her Superfans (Swifties) and thanks them on her Twitter feed.
Exceptional Customer service: Superfans deserve the best customer service. Try and address Superfan requests in a timely manner and if possible do something extra nice for them when they run into issues. Their loyalty to your brand can hinge on making them always feel like a VIP.
Enable them to be Evangelists
This is the key element to Superfans that brands do not always think about. Superfans can really help to elevate your brand, but you need to enable your Superfans by giving them tools to share your message.
- Give them cards to hand out to friends, family and colleagues
- Create a unique sharing links with a set number of invites
- Give them coupon codes to give their friends a discount on your product/service
- Enable sharing tools to refer friends to join the program or make purchases
We give select SOLdiers a starter package to get the word out
- Identify who your Superfans are and your objectives for the program
- Find a voice to position how you want to engage with your Superfans
- Create a home to engage, get feedback, and allow them to connect with other Superfans
- Reward and acknowledge the top Superfans to keep them motivated
- Give Superfans the tools to easily recruit new fans