A super fan is defined as someone who is inordinately dedicated to a sports team, pop music group, author, movie series, or celebrity.
Business brands have their super fans, too. As defined by FanBridge, brand super fans are “highly engaged with your campaigns and are the most likely to follow your calls to actions. They’re also the most likely to be your advocates and spread your message to others.”
Matthew Rhoden also points out in Harvard Business Review out that super fans share a sense of ownership with the brand, are more forgiving of shortcomings (such as higher prices), and support the brand in actively responding to criticism or factually incorrect statements.
As Maeghan Ouimet points out, “Extreme brand super fans have taken outlandish measures ranging from sporting a company’s logo on a coffin to eating and drinking nothing but Starbucks for a year.”
Then there’s the kid who tattooed the Google logo onto his arm.
The phenomenon of super fans is fueled in large part by the growth of social media and the ability to connect with both the brand and, most importantly, those who share enthusiasm for the brand. With their embrace of social media, the largest demographic for super fans is the millennial generation.
According to Ipsos MediaCT research, millennials spend up to five hours daily with user-generated content (i.e., blogs, chats, tweets, videos, and other forms of social media content), which they both remember and trust more other traditional media.
Generation Z represents an even larger potential pool of super fans. With the oldest member just turning 21, Generation Z represents 25 percent of the U.S. population hand has more than $44 billion in potential spending power. According to a ZinePak white paper, Generation Z is characterized by:
- Interest in the tangible. In one study, 60 percent reported preferring a “cool” product over a “cool” experience.
- Enthusiastic sharers. They are video bloggers, photo sharers, and do-it-your-selfers who love to talk about the brands they use.
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). They are continually online with social media sites, 24/7. PR Newswire reports on a survey of 1,200 members of Generation Z that 100 percent are connected at least an hour daily and 46 percent are connected more than 10 hours daily. Twenty-five percent are connected within five minutes of waking up.
How Do You Cultivate and Keep Super Fans?
- Know what your super fans value about your brand.
- Know what kind of "inside experiences" are attractive to your super fans.
- Know what new features or other aspects about your brand your super fans are interested in.
- Know what platforms super fans prefer to use to communicate among themselves, as well as with “outsiders,” to discuss your brand and share their experiences.
- Know what your super fans are willing to pay to gain access to exclusive member benefits and special promotional offers.
- Use super fans to test and evaluate new products and beta versions.
Sephora Super Fans
Cosmetics firm, Sephora is often cited as pioneer in identifying its super fans and, moreover, tracking their behavior to gain insights into their personalities and purchasing patterns.
In 2010, Sephora launched an online community called Beauty Talk. The ostensible purpose was for Sephora customers to trade beauty tips and network on the site's bulletin board. But the real value to Sephora was the user information it was able to collect.
As Fast Company reports, “Users’ accounts are linked to their social media presences and Sephora loyalty cards, giving the beauty company all sorts of access to deep user metrics neither Facebook or Twitter can offer. The site’s heaviest users spent an average of 36.5 hours on Beauty Talk weekly. These super fans also spent more than 10 times at Sephora than the average customer. Because they loved the brand so much, they naturally gravitated toward the company’s bulletin board, and gave Sephora a brand new way to conduct outreach to their biggest customers.”
Here’s What You Need to Do to Begin Harnessing Your Super Fans
- Create an online “network of shared value” where super fans can connect to one another, share experiences, make recommendations, and suggest improvements and new features.
- Develop loyalty programs that reward not only purchases, but participation in user communities.
- Provide special discounts and exclusive shopping opportunities.
- Engage super fans with contests, exclusive offers and participation in special events.
- Provide opportunities to “beta test” new products and product features.
- Ask super fans to contribute videos and photos of how they use your products and/or display your brand.
- Keep up the buzz. Refresh social media content frequently to promote discussion and participation.