A fascinating Fortune article reached me recently. It was a feature on how brands like Sephora and LEGO are relying more and more on “superfans” to regulate their online communities.
What’s a superfan? As the author of this article, Kurt Wagner, puts it, these are the most engaged users within an online community of a brand. These are the people who comment, like, and share every Facebook Page post they see for the brand they love.
The feature points out that these fans get paid nothing to essentially patrol online conversations and discussion boards, answering questions and providing product advice. You can see why they have caught the attention of major brands.
I would take it one step further. You see, I have gotten to interact with and observe superfans within my own company’s brand. I won’t say much, except that I have always found them to be among our brand’s biggest assets, and I think we should develop a deeper strategy to capitalize on these engaged users.
The “SuperFan Strategy,” as I call it, is a focused attempt at empowering the most engaged users of an online community, similar to how Huffington Post gives more responsibility to its most influential users. Conversely, superfans of a given brand, let’s say LEGO because they are currently on the cusp of this, could be used as gatekeepers and testers for new products.
This would ensure that LEGO’s latest products are consistently creating new fans and, hopefully, superfans. I know most people would jump at the chance to be a more official advocate for a brand they love, giving them more incentives to stay loyal and active.
This type of strategy also positions the brand as a two-way communicator, constantly listening to their fan-base and being responsive.
Are there significant drawbacks to a strategy such as this? I’m not sure, though the only one that comes to mind is that a superfan can lose some credibility among the rest of a brand’s fan-base if they become a pseudo-employee, so that must be handled with care.
Otherwise, the “SuperFan Strategy” is one I expect more brands to try, as it really is a no-brainer amid the advent of social marketing strategies.
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