Activating Facebook Superfans:
Three Key Ways Fans impact Your Community
Dan Sullivan

More and more, brands are beginning to understand the power of their superfans, a small minority of their most engaged Facebook fans that drive a significant amount of their influence. Peer-to-peer conversations have a credibility and impact that far exceeds brand to fan communications, whether it’s about world news or shower gels. When someone shares a story about how a brand makes his or her day, we listen. That’s why superfan created content on Facebook is 50% more likely to influence a purchase than branded content. However, earning these moments is a nut that most brands are working hard to crack. One thing is clear: superfan activity is rooted in authenticity and a genuine, extraordinary love for the brand.

Brands are finding that true activation is not something you can rent or buy. Credibility depends on real people saying things they really mean. Brands that succeed in activating this valuable group are those best at humanizing their best fans, understanding their motivations, and treating them like people. Social brands that think of themselves as party hosts and not podium lecturers are planting the seeds for a strong, core group of community advocates.

While superfans can significantly impact a brand’s affinity, credibility, and overall reach, they are absolutely not just amplified repeaters of what the brand is saying. Fans play a role in the brand ecosystem that brands themselves cannot. Below we’ve included three crucial roles that only the superfan can play, and tips for motivating each:

The Brand Validator:
 Praise is always stronger coming from someone else’s mouth. Take Southwest—an airline known for its customer loyalty programs and cheeky personality. No matter what new deals or promotions the company offers, Southwest is only as successful as each customer’s experience, and the vocal minority of social advocates are how these individual successes are documented and publicized. Customers post thoughts like “Been flying Southwest for years and never, ever had a single problem!” and “Such a fun airline!”. Once someone has taken the time to share excitement or appreciation for a brand on Facebook, a quick like or comment from the brand can make that individual feel valued, which motivates them to continue to spread the word.

Superfans also paint a picture of relevance by showcasing how the brand fits into their daily life—from posting a picture of a hard-earned pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream to professing why no deodorant measures up to Old Spice. By making it easy for superfans to share a personal brand experience, brands will empower the community to talk about the brand by talking about themselves, and in the process, expand their reach to a receptive audience of friends of fans.

The Friend in Difficult Times:
As hard as brands try, there’s always someone ready to try to stir up trouble or share their displeasure. Starbucks for example has been battling a false rumor that the brand does not support the military for almost ten years, dating back to a completely unfounded chain email.  It’s the committed advocates that can most adamantly refute this myth when it inevitably pops up. Recently, after one customer posted on Facebook about boycotting the brand due to discovering and believing this rumor, another responded with this comment: “I received a lot of Starbucks coffee on all four of my deployments. I don’t see where they aren’t supporting the troops.”

His words speak louder than any executive statement, making the superfan’s perspective crucial for setting the record straight.

The Inviter:
Whether you are deciding over a burrito joint, a beach book, or a new car, recommendations from friends carry the most sway by far. Engaged superfans who talk about a brand are identifying themselves to their own friends as subject matter experts for current or future needs, exposing a brand to new potential customers with tremendous credibility.

Fan communities can be great communities, but only to the extent that the best fans show up to the party and enjoy participating. A brand on Facebook is what it can motivate its best people to want to say about them. By valuing superfans as people, and not parrots, and fostering their role as an equal partner in success, superfans will shape a great experience for the less vocal majority within a brand’s Facebook community and beyond.

Are superfans a part of your Facebook strategy, and how are you motivating them? Share with us below.

Dan Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Crowdly.