Superfans

Posted on December 22, 2015

‘Whatever you want to call them, be it power users or super fans, they all basically function as brand ambassadors who just don”t work for you. Super Fans make up a very small percentage of your customer or user base, just 1%. Then you have about 9% of users who interact with your brand, but don”t create things, and the remaining 90 are the “lurkers”; The ones that use your stuff but don”t care about it, or they do care, but just not enough to do anything.\r\n

On a Large Scale:

Dell, Apple, and Lenovo all use super fans in their user support forums to lower the overall cost and customer wait time. They are responsible for generating over twelve thousand knowledge articles to Lenovo’s library, which they do for a bit of recognition and at very little cost.

Sony Europe really does a great job of engaging their fans. Check out this interview with Nico Henderijckx, the European forum manager and CM for Sony.

That”s Nice. What About Me?

So that is all well and good, but now the important question is how can they help you.

My Kids

Before I knew what a super fan was, I just called them my kids, the kids, or E6’s kids. I didn’t know there were already terms for what they were, I just knew they cared and were generating me content.

The first group was made up of Adam, Carrie, and Remington. I knew they were special because even when we had twenty thousand users, I still remembered their names. They posted a lot, helped other users and were already creating culture on the site without prompting, so I reached out to them.

Carrie originally sent me an internal message, apologising as she thought she broke the site. She had actually found a bug and gave me all the particulars and my response was to give her my internal email. I told her that if she broke anything like that again, I was happy to hear about it, and she could email me if she liked and I could get back to her more quickly. She didn”t know how valuable that message was to me.

Adam was the first user to actively help other users. He would explain how things worked inside the site and how to use the linking feature inside the internal messaging board. I ended up sending him a thank you note and a gift card. To this day, three years later, he still helps users with the same problem (you think we would have fixed it).

We would ask them “What would you like to see on the site?” and get great feedback. We created new sections of the message board, just to have them tell us what they hated, what they loved, and what they wanted us to change. We used that data to better connect with other students.

Courtside Sneakers

Courtside Sneakers is a sneaker shop in PEI run by a guy named Nathan, I had worked with him years ago and when he opened the store I started shopping there and reconnected with him.

A Shirt and Sunglasses

I also realized about halfway through writing the presentation this post is on that I am actually a super fan of his store and I never even thought of it. I have his cell number because I buy so much from him, that he sent it to me so that I could check on order statuses when new shoes are released.

The reason that I became a super fan? He put a free shirt and sunglasses in my first order because of how many times I had shared his photos and his release dates on my social feeds. I was already a sneakerhead, so I shared some of his posts, but it wasn”t until I opened my first big order from Nathan that I became a super fan. The shirt was the right color to match my shoes and he did it without any reason other than to show appreciation. I now share more posts, check his page more frequently and will tag him in every single purchase I make from his store. Also…I just wrote the store into a blog post and a presentation…

They Can Be Perfect Strangers

Nathan has a regular customer who once ordered some cousin Balki custom socks and a pair of ultimate warrior ones, as the guy is totally obsessed with the 80”s. Nathan had no idea who they were going to but he did a great job creating them and that resulted in his socks being seen by over 3000 people on Instagram.

Now this doesn’t always lead to sales, but what it did lead to was a lot of questions sent to Nathan by people who had never even heard of his socks before. This allowed him to show off a brand new product and in a really short time frame, get customer feedback, and refine how he talked about the product.

How To Identify Them?

Well, they won”t have any idea they are special, they just like your stuff! You have to find them yourself, but it’s not too hard. They’re always the ones talking about your product. They will be sharing, posting, or tweeting to you, and they also have a higher than average use or purchase rate. They are often buying ten times more than the average user, so if you plot out sales data you can find them by the numbers. These are the people standing in line for an iPhone like it’s Star Wars: Episode One (hopefully the phone is better than that though).

More than anything, go with your gut. You probably already know their names if you think about it. You might have thousands of customers, but when you see that one customer or user and think “oh, Adam is helping people again,” that”s your super fan! Go talk to them.

How to High Five Them?

So you want to make them feel special?

Everyone likes to behind a velvet rope, it”s just how the world works. If you are in a night club the VIP area is always alluring. Sure, it’s almost exactly like the rest of the bar, but it feel nice to be special for a bit. That is the feeling you want to re-create for your users.

I once gave a user my personal email because they had been awesome on the site. I told them if they had any questions they should email me and I would get back to them as quickly as I could. This right here is enough to make most users feel special, but you need to prove it to them as well. This user emailed me when they were at a house party with a question. They had mentioned they won a scholarship from us and one of their friends had said that after winning one, they probably wouldn’t win another. I got this email at 1am (they were about 4 hours behind me) and I knew I had to get back to them ASAP because they cared enough to talk about our site at a party. I went to my computer and found that their were three users that had won more than one scholarship, and I sent her the links. This user has since won another scholarship and has even brought up that she got to feel like a big deal at the party. To me it was a simple email but to her she got to respond to a friend”s question, after office hours, with an email from the company because she, unlike most people, could email me directly on my cell phone.

Special news and sneak peeks are also very influential. I’ve had mailing lists of a small batch of users that I would send info to about new features first, and at some points I had those users on the development environment of E6 so that they could see what the site was going to look like before anyone else too. They then went back to the regular site and let other users know about what was coming with more emotion than any press release or admin post ever could.

Special Events

If you own a brick and mortar store you can even do special events on site. Years ago I was a waiter with a catering company, and was brought in to do a MAC makeup event. They were releasing a new product line so they invited those with high purchases and people that knew the employees to the launch of their new line. They were given samples, special access to the store after hours, all with Hors d”oeuvres and Champaign. I have never seen customers this pumped, not just for a product but for an experience. These are the customers that go home and make a YouTube video of the products, or they make posts to r/MakeupAddiction. For the small cost of a private event they have created potentially 50 product evangelists and super fans.

Stuff to Check out!

You can do a lot with super fans and I haven”t covered all of it in this post if you want some amazing in-depth stuff go check out The Science of Social! This book took me from referring to my SF’s as My kids to really knowing how powerful they are and how I could gain more reach by engaging them more.


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