Have you ever wondered what kind of superpower you would get if you could? Invisibility? The power to fly? What about a marketing superpower? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your brand in front of huge numbers of potential customers, with next to no budget? And what if the content you were sharing had much better conversion rates than content created in-house, and increased brand loyalty?
We’re here to tell you that the holy grail of marketing is more than just an idea on paper. With a little patience and the right tools, you can achieve what we think is the ideal marketing strategy for 2021, and you’ll do it by teaming up with your very own powered-up heroes: your brand super-fans.
What and who are super-fans?
A super-fan is pretty much what you would imagine. Super-fans love your brand so much they’re highly engaged with your communications and are evangelical about your product. Super-fans love the way you do your thing, and they are proud to share their brand pride with those around them. By lining themselves up with your brand and everything they stand for, they are telling the world something about themselves.
Some super-fans create content around your brand. Some forms of user-generated content, or UGC for short, are simple yet effective – reviews, photos featuring your brand, or an unboxing video are just some examples. Others could be more informative, such as product demonstrations, video tutorials, or even unusual creative content celebrating your brand.
Why involve super-fans in your marketing?
These enthusiastic champions already love your brand, and it turns out that brand love is infectious. Super-fans help increase your social share of voice by getting their user-generated content out to their immediate contacts and casual browsers. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust earned media such as recommendations from their peers more than traditional media. Authentic content from super-fans cannot be manufactured or faked. Authenticity breeds trust and loyalty, and crucially helps convert the casual window shopper into a customer. Research by Adweek shows that user-generated content from real customers results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns or websites without it. In addition, compared to expensive influencers who often have follower lists in the region of 100k to 1m+, when brands reach out to super-fans, these fans can act as micro influencers, who often have more time to reach out to individuals and build relationships. The difference being these individuals already love and are loyal to your brand.
All of this doesn’t sound bad for a hands-off marketing campaign, does it? In fact, many young brands have built their businesses on the principle of superfan and community marketing. Young brand Gymshark disrupted the sportswear space by placing their most engaged fans front and centre on their social media channels and elsewhere online. By sharing photos, and crucially, the stories of their super-fans, they encouraged brand-love and gained a sense of authenticity that money can’t buy.
Even established brands such as Lego have been getting in on the action. By harnessing the power of community and superfans, Lego’s community website, Lego Ideas, invites super-fans to submit new builds using existing Lego kits. These designs are put to a community vote and have the chance to be turned into a commercial product, with the winning designer earning 1% of royalties.
When it comes to scouting for super-fans, who has time to scour social media?
User-generated content technologies have become increasingly popular amongst brand marketers. These are software-as-a-service platforms that leverage AI listening capabilities to discover and curate images, videos and reviews from super-fans and ordinary customers via brand @mentions, hashtags and tags. Traditionally, brands would request consent to use content discovered and the dialogue with the super-fan would end there. But today, with the introduction of Community platforms, brands are now able to invite those individuals into a community experience, where brands can seek feedback, brief for more content and reward super-fans in ways they deem appropriate.
By listening and understanding how consumers interact with your brand on social media, you can identify which communities have something meaningful to say about your products and services and invite these individuals into your community.
And while it’s true that you can speak to communities through social media, branded communities are 13% more likely to have an impact on customer experience than social media communities (Vanilla forums, Online Communities: The benefits and Impacts on Organisations 2019).
Working with a community of super-fans
Getting a community of super-fans to take off takes a little patience, and a slightly different skill set than usual, but you will be rewarded with a community that takes care of itself and grows. By inviting your super-fans into a brand community, you give them a space to communicate with other super-fans and the brand, allowing them to forge fulfilling connections with like-minded individuals and strengthening their bond with your brand. Here, you can talk to your super-fans one-or-one or to a group.
At first, you might feel a little awkward asking your super-fans to create UGC for you, but research shows that more than 50% of consumers want a brand to tell them what type of content to create and share (Merkley & Partners). Digital brand communities give marketing managers an opportunity to get creative and have some fun setting challenges super-fans will love, and they provide a neat way to collate and redistribute content produced too. And when super-fans see you showcase their hard work on your social media and beyond, they’ll feel valued, motivated, and ready for the next challenge.
Letting your community of super-fans flourish
By gathering all your super-fans into a community you may find that you inspire feelings of exclusivity in your super-fans and others, which is great for recruitment. And when you’ve reached the point where you’ve got a community that’s growing by itself with only the lightest of moderation, encouraging more super-fans to step forward and support you in championing your brand, you know you’ve really hit the marketing sweet spot. And isn’t that something worth getting super-excited about?
About Toby Britton, co-founder of Miappi
Toby is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Miappi. Toby has been involved in the creative and communications industries since mid-nineties when he started working for independent TV production companies in the production of documentary films. In 2001 he transferred his film making skills marketing and advertising before starting to focus on digital projects. It was these agency-side projects that led Toby to start the business that would evolve into Miappi. Today, Toby oversees the design, development and marketing of Miappi.
Miappi is SaaS marketing platform powered by consumer-generated content. Our technology helps brands to discover and harness these authentic stories in order to drive consumer engagement and increases conversions. Miappi helps Enterprise our clients to discover, curate and license the very best visual content (images, videos and comments) from social media platforms, review sites and from direct upload. The platform then makes it easy to publish the best of that content to websites, digital signage, live event screens, email campaigns and paid advertising.