While most commonly associated with sports, Super fans come in all shapes and sizes with interests that are just as varied. They are the ones who queue up for hours to be the first ones to see a new movie, buy a new iPhone or to be front row for their favorite band.
But it’s much more than just about them being loyal customers. Super fans go further, they promote you, support you and actively ‘evangelize’ others to help grow your fan base. So today we’ll be taking a look at just a few of the ways that these wonderful and passionate people can do to help you or your company, as well as taking a look at a few of the risks involved that you should watch out for.
Modern consumers are, by and large, a savvy bunch. Traditional advertising methods have been observed to be increasingly ineffective, particularly when it comes to attracting the teen and young adult demographic. As most of you will know, it was this concern combined with the advent of social media that led to the rise of the “Influencer”. While it doesn’t quite count for influencers who receive compensation for their efforts, many influencers are not directly compensated at all, doing everything they do not with a marketing goal or agenda, but only out of a genuine love for what you or your company have created.
And that authentic enthusiasm for your products definitely seems to come through to audiences who are much more likely to make a purchase decision based on advice and opinions from an influencer over traditional advertising methods, with one study showing that only 15% of Americans and 10% of Europeans responded to traditional advertising while an average of 92% from both groups responded well to influencer who promoted or praised your products. For a savvy marketer, a little appreciation for these Super fans and what they create, such as featuring them on the company website, inviting them to special events or just tweeting about them and what they do, can go a very long way in securing their continued loyalty over the years.
There are also quite a few things that influencers do that you can incorporate into your own brand’s social media strategy to help you be more engaging, authentic and make a bigger impact in the social media marketing space. If you’ve not already checked it out, have a look at our Twitter marketing guide to see how we can help you easily manage your various social accounts and plan your strategy
Community and Social Engagement
Super fans love your product and want to share that love with others. They form social groups, fan clubs, subreddits and Youtube channels dedicating thousands of man-hours to analyzing and appreciating what you have created. This can apply to anything, from Harley Davidson to Harry Potter, people with similar interests want to share their enthusiasm with each other and Super fans are the ones who make that happen.
In some cases the community can grow to the point that it becomes as much of a selling point as the product you’re selling. For example let’s look at the Arduino, a little computer control unit that is often used by hobbyists to create everything from DIY electronics to autonomous robots and drones. The community surrounding the Arduino platform has grown to the point that there are thousands of projects available online, to cater to every skill level and with detailed instructions for assembly and coding.
The simple fact that Arduino has so much ‘after market’ support has been instrumental in making it one of the most popular platforms for small scale electronics. And that is almost entirely thanks to the many die-hard fans who, with some support from the manufacturer, created a vast community of electronics enthusiasts and hobbyists who all work with the platform and share both their creations as well as offering feedback and guidance to other younger or more inexperienced “builders”.
User Generated Content
Now this one is a divisive topic for a number of reasons and while we could (and maybe should) do a whole post about UGC, for today we’ll keep it brief and focus mainly on the positive aspects. While user-generated content from super fans exists across all forms of media, and are responsible for coining the terms fan-art and fan-fiction; the sector most prominently effected by user generated content is undoubtedly the video game industry.
User made modifications to games, commonly referred to as ‘mods’, have helped add lasting appeal to many old titles that would have otherwise been forgotten. These mods, created by Super fans of the game who wish to enhance or modify it in some way, may range from something tiny, to massive overhauls that rival the original in their size, scope and even quality.
Games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which launched in 2011 are prime examples of the power of mods to extend a game’s lifetime and keep people interested and playing for years. Where most games reach peak consecutive users a few weeks or months after their release with players then dropping off in favor of other, newer titles, Skyrim, bucks this trend, reaching its peak only in April, 2015, over three years after its initial release. This sort of ‘long tail’ is exceedingly rare, particularly for media, where films make most of their money in a few weeks at the box office with a second bump to revenue with the home release on discs or streaming services.
Driven by little more than a love for a particular property, modders have been instrumental in helping many older games stay popular and relevant well past their natural retail and marketing cycle would indicate. That said, modding is not without its potential for controversy since it exists in legal gray area given the potential for infringement of copyright laws or EULA violations.
Try not to give them a reason to turn on you
Super fans are always passionate about what they like; as a direct result are usually quite protective of it. This can sometimes be problematic for product owners or intellectual property holders in a number of ways down the line.
A fairly prominent example was the initial resistance to the reviving of the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. While both these franchises did have successful re-launches and have come to be accepted by most fans, there was a great deal of initial backlash against both revival efforts that, curiously, were not led by those who disliked the original films or TV shows, but by those who were the most passionate fans of that original work.
Another, more recent example which didn’t work out quite as well, was the decision taken by digital publisher Take Two Interactive to ban all forms of modifications or mods to their games. Rockstar Games, creators of the critically acclaimed and wildly successful Grand Theft Auto series of video games, among others, is owned by Take Two Interactive and as a result, the once prominent ‘modding’ community around Rockstar’s various titles essentially disappeared overnight.
While the long term effects of this move are unlikely to impact the company’s bottom line to a great degree, it did cost them quite a great deal of good will from the community. The short term result was a P.R. nightmare for Rockstar seeing the review rating of their most recent title Grand Theft Auto 5 from the high 90s to just 14% in a matter of days as angry fans protested the decision by posting negative reviews on Steam, the leading digital game retail platform. This is especially striking because Rockstar Games have often courted controversy, finding themselves the target of conservative groups and the media. But where they could previously rely on the support of their massive fan base to rally in their defense, today they find themselves targeted by their own loyal fans who feel betrayed by the company and its decision. However, it appears a resolution could be on the horizon as Rockstar Games have stated that they are working on a solution; though the hit to their image in the eyes of fans could persist.
The bottom line is, while you will and must occasionally be willing to take actions that may be unpopular once you develop a loyal following , it’s often in your best interest to take their thoughts and concerns into consideration with your fan following; unless you want to run the risk of turning your most loyal allies into your loudest detractors.