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Why The Superfan Is The Marketing Channel Many Just Don’t Know Exist

Marketing has far too many channels. 

And far more than just social channels which many are blindly and naively chasing.

We are at the point of channel saturation and so many Marketers struggle to be able to count the channels that are relevant, the channels that are going to help you to build awareness, build out engaged audiences and build out your customers.  

During my two decades in Marketing, there is always one channel that stands the test of time and the one channel that exists in almost every industry and vertical is the self-appointed advocate. 

There is another level to this and many just do not understand, and it is The Superfan. 

There are two types of superfan:

The first: the superfan of your brand which is smaller in numbers but powerful in their promotion and support for you.

The second: the most powerful herds on the internet, the superfan of a celebrity, an influencer or a sportsperson. 

Both superfans categories have incredible power and influence around those around them and help to build the fan base around them, not just for the brand but for the products.  

Product & Brand Superfans 

The superfan goes way beyond advocates, a brilliant example of the way a community built around the superfan was Notion (freemium software).

Motion With Notion

The Notion fans go over and above what many others do for product-based companies.

The community organically record videos, upload and share them on YouTube and subreddits, build and then share their free templates and build their second brain and make it available for the other notion supporters. 

Notion supporters then vote with their views and likes and create a number of leaders within that community. The superfans build their own mini-celebrities and inflencers and support these mini-celebrities.

Notion templates are where fans turn themselves into superfans as the act of creating is being accepted into the community and then becomes an agreed behaviour to be an active part of the community. 

You have creators and trainers like Marie Poulin who turned her templates, workflows and second brain into a dedicated YouTube channel and offers a blend of free content and paid-for content. The community adopted her and support accordingly.

Notion has been smart in understanding their communities behaviour and then supported a number of creators, co-signing and co-building their statuses within their community.  

An example of Marie’s admiration of Notion’s product could be considered a Notion Superfan however where she is super smart is leveraging the product hype and smartly turned herself into a coach and a creator video and offers brilliant content like the video above.

It is important to understand, Marie is transparent in what she builds and in her video’s she openly says the pros and cons and why it may not be the platform for you.

This is a genius move and we will see smart people follow this trend in the next year to two years when many people decide to go freelance or be supported by their passion projects.

The Superfan turned business builder is an incredible resource and something most marketers wish they had at their disposal.

The questions for many right now are:
Are you looking for these types of people?
Are you leveraging the hype more than just a social share?

Special Connection

The superfan often has such connection they will support ‘their person’ by buying their merch, by supporting the brand they are endorsing or go to lengths of designing their own concepts and sending them into ‘their person’. 

Kanye West is the master in turning concert merch and merch connected to him and turning merch into an incredible revenue stream.

This is all powered by his superfans which are then baked into the culture as it crosses the chasm. 

Some celebrities build for their 16% (crossing the chasm’s equivalent of their innovators & early adopters), the superfans who will then drive and market the product, the brand or the connection to the rest of the fan base. 

The large brands that Ye have been connected with have seen huge benefits from their lines, including the likes of Adidas, Gap and fatburger and superfans and then (super)fans flock in their droves to support these lines and then endorse the brands openly.

The Flow Of The Superfan

When you look for your next flywheel or to spin up your growth engine more quickly consider how this superfan relationship may be something in your arsenal

The Superfan Flywheel

In my previous leadership role at JustGiving, I witnessed first-hand the number of incredible superfans who took their celebrities charity work or the causes they were passionate about and build numerous supporting pages and raised large amounts of money for the cause of charity. 

One superfan group I never knew existed was Benedict Cumberbatch’s superfans aka The Cumberbitches (the name was decided by themselves, here is an explainer on the superfan and Benedicts opinion on it).
The Cumberbitches raised an incredible amount of money within minutes of Benedict’s mention of supporting a cause, it drove incredible traffic and a brand new cohort of fans who were never aware of our brand, the offering we had and importantly the cause they were supporting on the behalf of their celebrity connection.  

TV presenter and personality turned businesswoman Maya Jama turned a phrase into her catchphrase and built merch and then build a brand around her beauty routines and continues to sell out every release (many are actually limited and should be considered a drop).

Other superfan groups are the BTS fans who support so many causes and the brands BTS endorse.

1D: One that still lives on strong now is the One Direction superfans. They don’t just support their music but they support their own brands they create, the endorsements they make and the causes they care about, all because they ‘know them’ through interviews, podcasts and their music.

Power Of Peloton

Emma Lovewell - Peloton Instructor Celebrity
This is an example of the instructor Emma Lovewell who has been with Peloton since the beginning and is a vital part of the instructor / rider ecosystem.

If you would like another brand that took superfans to another level it is Peloton, there are leading the way with connected fitness and having three connection areas:
1/ Subscriptions to the service
2/ Built a connection with the instructors via Facebook Groups and encouraged personalised call-outs in classes
and
3/ Deliberate building of community through product leaderboards, groups and regular classes

Read the full article on why Peloton is an inspiration to Marketers.

Peloton community member "Jess"
How Jess becomes a superfan the more times she uses it and the bigger her network becomes, many turn into superfans – read the full Peloton breakdown.

The Superfan Flywheel

What do superfans drive? 

  • Relentless social shares from superfans 
  • The superfans vote with their wallets and vote quickly, for the love of the celebrity or influencer and in a small way hope to be noticed by them 
  • Easy embedded content that they reuse and reshare on their channels, their blogs and promote in invite-only paid for communities and fan clubs. Many run groups, channels on discord and instant messenger groups.
  • Coverage – Press pick up on the activity, write about it and share, for the good news stories but also as it hits their targets of traffic, social shares and potentially selling through links in the articles. 

It is worth remembering: If the celebrity or influencer is shown in a negative light you as a connected brand may feel the wrath from the superfan.

The Future

Brand Fanclubs is such an incredible opportunity for many brands to leverage the unique one to one connection many have, it is something that will require an owner or a specialist. 

With superfans willing to wear brands and their celebrity or influencer on their chest, head and even be tattooed with their logo or faces, as previously recommended the future of marketing is the billboard and this is an area to leverage.

Hint: Free clothing as a reward, merch as a paid route.

With community going to be the next big area many Marketing leaders and brands attempt to deliver the superfan and rewarding the superfan has to be a pillar in activities. 

Maya Jama – A Powerful Example For Inspiration

The next phase of leveraging the superfan is what Maya Jama could do with her brand and endorsements via social media and Shopify, currently, it is a number of click process, however, in the discovery-based product purchasing cycle, we will see the fans and superfans be able to click and buy in one click but then powerfully receive a personalised thank you message via AI from Maya’s voice.

The cameo effect of one to one videos will be incredibly powerful for the fan and help the products to spread, especially with it being voice-based and something the fan and superfan can promote across social media and in their groups.

As suggested in my future of marketing series we will see a number of changes and the next phase of brand is being connected with your audience and building a community.

For the next phase of your Marketing, truly consider how you discover, engage and then partner/leverage the fan and the superfan and build a community for the long term success of your brand and your company.

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