Finding Your SuperFans: How to Build a Passionate Audience with #SocialListening

Harness the powerful collective network effect of a passionate relevant audience, and turn it into your most powerful marketing asset.

Your SuperFans are your most vocal proponents. They love your product and talk about it on social media and “in real life”. They don’t necessarily have big influencer profiles or Klout scores, though. So how do you find them?

When it comes to social media marketing, businesses and brands are obsessed with “influencers”. It seems that every RFP or marketing brief begins with “Find and engage influencers…” or some variation. There is only one little problem with that…

In our maturing social media landscape, influencers know their power, and they want to get PAID.

That presents a conundrum for marketers, doesn’t it?  Yes, influencers can bring reach and audience, but do you really want a bunch of paid mercenaries schilling for your brand without having a real affinity or passion for it?

You don’t.

You want people who are talking about your brand or product every day without prompting or promises of expensive junkets and gifts.  You want people that live their passion and affinity for what you do on their social media sleeves. You want them active, noisy and engaged, not only with your brand, but with each other, forming virtual communities using your brand as the connective tissue between them.

They are your amplifiers, your advocates, and your brand ambassadors.  They are your SuperFans!

And guess what?  They don’t have Klout scores.

So how do you find them? What are the “attributes” of a SuperFan?

Recently, we did a study of NBCUniversal cable shows to analyze and measure the Twitter activity around the reality shows found on their “Lifestyle” brands: Bravo, E!, and Oxygen.  We wanted to quantify fan engagement with their stars and shows compared to the stars and shows of competing networks.  

The findings were eye-opening.

Not only did they crush the competition in terms sheer volume of Tweets, reach and impressions, but we identified a trend that should bring a smile to NBCu’s face – the clear emergence of a “SuperFan” profile. Look at the profile word cloud of the fans of Bravo’s hit show, “Real Housewives of New York”:

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  • Buffer
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google+

With over 25,000 profiles analyzed, the aggregate profile trends could not have been more tightly aligned with the show and the Real Housewife franchise in general.  This same trend was seen across multiple shows and networks within the Lifestyle group.  

Perhaps more importantly for NBCu, this same passion and brand affinity was not seen for reality shows on competing networks.  Observe the profile cloud for the VH1 show, Basketball Wives:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 1.15.40 PM.png
  • Buffer
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google+

Now to be fair, the psychographics of engaged fans in Basketball Wives were strong for sure, and representative of their audience, but a powerful affinity for the show itself was nowhere to be found. Advantage NBCu!

By being able to empirically show the passion of their fans vs. their competitors, NBCu can now create a translational story, powered by social data, that can give them a potential sales advantage:

“Our viewers are more engaged with stars, our shows, our networks.  Tap into their passion by aligning your brands with our franchises.”


So what do your SuperFans look like?

There is no cookie cutter answer…it’s different for each brand, business, show. To identify your SuperFan profile, you need to start listening…now!  Don’t put it off another day.  Listen to what they are saying about your product and message.  Observe the context of how they engage with you…start to “see” the macro trends.  Begin to segment your SuperFans into buckets and listen to them separately.  See what else they are aligned with and what their network of social connections care about.  Then create a plan to make them a part of your message, not just the recipient of it.  Market with them, not just to them. They were evangelizing about your brand before you starting listening…think about what they can do with a little acknowledgment and encouragement!

So when you think about the attributes of your SuperFans, consider these traits vs. traditional “influence” metrics:

  • How often do they talk about you, and in what context?
  • Do they mention your brand in their bio, location or Twitter handle?
  • Look at Tweet frequency – the more active, the better
  • Are they on other social nets, like Instagram or Facebook

Remember, most of your SuperFans don’t have Klout scores, and if they do, they are typically very low.  

And don’t forget this: your SuperFans have powerful offline networks, substantially more powerful than their online ones…this is where the real evangelizing and word-of-mouth happens.  

Give me 100 SuperFans vs. 1 “influencer” any day.  They want to go to work for you, and sway opinion about your product!

One more thing: If you are ever analyzing Twitter data and come across people that say they live on Honeymoon Ave…don’t scratch your head.  That is where the SuperFans of @ArianaGrande live 🙂



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