Wish to grow a strong online brand? One that triggers intense affection and loyalty among your social media followers?
Start by building a community of super fans!
Thanks to Pat Flynn—host of the super popular Smart Passive Income Podcast—we now have a systematic strategy to foster and nurture loyal fans on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or any other social media platform!
In this article, you will learn the three-part strategy to fostering super fans from his book Superfans—The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build a Success Business. I will also share some of the caveats of building a community in the online world.
In short, you will learn…
- Why Superfans Matter
- The Pyramid of Fandom
- How to turn a Casual Viewer into an Active Audience
- How to turn your Active Audiences into members of a Connected Community
- How to transform your Connected Community members into Superfans
Ready to boost your social media marketing efforts big time? Let’s go!
Who Are Superfans and Why Do They Matter
First things first. Who are superfans?
According to Flynn, a superfan is a “hardcore ambassador for the object of your fandom. You wave that flag high, and you wave it proud. You tell your family and friends about it, even if they don’t want to hear it. You take pictures and immediately share them on social media. You might even start a YouTube channel or a podcast about it, and over time, you’ll influence even more people to start loving this thing.”
Superfans invest time, money, and emotions in the object of their love. They are the most important stakeholders of your business.
So why do fans matter? Well, they can be very profitable for any business.
Heard of the 1,000 True Fans rule by Kevin Kelly (senior editor of Wired)?
It goes like this…
If you have just one thousand true fans (people who will buy anything you produce), and each of your true fans provides $100 profit per year for your art, your craft, or your business, you can build a six-figure business right away!
Thus, while you should build your marketing funnel to nurture your target audiences to become paying customers, the long-term sustainability of your business is dependent on your ability to create raving superfans in your communities.
The Pyramid of Fandom
A core part of Pat Flynn’s premise is that not all fans are equal. Superfans sit at the top of what he calls the Pyramid of Fandom. Here’s how it looks like:
Courtesy of Agorapulse
This is a flip of the traditional digital marketing funnel. There are four tiers of audiences for your brand here:
- Casual Audience: These make up the largest segment of your audience, who may come to your brand via a link, mention, recommendation, search result, social media post, or video. They are your viewers and casual audiences.
- Active Audience: These are people who actively follow your brand, and may consume whatever you share, create, publish or post on social media. They are active members of your tribe, and are your fans on Facebook or subscribers to your email list.
- Connected Community: These are members who not only consume your content, but converse with each other. They have a strong brand identity, and will comment, feedback and provide inputs to your business. They may also invest more in your products and services.
- Superfans: Finally, your superfans! These are people who literally eat, breathe and live your brand. They are likely to buy anything that you produce, and may even be co-opted to co-produce your new product or service. Your best superfans may eventually become your hires!
How to Turn Casual Visitors into Active Audiences
At the base of the Pyramid of Fandom are your casual audiences. These are folks who were previously unaware of your brand and have stumbled across it.
To turn them into active audiences, consider these strategies.
#1 Listen and Learn Their Language
Use social listening tools to “hear” what your targeted fans and customers are saying online—particularly those in your communities. Tap groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, or browse forums to see what topics they are keen on. In the search bar for each, type in the following:
- “why is it”
- “when can I”
- “what are the”
- “what is the”
- “how come I”
- “need help”
- “please help”
- “I need”
- “help with”
You can also ask them questions such as the following:
- What kinds of solutions have you tried so far?
- Describe your biggest challenge related to __________
- If you can solve your problem with a magic wand, what would you want resolved?
Do also talk to them verbally. This brings out quite a lot of the points they face.
#2 Break The Ice
Show a little skin. Let them know who you are, and post your own backstory.
(Here’s my story—just in case you’ve missed it!)
In crafting your own story, consider using something as simple as a post on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Or record a video episode on YouTube.
Keep this casual and informal, and don’t try to monetize it.
#3 Create Quick Wins for Your Community
Give your followers, fans and subscribers some low-hanging fruit. This could be in the first email which they receive. Or a landing page where they go to.
These quick wins can be a “101 series” type of content—perhaps a mini-course that’ll help them to do well. Or a challenge that they can participate in.
Your goal here is to start rewarding people liking your page, following your account, or subscribing to your channel for free.
#4 Drive the Delorean (Show Them Future Possibilities)
This has a Back To The Future reference—one where your goal is to show your casual visitors what they can achieve in the future. Here are some ways to do so:
- Tell them a story to show how their problem can be solved
- Provide examples of transformation, using your solution
- Showcase evidence of transformation through customer testimonials
To collect these positive stories, gather inputs from your customers on their before (what their life was like before they worked with/learned from you), after (how their life changed after doing so), and the what ifs (what life would be like if they haven’t followed your advice).
(Check out Donald Miller’s Storyplot structure for a good example how this can be done.)
#5 Return Every Handshake
Acknowledge your audiences who bother to reply to your posts, or comment on your stories.
Reply every email. Respond to every comment—regardless of whether they are positive or negative!
How to Turn Active Audiences into a Connected Community
At this stage, your goal is turn casual browsers of your social media channels into active participants—subscribers, followers, regular listeners, and readers.
Here, there are eight strategies you can use to make them feel that they belong.
#6 Let Them Take a Shot
Get your fans involved in your product or service. Ask a question related to your business or brand and seek their participation.
Crowdsource for ideas and see if you can even reward the best answers with a prize!
The idea here is to get your fans to converse on your platform.
#7 Let Them Decide
Do a poll (easily done on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter), and give your fans the chance to make a decision in your business.
This can be anything from the next product or service you should roll out, the cover of your next book (use a “this” or “that” image), or the name of your fan community. Such an action will deepen their sense of ownership for your brand.
#8 Create a Challenge
Spur your audience to do something that is achievable but still challenging. As they are in the process of doing so, keep their motivation going with success stories and inputs or ideas on how they can succeed in the challenge.
Think about the following in your challenge:
- Activities that will bring people closer together
- Length of the challenge (not too long—a week is a good duration)
- How often the challenge will be launched
- How the challenge will be delivered—via videos on your Facebook page, or Instagram account, or an email?
- Provide a place to facilitate community engagement during the challenge. This can be a WhatsApp or Telegram group, or a Facebook Messenger Group
#9 Open Your Factory (Go Behind the Scenes)
Show them your production facilities! This can be through a physical tour of your workspaces, or a virtual one.
You can use Instagram or Facebook Stories to shoot your team hard at work, or trace the process of how your product is manufactured.
Going under the curtain gives your audience something special to look forward to. It connects your fans to the people behind your brand, and demonstrates the quality and care you put into creating your product or service.
#10 Stage a Gig (Organise an Event)
Lights, cameras and action! Think like a Hollywood producer—only one who involves the audience in the show!
Here are some things to consider:
- Think about whether your event should be online or physical—for online events, consider platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, LinkedIn Live, or YouTube Live to stream your show.
- Make sure that your platform is one where the bulk of your audiences hang out
- Set a date and time and announce it to your audience
- When you go “Live” think about the three tips that you can share with them
#11 Name Your Community
Does a rose by any other name smell just as sweet? Not when you can’t “smell” the roses from a screen!
When you do so, ensure that its catchy and memorable, captures the spirit of your brand, and is original enough not to be confused with others.
(I’m considering Cooler Insiders ? for my online community—do you like it?)
#12 Bring Them Closer (through Meetups)
Physical meetups or virtual ones (Zoom anyone) can be helpful in connecting your social media community.
This can be as simple as a coffee gathering or as complex as a three-day conference.
Use the events tools on social media (Facebook has some nifty ones), or websites like meetup.com and eventbrite.com.
#13 Feature Your Fans (Let Them Shine!)
Don’t just hog the limelight all the time—feature your community members.
There are many ways to do so:
- Interview them on a podcast, or a blog article
- Interview them on a video that can be shared on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn
- Write a short post on them
- Feature them in your emails
- Make it a Q&A piece of content, or allow them free reign to write what they like
- Try to include a photo or visual of your fan if possible
How to Turn Your Connected Community to Superfans!
Yes, this is what you’re waiting for isn’t it? The final stage to create even deeper brand loyalty and commitment from your most ardent fans.
Your goal here is to focus on the unforgettable moments and experiences you’ll be creating to make superfans for life.
Here, Pat Flynn offers four strategies.
#14 Remember The Lemons
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”—Dale Carnegie
Look out for your fans and connect with them individually, both online and offline.
See if you can identify those who regularly interact with you on social media. Follow them back. Better yet, interact with their posts, comments, and stories!
Scroll through their timelines and see what they post about. When they comment on your post or show up on your live stream, say something specific about them. You’ll be amazed at what this can do for them—and for you!
#15 Send Unexpected Personal Messages
This one is ninja-level good, but can be tough to do. Your goal here is to not only interact with your fans, but send them a personal message—on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, WhatsApp, or email.
A cool way to do is to record a video of yourself talking to them. Yes, this is going to take nerves for the shy ones (like me)! You can also consider a tool like Bonjoro to send personalised video messages to them via email.
#16 Get Them Involved
Consider how your fans can be directly involved in your brand.
This can include hiring your fans to become your team members (ultimate goal). Or it can just be getting them to become your community moderators on Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp or Instagram.
Maybe they can help you to curate content to be shared on your channels? Or they can help you to run some part of your community—suitably compensated and rewarded of course!
#17 Create a VIP Experience
Develop a platinum access programme for your online community. Such VIP experiences can include additional value—for example access to you or your CEO via a private webinar or chat group.
Make this VIP experience exclusive. In fact, consider making it an invite-only programme.
Superfans is one of those books that I find difficult to put down. It offers so much value and insight in so compact a package.
What I’ve covered are just the 17 techniques covered in the book. There are lots more you can learn when you get a copy.
Beyond the tips and tricks shared by Pat Flynn, you can also access the following bonus materials for free:
Do you have an active online community? What strategies do you use to build your own Superfans?