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In my last post, I intro­duced you to your new BFF: the super­fan. I know you can’t wait to embark on a long, fruit­ful rela­tion­ship with your most loyal, vocal, valu­able cus­tomers. But some of you might be think­ing, “Sounds great! Just one teeny tiny ques­tion: Who are my super­fans and how do I find my them?”

If you don’t already know them, chances are your super­fans are in hid­ing or dis­guise. They’re like Super­man before he under­stood his pow­ers or Bat­man before he found his rea­son to fight. You need to know how to iden­tify them so you can moti­vate and nur­ture their spe­cial pow­ers. To help you recruit your own league of super­fans, I’ve out­lined three types of peo­ple to tar­get. Each “type” offers a dif­fer­ent form of super value.

1. The Enthu­si­ast, aka Luke Skywalker

Remem­ber Luke Sky­walker before he knew how to use the force? He couldn’t be dis­cour­aged. He knocked down Yoda’s door and begged to be trained. He had energy, enthu­si­asm, ded­i­ca­tion, and loy­alty in spades. He just need to be trained. Embrace your enthu­si­asts so you can be the Yoda to their Luke.

Luck­ily, they’re the eas­i­est super­fans to spot. The enthu­si­ast is the fan page mod­er­a­tor who tweets you three times a day and patrols forums to make sure peo­ple know how awe­some you are. They are gen­er­at­ing con­tent about your brand on a reg­u­lar basis, fueled by pure love. That doesn’t exactly mean anyone’s lis­ten­ing to them, yet. That’s where you step in, offer­ing them a more vis­i­ble plat­form for their con­tent and pulling them into your social loop. Fea­ture their con­tent on your pages; retweet, like, and share what they do; and encour­age oth­ers to do the same. If you return their love and reward them with inside perks and spe­cial atten­tion, they will be for­ever loyal.

The value will come back to you ten­fold in the form of authen­tic con­tent. This super­fan will become even more vocal and actively engaged in dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ties. The con­tent mar­ket­ing they gen­er­ate is invalu­able to your brand because it’s gen­uine (i.e., trust­wor­thy) and can touch audi­ences who are inclined to ignore brand messaging.

2. The Influ­encer, aka Iron Man

Iron Man’s unmasked iden­tity is pow­er­ful bil­lion­aire engi­neer Tony Stark. He throws lav­ish par­ties, builds sky­scrap­ers, and makes women swoon. In other words, he’s got seri­ous clout. Iron Man’s dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent is the social media maven with a wildly pop­u­lar Tum­blr blog, viral videos, and their own superfans.

The one prob­lem with influ­encers is every­one wants a piece of them. This per­son may or may not know a thing about your brand, and you’re com­pet­ing for his or her atten­tion. Your tac­tic is to intro­duce Tony Stark to your brand and court him with highly unique incen­tives. If you can find out what he val­ues and make a bet­ter offer than your com­peti­tors, Iron Man just might embla­zon your logo on his chest.

The value of the influencer’s endorse­ment is unbeat­able. When a per­ceived author­ity advo­cates for your brand, peo­ple take note. Most of us are far more likely to act on a rec­om­men­da­tion from a real per­son than click on a ban­ner ad. The social cap­i­tal of this super­fan is their own net­work of fol­low­ers. If they can ignite their per­sonal audi­ence, it’ll be a wild­fire of new fans for you.

To keep them loyal, how­ever, you will need to uncover some­thing unique that only your brand can offer them. Oth­er­wise, they may jet off with another shiny new brand.

3. The Lifer, aka Robin

Robin is Batman’s loyal side­kick. He is strong, fast, capa­ble, and per­fectly con­tent to play a sup­port­ing role and let Bat­man take the lead. He trusts the caped cru­sader with his life, and he’s got his back, no mat­ter what. The lifer is your already loyal cus­tomer in the shad­ows. Lif­ers make reg­u­lar repeat pur­chases and are highly sat­is­fied, although they haven’t really engaged with your social mar­ket­ing efforts. They don’t have much of a fol­low­ing and aren’t very active on any plat­forms, but they have tremen­dous potential.

What makes Robin great? He’s grate­ful and feels indebted to Bat­man. If Bat­man asks for help, Robin is happy to oblige. If you ask a lifer nicely, they’ll be glad to leave a review or retweet your lat­est pro­mo­tion. Espe­cially if you make the process sim­ple and reward­ing. Give them access to more perks and inside tips through social so it becomes a nat­ural and com­pelling exten­sion of their offline rela­tion­ship with your brand.

The life­time cus­tomer value of any super­fan is off the charts. But the lifer is par­tic­u­larly primed to upgrade their ser­vice or buy the lat­est prod­uct model with the slight­est nudge. Instead of pour­ing mar­ket­ing dol­lars into aware­ness build­ing cam­paigns that might gen­er­ate a 1 per­cent con­ver­sion rate from new cus­tomers, a sim­ple email to your most loyal super­fans can yield wind­fall profits.

How Do I Acti­vate My Superfans?

The key to acti­vat­ing your super­fans is to build a rela­tion­ship with them. Reach out, pull them into your inner cir­cle, and offer them the atten­tion and value you hope for in return. And be sure to make it easy for them to review and rec­om­mend you and to cre­ate more impres­sions for your brand. Hav­ing high-quality, sharable con­tent read­ily avail­able for them to tweet or repost is your job as part of the super duo.

If you’d like to be part of a more in-depth dis­cus­sion of acti­vat­ing and deriv­ing value from your super­fans, vote to bring my panel to SXSW 2014. Don’t for­get to cast your vote by Sep­tem­ber 6, 2013!

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