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Scarcity, loyalty and exclusivity: tips to grow superfan engagement

As we’ve discussed before, many digital strategists struggle with finding a balance between engaging a core group of superfans or focusing on lower levels of engagement with a larger pool of fans.  At Sparked, we believe in growing your superfans so that you have a bigger base of really passionate brand advocates.

Current social media technologies are limiting in the tools they provide for community management: less than 1% of fans engage with Facebook content and Twitter shows the same content for all of your Facebook fans.  With the Customer Advisory Board, brands see fan engagement of between 10% to 20%.

But how can you grow this group of superfans?  Here are some quick tips to turn your passive fans into superfans:

1.  Provide some friendly competition

Want to try out new brand messaging or product view?  Create a contest through the Customer Advisory Board and get feedback on from your social media brand ambassadors all in one place.  The reward for giving feedback to their favorite brands is enough incentive to keep coming back to participate in more activities.  A leaderboard will also drive your fans superfans to engage more with your content.

2.  Stay up-to-date

This may sound obvious, but keep track of industry news and form your activities around trending topics related to your product.  It’s likely that your fans are following the news as well, and have opinions about best practices and what’s going on in the industry.

3. Recognize engagement

Your superfans want to feel that they’re being recognized for all the work they’re doing for your brand.  When your fans reach a new level, or unlock a badge, give them a shoutout on Twitter or Facebook that they’re doing great work for your brand.  These shout outs will create awareness throughout your less active fans that there is opportunity for rewards.

4.  Game mechanics of scarcity

The concept of diminishing resources is not new.  Applying this concept to motivating your superfans will spur them to act faster to reach new levels and participate in more activities.  For example, provide a reward for the first 10 users once they reach a certain level and make sure that you notify the rest of your community that you reward participation. This is especially relevant for eCommerce companies, since scarcity and exclusivity can really drive users to interact with your content.

5.  Building a culture of innovation and creativity

Your most loyal fans want to feel like they are a part of your brand.  Asking for feedback on products or to brainstorm on campaigns is a great way to get real-time feedback and drive engagement.  Plus, your fans might come up with some great ideas that you can use in their next campaign.  Do you have trouble coming up with trending hashtags? Ask your fans what they think the next hashtag should be.

5 tips to generate consumer advocacy

domestic lifeMarketers are shifting their focus from courting “likes” on their Facebook page to generating content that their fans want to share. When a consumer shares content, they are endorsing it to their extended network. This is especially significant for marketers because consumers are really paying attention to what their friends are buying, sharing or liking.  68% of Facebook users are more likely to buy based on an earned media (such as a share or comment) from a friend.

Facebook has even updating its algorithm to adapt to the increased value of shares.  Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm gives up to 1,300 times more weight to shares than likes, when it comes to the content that users see at the top of their feed.

Brands know that content is king.  The trick is to generate the right kind of content that gets your fans buzzing and bringing them back for more.

1. Brand engagement or click bait?

The shift from likes to shares has forced many brands to rethink the type of content they’re posting on their Facebook page. While a photo of a cute puppy might get a lot of likes, it’s not building overall brand engagement or adding to the overall brand story. Creating meaningful content such as an infographic or case study will increase your engagement and build up advocacy.

2. Give them something exclusive

Giving your fans a unique offer in exchange for a share can be a really powerful motivator.  Especially for the social shoppers out there, sharing content with their community in exchange for a coupon is a social proof way to generate authentic engagement.

However, exclusivity doesn’t have to be a special reward or coupon: giving your fans access to an elite community can be enough to boost participation.  For example, many brands are rewarding their most loyal fans by giving them access to content.  This is especially prevalent in the music industry where fans are given the option to “share to reveal.”  Fans are given access to music videos or song downloads In exchange for sharing with their networks.

3. Ask your fans for feedback

Asking your fans for help is one of the most underused and most powerful ways to encourage sharing. The bottom line is that your fans want to feel that their opinion is heard.  Offering them the opportunity to give feedback on your brand, such as which version of a product is better, or to vote on special offers, helps boost engagement and ensures that they’ll want to share.

4. Identify and reward your “superfans”

As we’ve discussed before, superfans are extremely valuable to your Facebook engagement. Giving this group of social media experts recognition for the work they’re doing for your brand not only will increase their level of sharing, but it will encourage your passive users to want to join the “superfan” club. These fans generate successful campaigns by recruiting their extended networks, creating their own tweets, Facebook posts and pins.

Once you’ve identified these superfans, you need to make them an integral part of your marketing campaigns. Reward them with preferential treatment, such as early access to new items, or shouts out on Facebook or Twitter.

5. Promote. Analyse. Repeat

You’ve created that infographic and sent it out across your social channels.  Now what? Evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign and how much engagement it generated. Who are you most loyal fans? Do they want brand stories or special rewards? Maybe a promotional video isn’t the best option to build social engagement. Review the effectiveness of your campaign and make sure you follow steps 1 through 4.

Creating authentic brand experiences on mobile

mobilePres_sideBySideMobile has become much, much more than another device to share content; it is an essential opportunity for brands to develop authentic customer experiences.   46% of users log in to social media through a mobile device and consumer engagement with mobile apps increased 85% from 2011 to 2012.  Many brands are struggling to find how they can leverage this device to create experiences that are valuable to consumer.

What does the mobile phone provide for social media?

  •  Immediacy: Users expect immediate satisfaction when they interact with a brand’s mobile app.
  •  Simplicity: mobile is ideal for creating seamless and organic brand experiences. 
  •  Context-focused: there are no other distractions that take the user away from the brand experience.  When the use clicks on an app or video, they are completely engaged with that one medium.

Too often, brands focus on how they can get the most out of their customers, not why their customers would want to use the app.  When developing a mobile brand experience, you need to consider these three questions:

  •  What does the user want?
  • What does the user need?
  • What unique experience can the brand provide to make the user continue to come back to the app?

As the future for brand interactions, the mobile environment will also lead to greater engagement and result in more conversations.  Rather than being bombarded by ads from the brand, consumers feel that they are engaging one on one.

As brand interactions shift to mobile, so does the campaign strategy.  Frequent exposure to a brand is not the same as a quality brand experience.  Instead of multiple touch points from various ad media (print, banner ads, digital campaigns or social campaigns), consumers need a platform to build a long-term relationship with the brand.

The good news is that brands already has a ready and willing influencers to spread their brand message; customers are more than willing to engage with your brand.  These fans often define who they are by the brands they love – whether it’s, “liking” a brand on Facebook, pinning their favorite designs or touting it on Tumblr.

Maybe the discussion should shift.  The question is not how consumers can engage with the brand but instead how brands can become part of their fans’ personal brand.  Brands now have the opportunity to build a more organized structure for these organic conversations with engagement platforms and services.

Core fans vs. pool of brand ambassadors

socialmapOne of the questions we get asked frequently by CMOs is who they should target on social media:  should they focus on engaging a larger base of fans or cater to a small core group of passionate and influential superfans?  We would say that brands should instead consider how they can turn this fan base into superfans.  Given the overwhelming about of buzz on social media, how can brands cut through the noise and connect with these influential fans?

CMOs face several challenges with creating unique and customized content for this varied fan base.  One issue that CMOs face with their Facebook page is that all visitors see the same content – whether they’re superfans or unique visitors.  This broad stroke approach to social media content can limit how brands can have more intimate dialogues with their fans.  How can you create content that a large pool of users will find interesting? At the same time, CMOs are battling overall engagement on Facebook: less than 1% of Facebook fans engage with the content.  Since this Facebook metric is so low, does it makes sense for brands to focus their efforts on a small group of people?

As we’ve discussed before, these superfans can really accelerate your brand: they refer products or services across several social networks and their followers listen to what they say.  They are extremely valuable brand ambassadors.  Brands can scale their social media campaigns by reaching out of loyal fans as well as infrequent visitors.  For example, in the entertainment industry, it doesn’t make sense to engage a small group of passionate fans.  While this smaller group has a lot of influence, the goal is to fill up theaters, not get a select group to attend.

Facebook analytics provides insight into how your fans are interacting with your Facebook page: which posts get the most amplification or patterns in social buzz over a period of time.  Once you have the insight into how people are sharing your content, the key is then how do you act on this information.  The Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a platform for two-way dialogue between companies and their customers, which provides real-time customer collaboration on product development so that they can refine and develop products alongside their customers’ changing needs.

CAB provides a space for social amplification, community engagement and collaborative technologies.  With its leading software-as-a-service platform, CAB provides brands with the ability to facilitate customer collaboration, build advocacy and grow the community of superfans.

How Facebook helps brands co-create with “prosumers”

Companies are striving to find tools to co-create with their fans, which leads to better products, a better user experience and a more engaged fan base. Social networks have the potential to be effective channels for companies to interact with their customers and get real-time feedback on their products.  Currently, Facebook pages provide a way for casual interaction between a brand and their fans – a company posts a photo, which fans can comment on or share – but lacks methods to gain insights into providing a better user experience or what a company could be doing to best serve their most loyal customers.

Most brand and businesses know the value of their customers in the product ideation process.  While focus groups have been standard practices for marketers to test out new products, there haven’t been efficient methods to co-create with their social media community.  Co-creation through social media builds meaningful relationships with customers, increasing customer satisfaction, generating brand advocacy and increases social media ROI.

Brands recognize that their Facebook fans are valuable customers, for both their purchase value and referral value.  A recent Forrester Research study found that Facebook fans are 79% more likely to purchase than non-fans. Social amplification is significant as well: 74% of fans are likely to recommend the brand to their network compared to 38% of non fans.  Another study by Bain Consulting shows that an Apple fan is worth about 90% more to Apple than a non fan.

Who are these valuable customers?  They are social prosumers.  Prosumerism blur the line between consumption and production, changing the way that consumers interact with brands and how they make purchasing decisions.  Prosumers are early adopters and are often connecting to brands through multiple devices.

This emerging category of consumers are extremely influential and valuable.  They are members of the social web, producing and distributing content at a rate that brands are struggling to keep up with.  Businesses are no longer in complete control of their brand image, products and overall message.  Social media technologies give brands a valuable listening tool to understand the wants and needs of their customer base.  Now, these technologies have evolved so that brands can not only listen to their customer, but co-create with them as well.

Involving customers in the production process provides a sense of ownership, contributing to overall brand influence on social media and building brand communities.  Co-creating using the tools of social media can speed up the production process and engage social prosumers at the same time.

40% of fans “like” photos on brands’ Facebook pages

A recent poll that we conducted of avid Facebook users shows that certain content on Facebook is more engaging than others.  We wanted to know what type of content is the most interesting to fans.
The results show that the majority of people find visual content the most engaging.  40% of users prefer photos to other types of Facebook content.  The study also found that fans require an actionable outcome in order to engage with a Facebook page.  30% of users need a call to action in order to “like” a page.

Help Degreed “jailbreak” the education system

We are thrilled to be working with Degreed to set up their Advisory Board. 

Fans of Degreed (or fans of educational reform in general) can give feedback on their platform updates, help with social media outreach or offer their blogging or PR expertise.


Degreed is rethinking how we view traditional education by removing the distinction between formal learning (such as a college BA) and informal learning (such as Codecademy or  Users weave together their credentials from college courses, extended education and informal learning to build a Degreed transcript.  With the abundance of educational alternatives, why shouldn’t we be able to build our own degrees?

If you’re passionate about education tech or think that the traditional educational system needs to be revamped, then you should join their Advisory Board to get involved.