Finding, cultivating and showcasing the people who love your brand is essential in today’s fractured, content overloaded world. Brands constantly compete for the attention of their target audiences; that is why building relationships with dedicated fans who can help elevate and share your brand’s message is important for standing out.
The team from Hiebing has extensive experience turning social media followers into dedicated brand loyalists for their clients. Hiebing’s PR, Social Media and Content Senior Account Supervisor Liesel Olson, Senior Account Executive Sam Bowers, and Senior Account Executive Lauren Schroeder provided their tips for turning casual audiences to dedicated superfans during this past month’s Social Media Breakfast. Watch the event replay, view the presentation deck, and check out the photo recap of the event on the SMBMad Facebook page. Hiebing also provided worksheets during the presentation. They are linked here.
The Superpower of Superfans
Superfans come with their own set of superpowers that continue to champion your brand any and every time they hear about it.
“Superfans create a domino effect. They will buy or engage with anything produced by the brand and recommend your brand to everyone they know. Word about your brand will spread very quickly when you have four or five people behind it.”
Climbing the Pyramid
To build a community of superfans, the Hiebing team referred to the book Superfans: The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, and Build a Successful Business by Pat Flynn. In the book, Pat refers to The Superfan Pyramid, a hierarchy of target audience members interacting with your brand.
A casual audience is someone who comes across your brand in the wild. They are seeing your social posts, but they haven’t found their brand connection yet.
When it comes to your brand, you should be sharing commonalities you have with your target audience through quality content that can turn them from casual to active audience members.
An active audience is important for any brand in leveling up what they offer their target audience.
“It is important to know how the audience describes their tensions and highlight your brand as the solution to spark a connection,” Sam said.
Once you know how your target audience would describe their problem, you can talk to them directly about it and provide viable solutions that resonate.
From your active audience, you are able to develop a connected community, which is where your brand starts to have a deep, emotional connection with the audience.
“You are starting to tap into how people feel,” Sam said. “They feel emotionally connected to the brand and are well on their way to becoming superfans.”
If you are able to tap into an emotion, you can use that emotion to create a moment of activation, such as someone subscribing to an email list.
Superfans are at the top of the pyramid. People become superfans because of the way a brand or product makes them feel.
Sam shared, “This is where, ideally, we want everyone to be, but there are important things in each step that help you build audience members into superfans.”
“Have you ever gone up to someone and went in for a high-five and they just don’t see it or ignore you? That’s not a great feeling,” Sam commented, “Don’t leave your audience hanging.”
When it comes to social media, high-fives come in the form of comments and engagements. Committing to an engagement cycle keeps people moving up the pyramid and building connections.
“Engagement cycles are based on target insights,” Liesel said. “Customer engagement is fueled meaningfully and loyalty advances authentically.”
There are five states of the engagement cycle:
- Listening – Tap into review sites, social comments and customer feedback forms to determine common threads among your fans.
- Create – Develop content that harnesses the insights you have collected and make it resonate for your target audience.
- Engage – Watch the activity on that content and engage back with your fans.
- Reward – Surprise your most dedicated and meaningful engagements with something extra like a coupon, sharing an image that they shared or swag items.
- Repost – Harness user-generated content, comments and topic trends for more content.
Culver’s has excelled in the use of the engagement cycle through their “From Wisconsin with Love” tour. With insights on what themes resonated most with guests, Culver’s created social content, ads and activities to accompany a nationwide tour highlighting their brand and engaging their fans. The tour created a fear of missing out for those who couldn’t attend but wanted to and allowed the brand to reward loyal guests in real life with free food, swag and a depth of engagement that cannot be replicated online.
“It’s ‘phygital’ connections, a combination of physical and digital engagements, that extend beyond the engagement cycle, build connection and drive loyalty,” Liesel said.
Advocacy programs help brands tap into those engaged consumers who are spreading the word about a brands’ story and help strengthen it.
According to Lauren, there are five steps to building an advocacy program:
- Defining the program – Determining the number of advocates and a desired cadence that is reflective of your team’s capacity.
- Identify your superfans – Superfans make great brand advocates because they already love and are tied to the brand. You should consider their location diversity, voice and quality of content when selecting your superfans.
- Create a connection – Reward brand loyalists by simply engaging with their content or providing them with swag. Those sporting your brand become walking billboards who keep encouraging engagement and sharing on social channels.
- Generate quality content – Host regular meetings to update advocates and generate ideas. It is also important to monitor social channels to protect your brand and confirm expectations are met; branded hashtags are great assistance for this.
- Return every high-five – Like, comment and provide exclusive access, swag, or networking opportunities.
“Quality inputs lead to quality outputs with brand advocacy programs,” Lauren remarked.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Liesel Olson – Senior Account Supervisor, PR, Social Media and Content – Hiebing
Team cheerleader and caring cultivator of talent, Liesel seizes every opportunity to grow leaders on her team and reach clients’ business goals. Liesel is a natural explorer, in constant search for ways to increase performance of people, product and content for Hiebing clients like Culver’s, Sartori Cheese and others through regular performance evaluation, crystal clear client communication and roaring insights.
With a long history in social media and content, Liesel has flexed her media muscles on international monitoring, legal reputation management and storytelling of all kinds. She is also an expert organizer, easily breaking goals down into achievable and measurable phases for herself and her clients. Where there is chaos, you’ll find Liesel working to smooth it out. When you’re not listening to Liesel hum at work, you’ll find her prepping for her home improvement project or practicing her Norwegian rosemaling skills.
Sam Bowers – Senior Account Executive, PR, Social Media and Content – Hiebing
Sam moved to Madison, WI in 2019 from the Kansas City area (Go Chiefs!) where she was born and raised. She studied Convergence Television Reporting at the University of Missouri. Following graduation, Sam began her career in television as the host and producer of a lifestyle TV show in Madison that highlighted local restaurants, events, and members of the community. She brought her eclectic skillset to Hiebing two years ago and hit the ground running! Sam now focuses on clients like Culver’s and Sartori – working on projects in the branded content, influencer, cause marketing and social spaces. You can also find her running, baking, traveling, taking photos and trying new restaurants on the regular!
Lauren Schroeder – Senior Account Executive, PR, Social Media and Content – Hiebing
Lauren is a proud Wisconsinite-born and raised. A true Madison native, Lauren attended UW-Madison, honing her craft with a marketing degree with an emphasis in digital studies. She began her career taking those talents to Yelp Madison, Ideas That Evoke and Vector & Ink, where she sharpened her skill set in social media strategy, managing influencer relationships and becoming a master digital marketer. Almost two years ago, Lauren joined the Hiebing team, bringing her digital prowess to Wisconsin-based clients like UWGB and Summit Credit Union.
In her spare time, Lauren’s love of travel comes through in her personal travel blog featuring everything from local restaurants here in Wisconsin to iconic destinations abroad. You may see her flexing her TikTok savviness at your favorite local Madison café or catching some sun on Lake Wingra while coming up with the next viral social media strategy.
Serving Dane County since 1973, the RCC (formerly the Rape Crisis Center) is a non-profit organization that provides services to survivors (and their support people) of all forms of sexual violence. They also have comprehensive programs in Outreach and Education, including youth and professional training in prevention, Chimera personal defense training, the Safer Bar program that trains management and staff of the service industry, and frequent collaboration with other Dane County and Madison agencies.
This year, RCC is celebrating 50 years of serving Dane County. Check out their upcoming fundraiser Java Jive, coming up on September 30.