For Real Marketing Success, Focus On Your Superfans

Marketing tools and techniques shift at dramatic speeds. Social media channels and best practices seem to change daily, and new analytics reveal updated facts and stats constantly. Falling behind in marketing knowledge is not an option, so marketers are pressured to be on their toes moment to moment. 

However, throughout all the technological changes that drop onto the marketer’s plate every day, one low-tech marketing tool often falls between the cracks: People. You know, us homo sapiens.  

Don’t Neglect Your Most Valuable Marketing Tool

Are you doing anything to reach your biggest fans? If not, you’re ignoring a segment that could potentially skyrocket your brand into new heights of success. 

Superfans are highly valuable to your brand because they’re loyal and enthusiastic. They are consumers who follow all your social pages and engage with you. They choose your products over your competitors’ products, share your updates and promotions with their friends, and serve as ambassadors for your brand, products and services. When you embrace your superfans effectively, they will reward you with trust and friendship through thick and thin.

“It’s crucial that companies embrace their most loyal customers especially due to the changing landscape in which the customer is increasingly informed about the market and therefore has plenty of vendors to choose from. With this in mind, companies must offer a seamless experience that meets these superfans where ever they might be, whether social, email or another medium. In order to cultivate and retain loyal customers, companies have to be alert across all channels,” said Daniel Brzezinski, CMO of GetResponse.

Superfans are also important because they can be your biggest allies throughout a PR crisis. It’s no secret that one disgruntled employee can bring his or her employer to its knees through malicious behavior or by slandering a company with untruths. In times like these, nay-sayers take to social media in droves to malign the company even further. That’s where your superfans can come to the rescue by the thousands, defending your brand with all their power.  

The key to focusing on your superfans is to develop loyalty incentives and reward programs for your best customers. You’ll need to identify these customers and engage with them in ways that are meaningful and relevant. As you nurture the activity and social media influence your superfans have for your products, your brand will enjoy a competitive edge and high levels of customer retention.

Social channels are very useful in identifying, nurturing and engaging with superfans. Smart brands intertwine their social media with the loyalty programs they offer their best customers.

Here are a few methods for identifying and engaging with superfans. 

Finding Your Superfans

The first step toward harnessing the benefits of superfans is to figure out just who they are for your brand. There are a few traditional and effective ways of gaining this insight. Is your company a retail business? Look at data such as the spending habits and purchase patterns of your customers. If your company is a packaged goods business, however, you probably don’t have the consumer data that retail businesses have. So you’re going to need to glean information from promotional codes redeemed by consumers.

To gain a deeper understanding of who your superfans are, analyze social-media trends and engagement. Pay attention to consumers’ online connections, note how active different consumers are on their social channels, and learn the frequency in which they comment to your brand and review your products and services. By analyzing social media and continuing your conventional CRM best practices, you’ll gain a picture of who your superfans are.

Rewarding Participants Of Loyalty Programs For Their Positive Engagement

Rewards programs for frequent purchases are valuable, but your customers also appreciate being recognized for their engagement and participation with your brand. So consider offering points to your loyalty program participants who frequently engage with you on social media. 

Encouraging Superfans Through Social Media

Consumers trust their peers above any form of marketing or advertising, and superfans are huge sources of word-of-mouth promotion. The more you can encourage brand superfans, the more likely you are to gain ambassadors for your products and services.

Consider offering some free products to your most vocal fans, and encourage them to tweet about their experience. Also, allowing your superfans to see previews of new products before they even hit the shelves will encourage superfans to blog and generate buzz for those products. 

Making Sure Your Social Efforts are Part of Other Multi-Channel Efforts

Connecting with your customers is one thing, but connecting with them through numerous touch points takes strategy and effort. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to deeply engage and interact with your superfans via one platform alone. For real marketing success, it’s important to get a good understanding of your customers’ activity across many different channels – including online social channels, real world events, and mobile marketing.

As the focus on trust, loyalty and meaningful customer engagement continues to grow, more and more marketers will increasingly recognize the invaluable role superfans play. No marketing effort thus far has been able to match the positive potential superfans bring to the table.

Do everything you can to identify, reward, encourage and engage with your superfans. Once you establish a relationship with them, continue to nurture and strengthen those relationships. Let them know you value them, and reward them accordingly.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.