How to Grow an Army of Brand Ambassadors AKA Superfans

Big Ideas BlogEarlier this year, I hosted a small business webinar with Baochi Nguyen, the CEO of Social Canny, a digital marketing and social strategy consultancy, and the former Director of Social Strategy for RingCentral, the #1 could business phone system. Baochi is a 15-year veteran in the internet industry and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Stanford University. I also had the privilege of seeing her give the same presentation live at an educational event for small businesses.

Her presentation was on how small businesses can build a community of “Superfans” on social media. Without further ado, let’s get into Baochi’s teachings and learn what Superfans are, how you find them, how you treat them and Baochi’s Superfan dos and don’ts.

Who are the Superfans?

So, where do Superfans come from? Baochi shared that Superfans are drawn to businesses that have a great product, great service and great community.

Superfans are customers/enthusiasts who engage with your brand, praise your brand and recommend your brand. And the best a part is, they do so without getting paid! Baochi also refers to these followers as brand ambassadors. She explains that Superfans are your brand’s word of mouth (WOM) and WOM is the largest driver of new customers for the majority of small businesses.

Why are Superfans important?

There are 140,000,000 active user on Twitter and 950,000,000 active user on Facebook, says Baochi. And, 36 percent of social networkers post about brands, she says.

And here’s the kicker. Baochi shared that according to Nielson in 2012, 92 percent of consumers worldwide said they trust recommendations from friends and family more than ANY OTHER form of advertising, up from 74 percent in 2007.

The stats that Baochi shared are crucial to the success of your small business on social media. If you are using social media just to promote your products, step back and take some time to develop a way to begin meaningful conversations with your prospects and customers that don’t involve just selling to them.

How to identify your Superfans

Baochi explains that there are five ways to identify your Superfans:

  1. Engagement: These are the people who regularly respond to your posts.
  2. Feedback: These are people who provide you with suggestions for improvement.
  3. Kudos: These are people who post about positive experiences they have had with your business.
  4. Promotion: These are people who recommend your business’s product and/or service.
  5. Support: These are people who stand by your business, even during the tough times.

How to keep track of your Superfans

In order to keep track of your customers who engage with you, provide you feedback, give you kudos, promote your products and support your business on social media, here are a few tips from Baochi:

  1. You can create lists/streams on Twitter of your Superfans. Twitter’s Help Center explains how to build lists here.
  2. Maintain a record of engaged people in other active social media channels
  3. Flag Superfans in a Content Management System (CMS). You can read this article from Entrepreneur to learn more about CMS systems and how to choose the right one.
  4. Subscribe to blogs that are written by your Superfans.

How to engage with your Superfans

Once you identify who your Superfans are and you set up a system to keep track of them, the next step is to engage with them. Here’s how Baochi recommends you stay connected with your Superfans:

  • Read their blogs and leave comments
  • Converse with them on relevant topics
  • Get to know their interests outside of your business, converse with them on these topics
  • Always thank them for their kudos and ask for their feedback
  • Be genuine and likeable. Check out this Forbes article on how to get more Twitter followers.

How to Give Your Superfans VIP treatment

You have to give back to your Superfans who do so much to help keep your business thriving. Baochi shared a few ways to do this:

  • Give your Superfans shout-outs and encouragement
  • Support your Superfans by sharing their posts on your social media channels
  • Feature Superfans on your social channels and events
  • Ask your Superfans for input on fun stuff, like contest. You can use applications like GroSocial for this.
  • Surprise Superfans with gifts
  • Provide Superfans with exclusive information, sneak peeks

The Superfan Dos

Here are the things Baochi says you should do with your Superfans:

  • Welcome customers who ask to join the Superfan program
  • Be extra-responsive when a Superfan needs help with your product/service
  • Provide a public definition of your Superfan program
  • Engage with potential Superfans to help them grow into full-fledged Superfans
  • Connect Superfans to each other
  • Loop in legal advice if you need it pertaining to your Superfan program
  • Take a no-strings-attached approach to your Superfan program – nobody has to be your Superfan if they don’t want to

The Superfan Don’ts

Here are the things Baochi says to avoid when dealing with your Superfans:

  • Don’t choose them based on the number of followers they have
  • Don’t be inauthentic in your social media communications
  • Don’t make them feel obligated to support your business
  • Don’t engage with them too frequently
  • Don’t over-do the public Superfan hype

Brand advocacy and social media marketing are a powerful combination for your small business. Research shows that consumers use social media to express their loyalty to their favorite brands and products. Get your Superfans program in place so that you can get your army of loyal customers sending you new ones.

I’d love to get some of your ideas on how you can engage with Superfans on different social networks. In the comments below, share with me how you would build a Superfan community on Facebook.

Want a dozen more unique ideas you can use right now to boost your referral business by leveraging the built in influence of your customers? Download my e-book The ABCs of Customer Referrals: Always Be Connecting to learn more.

Photo Credit: mkhmarketing via Compfight cc

About the Author

Madison Jacobs is the Content Manager at Infusionsoft and helps small businesses succeed by managing Infusionsoft’s creation and promotional strategy for online educational content. Madison has written for several news publications including the Arizona Republic and 944 Magazine. She has also been featured on for her article: How Social Media Can Help Small Businesses Get Referrals. She specializes in writing small business educational content, as well as in-depth profiles and investigative pieces. Madison has written several eBooks for Infusionsoft on an array of small business sales and marketing topics including: social media, customer referral programs, e-commerce management, sales conversion, customer acquisition, online sales, permission-based email best practices and email marketing. She hosts all of Infusionsoft’s prospect-facing educational webinars and online media content promotion on sites like SlideShare. She graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a minor in African American studies.

  • Alexandre Costa

    Solid article.

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    So no more fees, reward program is offered too and you can track who your local/loyal customers are.