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The June edition of the monthly Online Community Meetup in San Francisco featured Nathan McGee, community manager
at Zynga. McGee’s talk, Building
Super Fans! Taking Your Community to the Next Level examined the
importance of super fans for organizations and how to cultivate them.
began his discussion by talking about why organizations need super fans. Simply
put, "super fans" demonstrate a particular brand of loyalty that, once recognized, stands
to benefit your organization tremendously. Super fans are those individuals who
are engaged with your organization above and beyond your average supporter.
super fans’ personal investment in your organization means they can
be counted on to provide honest feedback. And whether that feedback is what you
hope to hear or not, it is constructive because it comes from someone who cares
about the organization, its future, and its community.
Super fans are great
ambassadors for building awareness of what you and your organization do because
outsiders are likely to consider them reliable third-party advocates. Super
fans are also valuable because they are more inclined to give of their time and
money to benefit your organization and its mission.
Super fans, however, are not born naturally and must be
cultivated. McGee lays out five steps to creating super fans:
The first two
steps, “create interest” and “engage,” are ones that most organizations understand
and undertake. However, it is with the remaining steps that organizations fail and
lose out on the chance to nurture super fans.
McGee explained that
“introduction” means finding ways to connect members of your community to
one another based on common interests. “Give responsibility” means encouraging fans to organize meetups, chats, fan clubs, or other activities. When you
“give them tools,” provide your fans with clear instructions if you’re asking
them to undertake a task. “Tools” also refers to exclusive access and VIP
treatment generally reserved for fans of their status. The means by which to do
this need not be expensive and can be as simple as a note of appreciation,
birthday message, or some sort of swag.
Before you can nurture super fans, you have to create a
community around your organization; one way to think of this is process is to
think of building a cultural group. Tactics for doing this include: developing
a nickname for your group or individual members, using identifiable symbols,
employing lingo, or setting a common goal for members.
need to feel that they belong to something too and are welcome members of the
group. In addition, keep in mind
that everyone in your community can contribute something and giving them the
opportunity to share is powerful.
Finally, remember to be transparent with your
community about what you expect from them and what they should expect from you,
including owning up to mistakes you make. Building a community that maintains
and creates super fans is an ongoing process and one that, if done properly, will
benefit your organization for a long time to come.
Photo: Mai Le
Susan ChavezOnline Community & Social Media Team, TechSoup Global@Susan_Chavez
After I read this recap, I wanted to revisit the slides and went searching around SlideShare. They might be helpful to others who heard about the event, and saw the video, but wanted the presentation itself.
Boxes & Arrows
In this era when so many are claiming that people only want micro-volunteering, just-whenever-you-might-have-time volunteering activities, it's nice to read an article that acknowledges there are many people who want to be online volunteers with longer term commitments and higher responsibilities, and organizations that want such volunteers. Yes, that's right - "super fans" are volunteers!
One of the things I've found with many nonprofits is that they actually fear "super fans" - they fear the intensity of their passion, their motivation, their loyalty and their energy. They fear the super fans unasked-for-suggestions and ideas, their independent tweeting and blogging... many nonprofits will shut down a super fan that they feel is too "super" - not for any policy violation or inappropriate behavior, but because of the perceived pressure such a fan can put on employees and other volunteers.
For the record: I fear not the super fan.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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