The days of product and pricing being the only important elements to building a successful brand are gone.
In today’s connected world, although customers may still come for those two things, more often than not, it’s the people and the experience that they stay for. Building customer loyalty isn’t just about offering reward incentives; it’s about building a community of engaged fans and nurturing them to become super fans who advocate your brand.
Why create your own fan club?
When thinking about the power of raving fans, Apple is a great example. Even though your brand might not be nearly as big, many of the same rules apply. Apple fans certainly don’t buy iPhones because they’re cheap, product quality has always been a top-selling point for the company, but what really makes it successful is that their customer base is one of the most devout of all. You won’t get many iPhone users shifting loyalties and buying an Android phone! Imagine having a community of fans who are just as loyal to your offering too?
Reason #1. Nurture brand advocates
Fan clubs have been around forever. In the old days, they were often created by fans themselves. Today, thanks to the power of social media, brands can build their own fan clubs, often tying them to loyalty programmes in the process. With a fan club of your own, you have an opportunity to build more meaningful relationships with your target audience, potentially turning customers into loyal brand advocates.
Reason #2. Provide better support
A fan club is where people go not only to share their enthusiasm for a particular brand, product or service. It’s also a space where customers can support each other. Most people would far rather serve themselves with a community-driven knowledge base than pick up the phone to customer support. Having a fan club can deflect support tickets and reduce the burden on you and your team.
Reason #3. Brainstorm new ideas
Today’s collaborative online environment breeds innovation. Fan clubs are where customers go to share their ideas and provide valuable feedback. With an engaged community of your own, your customers get to become a driving force behind the direction of your brand.
Reason #4. Expand your reach
Social media is increasingly becoming overcrowded and competitive. It’s can seem near impossible to get heard when you have millions of others all vying for attention, and a single platform update can change everything in an instant. With your own fan community platform, you’re the one in the driver’s seat.
Reason #5. Increase brand loyalty
A strong fan club can serve as a one-stop shop for peer-to-peer support, product ideation, and customer success. Together, these things build loyalty and keep people coming back for more. Added to that is the fact that a community-driven experience empowers strong relationships where people become loyal to each other and to your brand.
5 things you need to know before creating your own fan club
Before you start a Facebook Group, install forum software or your website or start any other kind of fan community, you’ll need a plan. Without strategy, chances are your fan club won’t successfully get off the ground.
Here are a few things you need to know before getting started:
#1. Your goals
As we’ve seen, there are plenty of reasons to start a community. You’ll need to choose the ones that interest you and translate them into goals. A lot of successful fan clubs serve multiple purposes, but increasing customer loyalty is usually the primary goal. For example, your goals might include adding more streams of revenue, onboarding more customers or empowering brand advocates.
#2. Your KPIs
Your key performance indicators are the metrics you’ll want to track to determine the success of your community. For example, if you want to sell to your community, your primary KPI might be the number of conversions you get from people joining your fan club. If peer-to-peer support is one of your goals, then you’ll want to look at the number of support tickets deflected from your customer service team.
#3. Your needs
Although every brand fan club has a few things in common, things get a bit more complicated as you work your way towards finding a solution. To choose the right platform, you’ll need to translate your goals into needs which, in turn, will become a list of required features. For example, you’ll need integrated shopping carts and payments if you want to sell to your community.
#4. Your rules
Every fan club needs a set of rules and guidelines for maintaining a healthy community. But to communicate these in a way that adds value. Instead of coming across as a lawgiver, your rules should set the expectations and encourage constructive participation.
#5. Your expertise
Many brands launch fan clubs to share their expertise. This is also true of far smaller brands, including one-person operations. For example, a fan community offers a brilliant opportunity for individuals selling online courses. By sharing your expertise with your community, you can build authority and give your members something to share and talk about.
How to create your own fan club in five steps
Thanks to the availability of many white-label community platforms, there’s rarely any need to build something from scratch. If you already have a core of loyal customers, you can get your fan club up and running in weeks rather than months.
Here are five steps to help you make it so:
Step #1. Choose a platform
Once you know who you’re trying to reach, and you’ve translated your business objectives into a set of features, you’ll be ready to shortlist a handful of platforms which meet your needs. You can then narrow these down even further by comparing them side-by-side and reading reviews and testimonials from other customers.
Step #2. Find a host
There are many ways to host your fan club, but the options are largely dependent on the platform you choose. If you want to use mainstream social media, then Facebook is often the obvious choice. But, if you want to have full control over your fan community, you’ll probably be looking for a hosted forum solution or community mobile app.
Step #3. Upload your content
With your community platform up and running, you’ll have a blank slate to work with, but that’s hardly going to get your fans flocking. You’ll need to provide value; a reason for them to sign up and get involved. Before the launch day, you should upload your content, whether it’s free video training sessions, product pages, or anything else your community might be interested in.
Step #4. Promote your community
Promoting your community usually ends up being the most time-consuming step, especially when you’re just starting out. Be sure to announce the launch of your new fan club to everyone on your mailing list, advertise it on any social channels you use, and post the news on your website. You’ll need to promote it regularly at first, but eventually, your fans should end up doing the job for you.
Step #5. Get involved
While you’re busy trying to grow your community, it’s important not to lose sight of your new members. What makes a brand-owned fan club so successful is regular involvement from you and your team. It’s every bit as important to nurture your existing fans as it is to acquire new ones.