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How brands tap 'super fans' to promote products

May 31, 2013

On Sephora’s online forum “Beauty Talk,” a customer known as “katie1724” posts up to 10 comments per day, offering insights on how to use the company’s makeup and skincare products. As reports, Katie is one example of the “super fans” that brands are now capitalizing on to lend credibility to their online communities. Super fans answer other fans’ questions about products and provide companies with valuable marketing and feedback, for free.

LEGO is tapping its online communities to generate ideas for new sets of the connectable toys. On a site for younger fans, only about 1 percent of its 10,000-12,000 active monthly members are considered super fans, based on how many hours per day they spend on the site and the number of comments they post. To engage fans, brands are moving toward online communities and away from Facebook, where questions quickly disappear down the timeline and deep conversation is stifled, says Phil Petescia, a vice president at Sony.

Super fans bring credibility that brand employees can’t, says Rob Tarkoff, CEO of Lithium Technologies, a San Francisco-based company that helps brands build online communities. A 2012 Forrester study reportedly found that 46 percent of people trust consumer-written reviews, while only 15 percent trust social media posts directly from brands. — Greg Beaubien


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