One of the attractions of social media as a marketing function is the fact that you can reach out to customers, prospects and fans. Fans is a strange term when you think about it in relation to a brand, however there are products and services that are so well-loved by their customers that those customers class themselves as fans. This may well be something for a business to strive towards achieving – but what do you do when fans get a little bit too fanatical?

Controlling the Superfan

I’m speaking from personal experience on this one. If you are managing a social media presence for your business (or on behalf of another business) you of course want to attract people that regularly converse and get involved with your activity. But there is a definite line that can be crossed. What are the issues that an over-eager fan can bring to the table?

1 – They take up a serious amount of your time

When you have a busy social media platform, it can be very time consuming to keep it populated with worthy content and communicate with the users. In the case of Superfans, they can often end up taking up a disproportionate amount of time, with high levels of comments and questions. It’s a tricky situation as you don’t want to push their love away, while at the same time you don’t want to alienate the other people that are giving you their valuable time.

The solution? If Mr Superfan is asking questions that truly require a response, then you should aim to answer them all. If they are merely commenting at a high volume, don’t feel like you have to acknowledge each one – this can save you a good chunk of time.

2 – They think they are an official spokesperson for your brand

In a recent case, a Superfan was attacking users of another Facebook Page that covers the same industry as my client’s. The people on that Page had some negative things to say about the product, and Superfan was responding with statements such as ‘I know the people at ‘brand x’ really well and they wouldn’t be happy with these comments’. This inferred relationship is a dangerous thing – the Superfan is overblowing their connection to the brand. In this case, it got to a point where the Superfan was being abusive to the people being negative. This is not acceptable, especially when they have previously intimated a closer relationship than truly exists.

The solution? You need to approach the Superfan and ask them to stop this activity. It goes without saying that you want people to be fighting your corner, however, not with a fictitious relationship as their reason for speaking on behalf of you and certainly not in an abusive manner. Tread carefully, thank them for the fact they clearly love your brand and for ‘sticking up’ for you and then ask them not to act in a manner that gives of perceived officialdom or could be seen as abusive. A level-headed person will take this on-board and change their behaviour. If they continue to behave like this after your approach, then there really is little you can do. If abuse etc is taking place within your own space (Facebook Page etc) you could consider banning them. However, always remember…

Hell hath no fury like a Superfan scorned

People who are fanatical about something can flip their feelings pretty quickly. There is a thin line between love and hate. Always try and see it from the fan’s point of view. Many people get a warm feeling inside when one of their favourite brands talks to or recognises them via social media. Its basic human nature, we like to be loved. I’ve seen Superfans self destruct and go on a rampage across social media, slighting you, your brand and your Momma (maybe not) until their fingers bleed. Try to avoid that, however don’t feel like you have to pander too much, you need to protect your brand. Be reasonable and people tend to be reasonable back and if they aren’t, perhaps you don’t want that type of fan anyway?

You do want brand advocates and often Superfans can be the best advocates around, just be wary of the issues that can arise with over-eager fans. For more info on building advocates, read this post on The Social Penguin Blog.

If you would like to discuss your social media management needs, please feel free to contact me.

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Mike McGrail

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