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Facebook's ‘Top Fans’: a valuable tool for enhancing brand advocacy

Social media marketing has entered an era where customers are increasingly expecting authentic, personalised experiences from the brands they love and trust. This is why it is more important than ever for consumer-focused organisations to concentrate on effective new methods of generating and retaining customer loyalty.

One such method is the ‘Top Fans’ feature which Facebook has recently developed. If a Facebook page has more than 10,000 likes, users can become eligible for a Top Fan Badge by being one of the most active users of the page. Those who qualify will have a badge next to their name when interacting with the page’s content.

It was back in March 2018 that Facebook tested the feature, and it proved to be a success among both creators and fans, so last month they announced they were going to roll it out more broadly.

The feature has now evolved in a way that enables the page’s admin to create posts destined exclusively for their ‘top fans.’

For community managers, this feature is extremely beneficial for three key reasons: not only does it mean loyal advocates are now much more easily identifiable, it also provides an exciting alternative means of sharing exclusive content. This then has the potential to significantly increase activity and interaction, which in turn could considerably expand organic reach.

Why is it valuable?

Advocacy is born from a customer’s enthusiasm for the brand as a whole. Promotional activities, reputation and previous experience all play a part in how the brand is perceived. Getting the combination right has the power to convert passing visitors into loyal advocates. At its most simple level, offering validation in the form of a badge is valuable because it automatically recognises and reinforces fans' continued interaction.

Maximising advocacy

However, while it is valuable for brands to be able to identify their fans, it’s not enough to rely on the reward-gratification effect for heightened engagement. Enabling brands to target their most passionate fans essentially provides a golden opportunity to maximise organic engagement in an authentic and personalised way. Done effectively, exclusive content which thanks Top Fans for their loyalty can only encourage further interaction and foster positive association with the brand.

This can be put into motion in a number of ways, whether through direct messages which say thank you with a discount to a product, or even rewarding top fans with free downloads, tickets and merchandise. The important thing is that it is executed with careful thought and intention, in a way that communicates the brand's tone of voice and its core pillars. Along with myriad technological tools that identify and understand the customer's individual needs, it’s important not to lose sight of the essential value of relationships at the brand’s core. There must be an empathetic consciousness behind the utilisation of these resources.

Enhancing brand community

Ultimately, the aim should be to bolster an emotional bond with the brand and anything to reinforce this will only help in building brand advocacy and boost organic engagement. While this feature assists in identifying loyal fans and encourages their engagement, it also acts as an incentive to those who aren’t yet Top Fans, articulating the value of becoming part of an exclusive advocate community.

Since relationships are valued more highly than transactions, building genuine connections must come first. Sprout Social found that 86% of consumers seek authenticity when deciding which brands to support. Authenticity on social can be achieved through proactive listening and attentive monitoring of the social content, which resonates with their target audience, and this can be done even more precisely with the introduction of this feature. At the core of advocacy is a sense of belonging. In its various ways, this feature is important because it allows brands to show that their customers are heard, valued and feel part of an exclusive community of advocates with a shared passion.

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