Embrace Your Fans

Last Saturday I did something I hadn’t done since high school. I waited in line for a movie. Back then it was the first of the new Star Wars movies. And I was happy to sit in line for hours with my friends. Last weekend the wait was shorter and very much unintentional.

We arrived 30 minutes early for the newest Bond movie, thinking we had better go a little early to ensure we snagged a prime seat. Boy were we wrong. We arrived to find a series of massive lines stretching outside the theatre. Those at the front had clearly been there for hours. We took our place at the back, eventually forming the last quarter of those in the line.

Rarely do I ever go to a movie on opening weekend. In fact, I consciously avoid it.

But the experience got me thinking about what motivated those at the front of the line. They gave up hours of their time to see Bond on the opening weekend and to secure the best seats. It’s clear they’re true fans. Passionate fans. But were they just passionate about Bond? Or did they do this for numerous new releases in the run of a year?

Whether it’s the Bond series, or the movie theature experience (or both) they’re passionate about, I’m not sure. But it’s certainly an enviable position for a brand to be in. Granted the work is much easier for an entertainment brand. But does your brand have fans like this? If so, how do you embrace them?

Right now I’m reading Brains on Fire, a book from the word of mouth agency of the same name. While they recognize brand conversations are taking place in social media, their strategy remains firmly routed in people and passion. Their process involves actually talking to people, not focus groups or surveys, but just talking to customers and potential customers.  Using this process they have managed to find customers passionate about the seemingly most mundane products – like Fiskars, those orange handled scissors in your Mom’s kitchen drawer.

So you may not be responsible for a brand like Bond. But that doesn’t exclude you from benefiting from word of mouth, whether it be real world or in social media. Just remember that embracing your fans doesn’t mean controlling them. Your best results will come when you give them even more of what they love, reward their loyalty and enable their community. They’ll do the rest on their own.

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