Today there are fans, and then there are superfans.

The superfans are usually pretty easy to spot. They are hyper-engaged and highly visible individuals who follow their favorite sports team, performer, or entertainment genre with an extraordinary – almost unbridled – passion.

Twitter is a good place to find them. And with followers that can number into the hundreds of thousands, these social ambassadors are redefining the very meaning of “brand loyalty.”

A Matter of Influence

Recently, I read a fascinating article by Alex Hodgson about why superfans are Hollywood’s unstoppable future. Hodgson writes that due to social media in particular, “Now fans aren’t just an audience; we’re a community . . . we value . . . the general sense that this entertainment is produced with us, not just for us.”

Hodgson’s article is largely describing how some superfans are becoming part of the entertainment industry itself. But his observations also allude to another reality.

From a business perspective, the real difference between the ordinary fan and the superfan seems to have less to do with enthusiasm and everything to do with influence.

Indeed, many companies in the entertainment business already recognize this distinction. As a result, they are actively helping their influential superfans generate the buzz.

Parkwood Entertainment – On the Corner of Art and Science

Parkwood Entertainment is one of those companies.

The New York City based firm is an entertainment management company that supports music artists with a full range of management, production, and marketing activities. This includes a number of up-and-coming performers signed to the newly formed Parkwood Music record label.

Recently, Parkwood Entertainment has been using a software solution from Phizzle Inc. to help it better understand superfan power. It’s really a confluence of art and science.

This technology incorporates a social listening component that uses sophisticated algorithms to search social media sources like Twitter for certain key words, phrases, and patterns. Relevant data is then gathered together and transferred to an in-memory computing platform for real-time analysis.

Ultimately, the information is presented to the people at Parkwood Entertainment via custom dashboards that let them uniquely identify superfan records and understand these fans by any number of criteria.

“I can segment fans, assess sentiment and interests, and see what’s trending,” notes Rachel Hislop, an online content manager at Parkwood Entertainment. “And it’s easy to see who’s influencing conversations about our artists, events, and activations.”

Capitalizing on Insight

But Parkwood Entertainment is not just using this information to identify their loyal following and understand what’s hot, and what’s not. By capitalizing on these insights, the company is being more strategic about releasing content related to artist events and campaigns.

“During pivotal release periods and events, we need to better understand the makeup and interests of our fans in order to give them the right content and messages at the right time to maximize impact,” explains Hislop.

Opportunities Beyond Entertainment

Superfans are a resource that many more companies should be taking advantage of.

After all, the phenomenon is by no means restricted to the worlds of sports and entertainment. Hey, there are folks out there voluntarily tattooing their bodies with the logos of their favorite motorcycle maker or fast-food franchise!

Why not find out who is tweeting about your company and give them something to talk about?

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To read more about how Parkwood Entertainment is driving engagement in this SAP Business Transformation Study.

Please follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.

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