The power of superfans

Written by Tom Gayner

Superfans have always existed. But as we've entered a global world, the focus for marketing teams has changed from monetising a few to monetising many.

The superfan lives across genres and market sectors. Whether they're dancing at the front of a live music show, cheering on their team at a sporting event or spreading the word about their favourite brand, superfans are an incredible resource.

The evolution of these dedicated followers has seen an explosion of opportunity for any fan to become a superfan. Superfans have long immersed themselves in the world of their favourite artists: gathering round the TV, buying (or making their own) merch and making lengthy pilgrimages to see their faves play. But with the dawn of the internet, there were no longer any limits on location or access as like-minded fans across the world found each other in fan forums. Then came social media, which opened up a mass global audience we could speak to - but also grouped passionate superfans into a vast crowd with passive fans.

Today, superfans are gathering in messaging apps like Discord. That’s great news for creators and brands who know the importance and opportunity of engaging those core superfans. Levellr works with clients from Fall Out Boy to Starbucks to unite superfans who are the biggest contributors to a healthy and happy community, driving engagement, leading the conversation with fellow fans and making the community a special place to be.

According to research company Luminate, superfans number around 15% of the US population but spend 80 percent more on music than the average person. For brands, these superfans represent a huge potential opportunity.

In a large sports crowd, a black woman with glasses watches intently.
Where social media groups fans into a faceless crowd, communities are where superfans stand out (Photo by Emma Dau on Unsplash)

Superfans supercharged

At Levellr, we’ve seen the power of superfans first hand. We build communities where fans and superfans come together on messaging apps to celebrate and interact with their favourite artists, sports teams and brands in a dedicated safe space. Unlike traditional social media platforms, Levellr empowers brands, artists and their teams with the expertise and tools to effectively monetise their fandom by finding their most passionate fans, learning what they want, and rewarding them.

Brands like Starbucks and artists like Fred again.. and Pink Pantheress are leaning into this. They've worked with Levellr and seen the results of mobilising their fandom behind their latest campaigns. For example, when we launched Fall Out Boy’s Discord community in April 2023, an astonishing 56% of fans signing up also opted in to marketing consent, jaw-dropping numbers considering the industry average is just 2%.

Data from research companies including Luminate and Goldman Sachs highlight not just the current power of the superfan, but the opportunity for further growth. 2023’s Goldman Sachs Music In The Air report estimates the superfan market could be worth more than $4 billion in the next decade.

Currently, 20% of paid streaming subscribers are superfans - many of them paying for streaming just to support their favourites. We see this support in streaming numbers. Our community bot automatically shows the most listened-to tracks in the community, and celebrates users who are listening to the community artist the most.

These hardcore fans are much more likely to buy event tickets and physical media than the average person, and a whopping 95% of superfans plan to attend an event in the next year. At Levellr, we’ve seen this first-hand: Maisie Peters shared pre-sale tour tickets with her community that sold out in mere minutes.

The report highlights that the time following an event is key, when many fans are excitedly looking for the next event or release they can spend their money on. We've seen this in Levellr's Discord communities, where the buzz that's created around live events is key for fans spreading the word within the community and in the wider world.

And it isn’t just music where there’s an opportunity to reach the most engaged followers of a brand. For popular football podcast The Anfield Wrap, we’ve built a community on messaging app Telegram that’s available to the podcasts’s paying subscribers, automatically removing churned users to provide a strong incentive for retention. For Starbucks, we built a community specifically available to loyalty card customers. Again, the participation rate is much higher than the industry standard - in this case, more than double.

The latest data underlines the importance of identifying those who are willing to engage more deeply with their favourite, so they can be offered further choices and rewards at the right time. Levellr's community management tools give community owners an in-depth understanding of who's in the community and how they engage, allowing brands to identify their superfans.

Finding superfans allows a brand to more deeply personalise and monetise the fan experience. Premium pricing segmentation, for example, can reflect a fan's engagement with their favourites instead of charging every listener the same flat fee. 10% of superfans currently spend double for their streaming service - and if that trend continues, Goldman Sachs estimates that by 2030 it could generate more than $4 billion for streaming services.

Superfans superpowered

For the superfans themselves, this is an opportunity to be a part of the modern day fan forums that exist on platforms like Discord, reaching their favourite artists, sports teams and brands with a deeper level of access and interaction. And exclusive rewards targeted at the superfan allow community owners to celebrate their most passionate and engaged followers.

Some superfans, if they have the right skillset, can even join the team. With careful training, the most engaged superfans are even recruited to become moderators and help the community thrive.

We get to see superfans in action every day in Levellr's Discord communities. With such a huge opportunity for superfans and brands to engage with each other, finding and learning about those passionate supporters is crucial. That's why a community powered by Levellr is the perfect way to tap into the power of the superfan.

Your superfans are waiting. Contact Levellr today to find out how you can build a community which works for your brand.