There seems to be a lot of buzz around tribes at the moment. Individuals, business, organisations and brands all seem to be looking to connect and engage their tribes, both online and in the real world. It’s not a new thing. In fact, as inherently social creatures people have craved a sense of belonging for thousands of years – a craving which led us to instinctively seek out tribes to feed this need.
What are Tribes?
We have family tribes and friend tribes and social tribes – but it has only been in relatively recent years that people have begun to really recognise consumers and fans as tribes. Or at least, recognised the immense value in cultivating and nurturing these tribes in a reciprocal way.
Thanks in part to the popularisation of social networking, in conjunction with the refocusing of web 2.0, and articulated like never before in Seth Godin’s 2008 book, Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, tribe-finding, whether we recognise it or not, has become an incredibly important component in contemporary marketing and relationship building for businesses.
In short, finding and engaging your tribe is not about how many followers or likes you can accumulate – it’s about building relationships and cultivating conversations.
How do Tribes Relate to Business?
As Godin himself describes in this TED Talk presentation on The Tribes We Lead (which you should definitely take the time to check out in full), the real focus in business now is on leadership, finding something worth changing and challenging the status quo, and finding your true fans – your tribe – to carry your message to the world until it becomes a movement.
“It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas, and it’s something that people have wanted forever…
“It turns out that it’s tribes – not money, not factories – that can change our world… that can align large numbers of people. Not because you force them to do something against their will, but because they wanted to connect.”
Godin is quick to remind business owners and entrepreneurs that their idea or product or service isn’t for everyone – and it doesn’t need to be. In some cases you may only need 1000 True Fans to support your idea and make it sustainable as a business and grow it to the next level.
He asserts the real power nowadays comes from telling a story, connecting a tribe, leading a movement, and making change.
“What all these people have in common is that they are heretics. The heretics look at the status quo and say, ‘this will not stand – I can’t abide the status quo, I am willing to stand up and be counted and move things forward. I see what the status quo is and I don’t like it…”
So, How do You Find Your Tribe?
Finding your tribe – and at the same time, your true fans – is so easy you’re probably already doing it. What it comes down to is creating conversations. Reciprocal dialogue. Asking questions and offering suggestions.
You’ll find your tribe on Facebook and Twitter, and maybe even LinkedIn. You’ll see them commenting on your blog posts. You’ll be drawn to comment on their blogs. You’ll find them in the real world, at industry conferences and interest-based Meetups. You’ll chat with them on the shop floor of your physical store (if you have one). Your true tribe will come together effortlessly – because otherwise, they’re just not your tribe. All you need to do is make yourself known and open the lines of communication and engagement.
How do you connect with your tribe?