Navigating the Tribal Web


Sometimes it’s difficult to see the forest for all the trees. The same may be true for influence marketing that identifies individuals, but often fails to recognize the significance of the tribes they are a part of. Tribes are literally everywhere, on every street corner of the web. They are the fabric of the social web, interweaving us with others that share our passions.

Tribes should not be treated as exotic trinkets to pimp your strategy, but rather sit at the core of everything you do. Tribes are everywhere and a social reality whether you plan on leveraging them or not. When people share your content they often do it with others that share their interests, and the value they attribute them are defined by their tribal culture. This makes tribes difficult to downplay, because they are the lens people use to judge and appraise your content.

The social value of your brand

Understanding tribes is essential for delivering true value in social media. What people value within their tribes should be considered in everything you do – from what you share, to whom and how you do it. When people share your stories, it helps them connect with their tribe. This linking ability – the ability for people to connect with others – is part of your brand’s social value.

Delivering social value places an emphasis on supporting relationships between people, which is why most people use social media anyways. Most people don’t want an active relationship with your brand, so it’s a good idea to help them pursue their intents. Many people would rather learn about you and your latest news from their peers. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important to leverage peer-to-peer sharing within tribes.

If you have a following of people that are enthusiastic about your brand, then you should consider activating them in your brand advocacy program and brand community. Do not intermix your tribal and brand community strategy. Advocates and influencers have different needs and utilities.

Navigating the tribal web 

A tribal map is a good idea if you want to deliver content and services for the tribal web. Identifying tribal influencers will help you prioritize the relationships you want to nurture for co-creating stories and experiences. It’s a lot easier to activate influencers if you know how to boost their social capital. Knowing about the places tribal members convene, online and offline, can help you select the proper channels to communicate.

Learning tribal language and jargon, such as the “dude”, “goofy-foot” and “barrels” of the surfer tribe, will give you insider skills. You should also think about language beyond text, and understand how it’s manifested in video and images. The tonality you use in your messages can also jive more or less with a tribe.

The stories, experiences and symbols that tribes share have the power to sustain and transform the individuals within them. Each tribe carries potent myths, and legends, as well as rituals and practices. While it’s great to know about all of these things, it’s exceedingly important to unpack the meaning and value they bring. The stories and experiences that you share should align with tribal values and help you become as meaningful, authentic and native as possible.

If influence marketing is a spear, then tribal marketing is the spearhead. Without a tribal perspective, influence marketing is at it’s best a shaft. Understanding how tribes affect what people do, and why they do it is a starting point for delivering true value. When you share stories and experiences with others it’s not only about the content, but also about sharing values and meaning.

If companies have  been practicing shouting for a long time, and until recently learned to socialize, then the next step is to master the arts of tribaling..

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