Anyone can be an influencer. People no longer need to own a TV station to make their voice heard, and neither do they need to be particularly conscious about their social magnetism. Influencers simply have ‘it’, a social currency that makes them look good to others. People trust influencers to show the way. Whether they want advice about what mobile to buy, or diet to try, or simply connect them to others.
Anyone can be an influencer. But not for everyone, and not everywhere. Influencers gain their power through relations, and never in isolation. Their status is constantly being negotiated between people that share their passions and interests. Influencers must be understood within the context of their tribes. Influencers are tribal influencers.
It’s becoming increasingly important for companies and organizations to rely on networks to spread their messages. We now know that people trust their peers more than companies, and would rather hear about news from them. They also spend time in social media, and other spaces, to connect with them, rather than brands.
Organizations can adapt two network strategies. They can either build their own brand tribe, or reach out to existing consumer tribes. While some people will advocate one way over the other, both should be considered whenever possible. Regardless it’s important for companies to understand how people exercise influence within their tribes when reaching out to them. This will make their initiatives more native and successful.
The 7C’s of Tribal Influence
The thinking behind the 7C’s of tribal influence.
They are the type of people that tribal members look up to. They have often attained mythic status, and over time they become symbols that encapsulate tribal values, beliefs and meaning. For example Kevin Kelly is a chieftain for the quantified self movement.
The cooks are the content creators of for example articles, books, images and video. A good example is Chez Pim. Her blog attracts 10 000 global visitors every week that turn to her for advice about food. She writes about Michelin-starred restaurants, street food, cooking equipment and recipes.
Curators gain influence by consistently sharing interesting content that others have created. The best curators do not simply copy-n-paste, but rather take the time to translate and re-appropriate content for their tribe. An example is Robin Good that curates for a tribe of independent video publishers.
They are the people that organize the tribal happenings, such as the events, meet-ups and conferences. A good example of ceremonial masters is Larry Harvey and the 6-man board that organizes the annual Burning Man event. During a week people convene to build a city in the desert of Nevada, and then leave without a trace.
The regulars are the small guys that interact with the tribe on a regular basis. They are the natural advocates that bring their tribal identities with them wherever they go. Thanks to the research of the influencer scientists Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella, we now know that decisions are affected by micro rather than macro influencers.
The crone acts as the spirit master and guide. They are in charge of bringing in and educating the newbies. They help them get in sync with tribal culture, so that they slowly can build their tribal capital.
The chums are the most overlooked role of tribal influencers. They do not participate with the tribe on a daily basis, but connect through past experiences or shared values and beliefs. The chums always constitute the largest influencer group, and their potential stretches beyond the tribe at hand. They can act as powerful bridges and go-betweens into other tribes.
The 7Cs of tribal influence can help you identify and understand the needs and drivers behind tribal influencers, as well as defining your audiences as entire networks of people that share a lot in common. Influencers is one aspect of your tribal map, but not the only one. To be truly native and successful you should strive to understand and share as much of tribal culture as possible.
The 7Cs can also help you think about the role your company or organization can play to support a tribe. Consider how Red Bull are ceremonial masters for tribes that gather around extreme sports, or how Lowe acts as a crone for the home improvement tribe.
Don’t forget. Influencers are tribal influencers.
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