People gather in tribes around strong passions like fishing, scrapbooking and gaming. Everyone belongs to lots of different tribes, and we move between them with ease. Our tribes gather in many different places to share and celebrate a common sense of belonging. For example the gaming tribe likes to gather on YouTube, but less on Pinterest, and the reverse is true for the scrapbooking tribe.
With tribes in mind, isn’t it strange that many companies still define their online groups as strangers with little in common? What do 35 year old women in Berlin really have in common? Today we find that many passions transcend traditional markers. For example runners are not defined by their age, or sex, but by their passion for running.
Have you noticed any companies acting intrusively or weirdo on the social web? While they may master the fundamental codes of the channel, for example Twitter, they fail to tune in with the tribes that populate them. Twitter is not one big mass of individuals, but rather lots of different tribes, each with their own distinct culture. To deeply connect with them you need to understand what they have in common. What are their values, beliefs, jargon, traditions and practices? Either you are in or you are out.
When was the last time you saw user statistics from Facebook or Instagram based on passions like fishing or yoga? Could it be that you haven’t, and that it was based on characteristics like age, sex, and nationality? Those mass communication markers which are becoming increasingly outdated? That fail to recognize that we use passions to connect with others beyond closest family and friends?
When you start to unravel the tribal structure of the web you actually get a better understanding of reality. You start moving from a concept of isolated individuals with little in common to connected tribes with lots in common. This will potentially allow your thinking and actions to attain new heights, as you find cultural wells to draw on.
Defining who your tribes are, is a good starting point. Identifying key influencers and where they gather is another. Understanding their culture and tuning in to that frequency is the next step. This will make your communication more native, relevant and effective.Download a large version of the infographic