Tapping in to the wisdom of crowds is immensely popular, for example through crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. That’s not surprising at all, considering it’s what we humans do best – namely band together and do stuff. What is more surprising is that it has taken this long. After all, we’ve been doing this for ages, across campfires, IRC channels, multi-user dungeons, bulletin boards and what not.
Why has it taken so long for entrepreneurs and business folk to appreciate the power of crowds? We have obviously been misguided by an outdated mindset; that stems from the industrial age. Our perspectives have been overly top-down, inside-out and know-it-all. Luckily the remedy is really easy. To begin changing the niche you are in, you don’t need another seminar, book or blog post. All you need is this:
You don’t need to be a smart-ass guru to disrupt your industry. All you need to be is… a little more human. Tweet this!
Busting the crowd myth
Appreciating and leveraging crowds is a signal of good health. It demonstrates that we are starting to shun outdated business logics, and on a path to re-discover what we already know: how to be human. While a crowdsourcing mindset is a nice leap, it is simply one step along the way. The concepts and methods of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are not that impressive. They are still a remnant of our mass industrial legacy (!). Let’s have a closer look.
Jeff Howe, editor at Wired, described crowdsourcing like this in the NY Times in 2009:
“The act of taking a job once performed by a designated agent (an employee, freelancer, or a separate firm) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people through the form of an open call, which usually takes place over the Internet.”
Undefined. When would you ever advise anyone to talk to an undefined crowd? This is really bad advice for someone looking to launch their product and build their business. The more you know about the people you want to connect with, the more likely you are to be as relevant and valuable as possible. The more likely you are to succeed.
Undefined crowds are never a good idea. If they ever had a place, it was in a mass broadcasting context, such as radio or TV. With mass broadcasting you will always be reaching undefined crowds, and hoping they respond to your open call bombardment. Kind of like shooting arrows into the dark.
There is never a reason to communicate with undefined crowds on the Internet. The social web is tribal, not crowdal. We all belong to many tribes, that gather around specific interests like hockey, True Detective, or home decor.
Sceptic? See this image graciously provided by the tribal influencer tool E-cairn. It clearly demonstrates how people band together around interests, and share information.
Understanding tribes is the same as understanding the structure of the social web. Tribes describe how we relate, and how information spreads. Crowds are ignorant to this fact, and not helpful at all. The fact is: crowds only exist to entrepreneurs and marketers that don’t know who they are talking to. Consider this:
Crowdsourcing involves an open call to an undefined crowd. Tribesourcing involves a direct invitation to one ore more identified tribes. Tweet this!
From crowdfunding to tribefunding
The rest of this blog post is going be to about tribefunding, but it also applies to a lot of internet marketing.
Many people that run funding campaigns on sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and FundedByMe do not do any real marketing. They simply follow the crowdsourcing recipe of the day: to make an open call to an undefined group. Maybe this is the reason, that more than 50% of all Kickstarter campaigns fail?
As a tribefunder you don’t have make this mistake, and leave everything to chance. You will not be oblivious to the people you are trying to connect with. You will rather have a superior target group definition. Crowds have nothing in common. Tribes have everything in common. Their very existence is based on sharing. People within a tribe share the same values, beliefs, experiences, languages, places, and influencers. This implies that they can be identified, and receive extremely tailored invitations in a language they speak, in a place they occupy.
6 Actionable Tribefunding Ideas
With a new tribal mindset you can now move on and implement some of these super actionable ideas.
1. List the tribes that relate to your product
You are going to make a list of the type of interests that people have that relate to your product. Interests can include anything from entrepreneurship, science fiction, airplanes, to scrapbooking. With this list in hand you are going to evaluate these tribes using the following criteria: 1) their size, 2) relevancy to your product, and 3) your credibility with this tribe. You now have a list which is far superior than any undefined crowd, because these people can actually be identified.
2. List top tribal influencers and personally invite them
There are many ways to both find and connect with tribal influencers. Why are social influencers important? They are people that others look up to, and your new product is going to need this secret ingredient: social proof. We are creatures of pattern-recognition, and we like to do what other people are doing.
One easy way is to use an influencer service like Traackr. With Traackr you will be able to find and connect with the influencers that matter the most, to the tribes you have listed and decided to reach.
3. List places where these tribes gather and invite them to join
The tribes you want to reach, are probably not where you are. The reason many companies don’t have an outreach component in their digital strategy is that they 1) don’t understand that tribal web and 2) have no clue where to find tribes. They sleep happily at night knowing that their digital channels are stuffed with broadcasted content.
As a tribal growth hacker, you are not going to fall in to that trap. To achieve the results you need, you are going to move beyond open uncertain calls and go out and meet people on their own turf.
Understanding that different tribes, and tribal influencers, prefer different social outlets you can start looking in these places: hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, groups on Facebook and Google+, as well as boards on Pinterest and the world wide web.
Once you have found them, you are not going to approach them all the same way. You are going to tailor messages and activities that resonate with their values. Use the fact that you know who you are talking to, to your advantage.
4. List 5 similar projects and partner with them
Create a list of similar funding projects and partner with them. Similar in what way? Similar in that they connect with similar tribes. For example: people that buy eco-friendly bare running shoes, will also be interested in your eco-friendly product.
Once, you have created this list you will weed it down to 5, based on who is doing the best job of reaching and engaging their tribes. You are after all not only looking for joint causes, but joint marketing efforts.
5. Find backers on twitter that have supported similar projects
Search on twitter for people that tweeted that they have backed similar projects, for example: “I just backed SCI-FEST on @Kickstarter”. What you have managed to do is amazing. You now have a list of people that:
1) are active on twitter, and not simply a ghost account
2) are members of the tribe you want to connect with
3) have an active funding habit
4) use funding as a device for self-expression (potentially amazing advocates for your product)
This is actually quite amazing, and doesn’t get any better than this. If you decide to simply follow one piece of advice given here, then this would be it. You will not find this tip anywhere else, and it will give you crazy conversions!
6. List your ambassadors and nurture them
All the advice given so far has been about connecting with existing tribes. This last piece of advice, is about another ball game. It is about building your own tribe, where YOU are the center of attention.
Setup an account on Mention.net and monitor anyone that mentions your project on the web. Keep a list of all your advocates and nurture them. For example: make stylish personalized JPG badges, acknowledging them as your ambassadors. Do not fall into the lazy trap of creating generic badges. (You will of course be making badges for all your backers, but ambassador badges are going to be something special.)
Thanks for listening. Don’t forget. Undefined crowds only exist, for the people that don’t know who they are talking to. People that don’t want to be in the dark, and bet on chance, can partner with identified tribes.
Are you planning on doing some tribefunding? Is there any super actionable tribefunding method that you would like to add to this list?