How to start a tribe.

A tribe is a specific group of people who resonate or identify with a brand. Members of a tribe can be long term users, new customers, potential customers and fans who don’t even necessarily buy your product. You might see a tribe as ‘Brand Loyalty for millenials’. As a company it is obvious you want to create and connect with your tribe

written by Jori | August 13, 2018


But how do you go about this?

The internet thrives with information on how to tackle this question, but it seldom goes beyond vague tips like ‘be genuine’, ‘connect’ and ‘be relevant’. All true, but hardly a concise battle plan to carry out. There are four factors that create a tribe: 

  1. Membership
  2. Influence
  3. Fulfilment
  4. Connection (and no, that’s not the same as ‘connect’)

1. Membership


A tribe is a social group sharing the same language, culture, and values. Anthropologists would probably add something about bloodlines, family and heritage, but in a marketing context this is necessary omission because being able to join a tribe is essential. It is a membership that can be earned or won. It can be as simple as liking a page, and as complex as getting trough a tedious selection program in becoming a member. But the ‘becoming a member’ is a crucial but often overlooked part of tribe-building.

The ‘becoming a member’ is a crucial but often overlooked part of tribe-building.

2. Influence


In contrast to classic outbound marketing,  tribal marketing is a dialog between company and customer. In order to be able to have this dialog, you need to create an environment where members feel like they have a say in what happens. It has to become a place that they care about. It has to provide them with value that they don’t want to lose.

This is why it’s important to talk to your users and get a really good idea of who they are. Not only will you be able to understand their needs (which is actually the next point), but it places brand and customer on equal grounds within the tribe, forming a trustworthy and dependable bond between them 

3. Fulfilment


Your tribe, like any other product, needs to solve a problem for its members in order to make it worth their time and contribution. Members need to feel rewarded in some way for their participation in the community in order to continue to contribute.

Some brands go so far as to allow their tribes to create their own products (custom shoes anybody?), but just satisfying curiosity is often an easier and cheaper method. Product launches, teasers and behind-the-scenes are all ways of answering a need for fulfilment. 

A third way is explicitly giving an advantage to your tribe: being able to get tickets because you were kept up to date by a Facebook-page, giving a discount-code to returning customers or giving bonuses to members getting their friends to join as well, are all great examples.

Product launches, teasers and behind-the-scenes are all ways of answering a need for fulfilment.

4. Connection


Lastly there is the sharing of an emotional connection. Having a story. Members will have a history of experiences together and the belief that there will be more experiences together in the future. Just ask any Belgian Red Devil fan about the game against Japan at the latest World Cup.

These experiences form a long lasting, emotional connection. That’s why a tribe that goes through a crisis often comes out much stronger because they’ve now shared a difficult situation, forging a strong emotional bond amongst members.

There you have it: the four factors needed to construct your own tribe. You’ll find these 4 elements in every tribe you know, whether they are Apple-fans, Beliebers or the local fanclub of SK Berlare. Or your loyal and returning customers.


Start your tribe.

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