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What is a tribe and why does it matter for digital marketing?

Chuck Aikens, Volume Nine
Find out how to get past the social media algorithms and connect with your brand's audience.

Let’s be honest: There’s a lot of noise online. As a brand, you have more than one competitor and it can feel like an uphill battle to be seen. You know the power of social media, but your audience’s feed is curated by an algorithm.

This can be incredibly frustrating for lifestyle brands and, really, any brand out there today. But there may be a way to make this reality work for you: tap into a tribe.

What’s a tribe? 

As author and entrepreneur Seth Godin put it, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea.” Tribes are groups of people who align with a similar lifestyle, similar values, similar interests. They might even go so far as feeling like a subculture—think of Harley Davidson owners. The people who ride those motorcycles recognize each other’s status, dress similarly and even create “gangs.”

That is the epitome of a tribe. And for many brands today, that tribal connection is what it takes to grow.

Tribal marketing in today’s digital world

Brands who want to really establish a hold in their industry or niche know they need to tap into the power of tribes. Knowing your tribe means knowing exactly who you’re talking to and what they want. Knowing your tribe—and connecting with them—means knowing your audience’s lifestyle, either the one they have or they one they want. All of that advises your marketing campaigns and changes how you sell.

Of course, these tribes are no longer just physical, geographically connected groups. Today’s tribes are online.

How can you find your “tribe” online?

Now that you know what a difference tribes can make in the effectiveness of your marketing, let’s talk about how to find and connect with yours:

  • Identify your tribe. Start with a very particular audience. Understand it, segment it, and identify what they truly want. Focus on lifestyle especially and know where they interact most online.
  • Develop content and creative that resonates. Create something that resonates with your tribe. Give them something that’s easy to share, easy to identify with, something that makes them say, “That’s so me.”
  • Promote your tribe. Encourage users to share their story (user-generated content) and allow your consumers to connect with each other using hashtags, community engagement, groups, etc.

Another tribal marketing move to try? Find ambassadors.

Ambassadors: The connection to your tribe

It can be difficult to really connect with your tribe online. The algorithm isn’t always in your favor, and the need for social proof is higher than ever. This is why you need to find and partner with ambassadors—people who advocate for your brand as a reflection of their tribal values. Sometimes, this ambassador is already a customer. Sometimes, they’re unfamiliar with your brand but align perfectly with the lifestyle you advocate for.

When you lean into tribal marketing, you lean into a new way of selling: It’s less based on numbers and more focused on people. But in the end, that’s what today’s consumers want.

For more information on how to connect with your tribe and work with brand ambassadors, you can check out Volume Nine’s full-length Guide to Lifestyle Marketing.

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