When did ‘tribe’ become the new marketing flashword?
‘to become an influencer you need to build your tribe’
‘come join my tribe!’
‘we are a tribe of like minded people’
I mean, I understand it. Tribe is a strong word. It’s emotive. Primal. Evokes the feeling of deep belonging on a fundamental level. Of having a place, a family. I hear it and I imagine sitting around a camp fire with jungle drums playing distantly in the background, and feeling one with the world. Or perhaps, that’s just me.
In today’s world, technology is helping to both connect and drive us apart. Sensationalist media, text messages, memes, all of these things desensitise us to who we are. When the things that bind us are becoming more transactional, temporary or translucent – the idea of a raw and basic connection feels warmly intimate. Human.
Before tribes we had the idea of creating raving fans.
Ok that concept I got. Identify and nurture people who are your biggest advocates. Who would line up for hours to buy your products (hello Apple), who would fiercely defend you to anyone who dared cast a negative eye towards you (should your phones happen to be bendy).
Sometimes your biggest critics could even become your biggest fans, if you did things right. Copped the criticism and showed that you were bigger than that, and could turn a disbeliever into a Belieber. But there was always something a little borderline crazy about the idea of raving. A fine line between fierce defence, and frothing at the mouth. I’m pretty glad we moved on from that.
Even before that we had the idea of building communities.
Call me a little old fashioned, but the idea of ‘community’ has always been the one that I’ve resonated with the most. I live in a community. Grew up in one. As kids we all played outside, left doors unlocked, and had complete trust in those around us (those were the days). Community is about family, support, neighbours, and being surrounded by a support network of people who care about you. Have empathy for you, and will always be there to help.
In the end, whatever the term, these things are all reinventions of the same essential core idea. It’s about people.
In business, and in life, the relationships that you water are the same ones that grow. That much hasn’t changed since the time of cavemen in tribes (hey there it is again!) right through to modern times and raving Bieber fans.
What was important then, is still relevant now, and that commonality presents some simple lessons to always remember –
- Be authentic and genuine in your relationships
- Have empathy for the experiences of others, and have their back
- Connect with people, and connect them to others without expectation of reciprocity
- Contribute to society for the greater good
I feel that in business, if you can do that well; If you simply take responsibility for the choices you make in how you work with people – then becoming an influencer, and building a community, or tribe, or fan is a consequence of who YOU are.
It’s really that simple.