How to define your
Brand Tribe
and engage them online


Brand Tribe

Let us first consider why we are discussing Tribes and not individuals and what is a Tribe. In many marketing manuals, we are instructed to treat everyone as an individual, to understand and respond to an individual as an individual and consequently to build relationships. Thinking as people as individuals is important, and it is essential not to over-generalise people into very wide groups such as men and women and assume they all with react in the same way. Nevertheless, Tribes are an elemental social grouping and if identified narrowly are a fantastic way to find your audience.

Think of a Tribe as a community of like-minded, like-feeling individuals – made entirely voluntary. Tribes of old were constrained by geography and so were local, today’s social media has changed the nature of Tribes were locality is no longer an issue. Further today’s online Tribes can exert and influence that is not directly correlated to its size but rather the cause it represents and how effectively the Tribe can use the communication tools available to them.

To illustrate the point, think of the membership of a Facebook Group, – the group has an overall topic (a common interest) and all are allowed to share relevant content. Over a relatively short period of time the members of the group will form social bonds even though they don’t meet in person and are not friends in the offline world.

Communicating with relevant Tribes is key to influencer success

To learn some simple lessons that can be applied online, let us consider an example of a visible off-line Tribe: – A ‘Bike Tribe’

Cycling has built in considerably in popularity and many who cycle at the weekend, wearing highly visible lycra, do so in groups and form clubs. Some forward-thinking Bike shops have recognized an opportunity to style themselves as hubs for members to meet before or after a ride, to bond, drink coffee – and shop. Changing the feel of the bike shop to a place to meet and chat with other ‘bike people’, and slowed down the pace of browsing to more of an experience of belonging makes visitors more receptive and more open to suggestion and purchase.

To understand how to create influence it’s important to understand why people follow Tribal Leaders

A Tribe is not (normally) about a single purchase, the ‘Bike Tribe’ is not about owning a bike (many people own bikes and are not part of the Tribe), it’s about a much deeper set of common beliefs and passions. The Bike Tribe is much more about the regardless of the weather the ‘bikers’ are out training and pushing themselves up hills and mountains and enjoying the aching muscles.

It is important to understand that members of Tribes are segmented and are likely to part of the Tribe for different reasons. Staying with the Bike Tribe, some may be into the fashion, some into the environmentalism and others just like the feel of open space and freedom.

A real understanding of the Tribe, their beliefs and desires, will power the influencer to communicate with greater empathy and so the influencers message becomes more meaningful – and influential.

Forming your own Tribe

Think about the world you want in relation to your passion, and find post and promote content consistent with your values. As followers join you look for the sweet spot where your values align with theirs, the things you both care about. Consider whether you can create more targeted content based on your followers’ feedback and attitudes and specific needs. Find ways to create a ‘tribal hut’ more welcoming, – providing a virtual space through a webinar, forum or Naver Café where your tribe can meet and grow.

Tribe Members

It is true that anyone can be an influencer, but it is not possible to influence all the people everywhere. Influence power is gained through relations between people that share their passions and interests. Influencers must be understood within the context of their tribes. Influencers are tribal influencers.

Within any Tribe people often assume different informal roles:


They are the type of people that tribal members look up to. They have often attained mythic status, and over time they become symbols that encapsulate tribal values, beliefs and meaning.


The cooks are the content creators of for example articles, books, images and video.


Curators gain influence by consistently sharing interesting content that others have created. The best curators do not simply copy-n-paste, but rather take the time to translate and re-appropriate content for their tribe.

Ceremonial Master

They are the people that organize the tribal happenings, such as the events, meet-ups and conferences.

Community Member

The regulars are the guys that interact with the tribe on a regular basis. They are the natural advocates that bring their tribal identities with them wherever they go.


The crone acts as the spirit master and guide. They are in charge of bringing in and educating the newbies. They help them get in sync with tribal culture, so that they slowly can build their tribal capital.


Chums do not participate with the tribe on a daily basis, but connect through past experiences or shared values and beliefs. The chums always constitute the largest influencer group, and their potential stretches beyond the tribe at hand. They can act as powerful bridges and go-betweens into other tribes.

By understanding the modes of Tribal influence can help you identify and understand the needs and drivers behind Tribal influencers, as well as defining your audiences as entire networks of people that share a lot in common.