How to Build a Tribe for your Business

Have you ever noticed that there are influencers on social media who mention an item and no sooner than they do it sells out? The cynical side of me believes there are certain people out there who could talk about how chic dust bunnies are and suddenly there’d be a host of people growing their own dust bunnies like they were chia pets.

But it takes a special personality, doesn’t it?

Maybe when all business dealings were in-person. But now that a lot of them are online, it doesn’t take an over-the-top personality to cultivate a tribe. In fact, you cannot only do it easily for yourself and your business, but the pandemic is the perfect time to start building your tribe if you don’t already have one.

What Is a Tribe? Why Do You Need One?

If you have a lot of time on your hands–and you don’t even need that much, it’s a quick read–you need to look into the book on the topic by Seth Godin. But assuming you want the abbreviated version…

A tribe is your group of people that you have influence with.

A tribe is not a specific number of followers. A tribe is measured by level of activity. For instance, if you know a preteen on Instagram they may shout excitedly every time someone follows them or likes their picture. In fact, you may be surprised at the amount of emotional energy they can spend caring about an emoji. For most preteens, this is proof that someone likes them and they get validation from that. As a business owner, you should be past that type of ego enforcement. Instead, you want sales.

After all, likes aren’t going to pay your rent.

So for you, a tribe is an active group of people who are interested in what you’re posting and will act on suggestions you make. Tribes are the basis for influencer marketing. If you want more sales, you need to develop a tribe. When you do, they will help you with word of mouth marketing.

Ways to Build Your Tribe

COVID has prevented us from doing a lot of things recently. But hopefully what it has done has helped you become more engaged with your audience on social media. Ideally, you’ve used this time to start connecting with customers and potential customers. If not, here are a couple of ideas you could be doing to build your tribe:

  • Go where your audience is. Figure out where they are on social media. If you don’t have accounts on those platforms, create them. If you have accounts that are no longer working for you and helping you connect, spend your conversation time elsewhere.
  • Start following and commenting. You can post really incredible stuff on social media but you’re assuming that the platform is showing your content to the people you most want to see it. Unless you’re paying for the views, that’s not always happening. However, if you comment on posts, you’re guaranteed the owner of the account will see it. Just make sure that when you do you are adding to the conversation and not simply trying to sell.
  • Be transparent. Don’t lie about who you are. Be open and honest.
  • Be friendly and encouraging. People are drawn to a positive attitude and will avoid those who constantly complain. Be a bright light in the darkness. However,…
  • Be real. While being positive is a good thing, you don’t want to appear fake. Share your struggles. But also share your plan for overcoming them. Show people that you’re human and ask them if they’ve ever had the same struggles. You might be surprised by the kind of way people open up.
  • Listen and interact. When people do open up, do a little more than just liking their comment. Look to continue the conversation by asking them a question or reflect on their feelings and show them the empathy they are likely hoping for.
  • Be you for the business. People find it easier to interact and connect with other people. Whenever you’re interacting on social media or posting blog posts, do so as an individual, not as a logo. If you want to use your business logo and name that’s fine. But make sure when you’re doing so that you give them your name too.

If this type of advice sounds familiar it’s probably because building a tribe for your business is similar to being a good friend. You want to be yourself and share the challenges and joys you have in life. Share your stories. Ask to hear theirs. These types of actions can have a very solidifying effect on your budding relationship. And a strong relationship will mean more revenue through word of mouth marketing in the future.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.