Top 10 Tips for Building a Tribe

Of course this blog is inspired by Seth Godin’s ‘Tribes’ book. Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change.

I agree. Any digital work I have done that has had an impact has been led by this idea. People want to belong. If you have a good idea / product / service you’re half-way there. Needless to say if you don’t, don’t even bother trying to build a tribe around it. Go on, be honest, is it really good?

Building an online tribe means finding your true fans, the people who will help your work spread.

Like Kevin Kelly has taught us is that we don’t need everybody. We just need true fans. 1,000 true fans.

We don’t need everyone, we just need a group of people who become as passionate about what you are offering as you are. Who will promote it unprompted because it’s that good. And  who would sing a song about it if you took it away.

People want to belong. We need to find others who share our passion and provide the tools for the tribe to connect and communicate.

So how do you do it? Here are our Top 10 Tips for Building a Tribe.

1.   Have A Strategy

Ask yourself what you can do to inspire and engage the tribe. Are you inspiring? Do you have visible passion for your cause?

2. Spread An Idea Worth Spreading:belfast mural marriage equality

Tribes form when people are passionate about ideas.

Some good recent examples in Ireland include:


New-York based marketer Margaret Molloy ignited the #WearingIrish campaign which gained huge traction around St Patrick’s Day 2017 by getting people to wear something by an Irish designer at least once in March. See more on here.


The campaign ignited in the wake of the launch of the Abbey Theatre’s programme of commemoration for the centenary of 1916 which features just one play written by a woman among the ten chosen. The national theatre’s outgoing director Fiach MacConghail has come under fire for his ‘Waking the Nation’ programme with the hashtag #WakingTheFeminists trending on Twitter as people weighed in on the debate.


In May 2015 Irish emigrants flocked back from all over the world to vote in the same-sex marriage referendum. Twitter was lit up by their photos, videos, messages, and stories.

3. Encourage Your Tribe:

Challenge the tribe: give them a project to work on together with a shared goal. Lead the conversation, make it easy to participate and then reward those who do the most.

Example: In 2015 I supported the digital activities to celebrate WB Yeats’ 150th birthday. For our Yeats Day 2015 campaign in June, we asked our audiences to post a Yeats poem. The Yeats Day digital campaign created blanket coverage of the Yeats’ birthday

celebrations online through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and reached an audience of around 900,000 via social media.

4. Tap Your Audience:

Do they have something special to contribute? Do you know what talents exist within your tribe?

Example: I created content for on living in Sligo. I did this by asking those influencers who I knew locally to answer a survey. They did because they trust me to create something good with it and that has a wide audience. In the content I credited everybody who contributed. Once the content was live I prompted all contributors. Of course they shared it to all their networks. It became the most shared piece of content on in 2015.

5. Measure Your Tribal Pulse

You need to decide what your key metrics are based on the tools your tribe uses to communicate. However communication is at the heart of it. And it needs to be two-way. Members must engage or else they are just names on a list and not part of the tribe. You must check these metrics often or risk losing the power of the collective.

6. Make Epic Stuff

Create epic content. Of course this idea isn’t new but it works. This content should be totally unique and super useful. Make sure your tribe are included in the creation of this content; ask their opinion and credit their contribution. Use social media to crowd-source this input. Provide value. Give them something that will make their lives easier, time at work more fun / interesting / easier. Do it in a nice format, give them bite-sized chunks in ebooks etc.

Then of course once you have put all that time into creating epic content: spend much more time sharing it well. Alan O’Rourke has an extremely useful blogpost here on a marketing plan to promote your content. I will openly admit that I very often spend ridiculous amounts of time creating content and then promote it once and move on to the next idea.

7. Meet Them

Physical events can have the biggest impact on energising and mobilising your tribe. For the last two years I have run Swell Sligo; a network for the web, creative and start-up community in Sligo.

We offer off-beat networking events with great speakers, good food and interesting locations like a seaside, an unused airport and an old factory.

Our events are always over-subscribed, speaker requests are never turned down and our engagement rates through social media and email newsletters are ridiculously high. People trust the brand and want to be a part of it. The physcial events make that happen.

Killer Tribal Tools

8. Use FollowerWonk to analyse a brands followers. Check via excel to see how many journalists they have. If they follow you in Twitter you can target them with your assets.

9. Engagement is truly vital, it’s much more important than numbers. Use Buzzsumo to find influencers sharing similar content to yours. Look for content with lots of rts.

10. Custom Audiences / Tailored Audiences:

Take customer email lists and upload them to the appropriate platforms e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords which then enables you to display very specific ads to very specific people.

Use Facebook audiences to target your mailing list of customers who have previously bought from you or signed-up to your mailing list.

You can also create audiences in Google AdWords with your customer databases.




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