Stop trying to find your tribe. Build a community instead.
November 22, 2016
“A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognised leader.” Oxford Dictionary
In business speak the term ‘finding your tribe’ means looking for a way to find a group of loyal followers or like- minded people that ‘get’ your brand and feel the need to connect with you, usually via social media. You are the ‘recognised leader’ steering your people through the noise of the internet.
To be honest, I’m a little over the word tribe and trying to find my tribe. I get what it is trying to achieve, but it’s just another buzz word created by marketing experts to validate the need to gain a large number of followers on social media platforms.
The Oxford dictionary describes the historical usage of the word tribe as it relates to the less than desirable view of attitudes of white colonists towards natives. “For this reason it is generally preferable to use alternative terms such as community or people.”
Don’t you think that the word community has a more friendly approach to describe a group of people with a common tie? I live in a large suburb which has several schools, the biggest of which my children attend. You would think that in a school of over 600 students that there couldn’t possibly be a sense of community. And in a catchment area with a population of over 18,000 surely you couldn’t know every second person that you meet on the street?
Well, that maybe the case for some, but not for me.
I have a strong sense of belonging. I am connected to the school and greater community. I am engaged with this community and I actively participate in this community. The result is an overwhelming happiness that makes my heart smile. That is what a community should represent.
Today I dropped off my daughter at school later than usual. I stopped to talk to four different teachers plus the office staff. On the way out another two said hi. I stopped in at the local fish shop then fruit store for a purchase and friendly chat. It is these moments of human connection that create a community. These connections build relationships and support. Most importantly they fulfill a primal human need to belong.
We all desire to belong however the way that many people try to achieve this through social media is not always genuine. They measure their self-worth by numbers of followers or the amount of likes. They see this as an endorsement of their life or brand as being valid and rational. Humans seek approval and what better way than having a bunch of random people 'liking' what you do.
This is not what building a community is about. Yes, it is nice to know you have large numbers in your community that can amplify your message. However, you need to determine whether your message is a true reflection of your brand’s values. You need to provide your community with relevant content that they will be moved to interact with or share with others. Work on creating the small moments and personal connections as they will be the most memorable for you and your community.
So next time you watch a webinar or read an article on ‘how to find your tribe’, stop and think for a moment. Yes, go ahead and make connections, but make meaningful ones. Engage with potential clients, but make it authentic. Don’t go looking for more followers. Rather, go looking for meaningful moments to create personal connections. This
is when your heart will sing. This is when you will connect with the kinds of people who appreciate what you do and are likely to join your cause, buy your product or use your service.