Are you fighting for followers or cultivating a community around your brand?
We’ve been following celebrities for as long as we can remember—whether it was flipping through trashy gossip magazines in the checkout line, perusing gossip blogs during down time at our 9 to 5, or indulging in Joel McHale’s antics on episodes of The Soup.
These days, however, there’s a new celebrity in town: YOU.
- You have a hit YouTube show (well, it will predictably become a hit when more people learn about it).
- You have a blog where you put those CNN correspondent-worthy journalism skills to use to share the latest on The Hill with your twenty readers (okay, eighteen, not counting your mom and sister).
- You’re the next big thing in the world of Downtown Los Angeles landscape photography, and you attracted other aspiring artists to your work.
Whoever you are, wherever you are (Twitter, YouTube, WordPress), and whatever you specialize in, you have a call to make. You owe it to your brand, your business, and your peeps. Answer me this: Are you fighting for followers or cultivating a community?
Followers v. Community
A follower is a devotee—often, someone who wants what you have.
A community or tribe member is a fellow instigator—often, someone who is inspired by your brand and starts their own initiatives.
I want to argue that “Follow me!” should not be your prevailing request. I believe in cultivating community to bring like-minded people together to exchange ideas, support each other, and move mountains.
As Seth Godin defines it, a tribe is a group of people who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea.
(S/O to Krissdidit.com for the fun graphic!)
“Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
How do you know if you have a tribe? (Hint: Take the Tribe Test.)
Although some of the most prolific tribes formed organically with almost no prodding from the tribe leader, a lot of tribes sprout roots because the tribe leader takes the initiative to bring their peeps together. Here are four ways (five, including the bonus) to give your peeps what they need to form a community.
- Provide a place for your peeps to gather. This could be online or offline, public or private. Nomadness Travel Tribe has a private Facebook group and meetups all over the world for members.
- Empower your peeps to talk amongst themselves. You’re not the only one engaging with your peeps, but they’re engaging with each other. They seek and provide specialized advice they can’t get readily from anywhere else. In the Nomadness Travel Tribe private Facebook group, members exchange travel saving tips, organize group trips, and provide moral support. For instance, a member expressed frustration regarding single friends’ unwillingness to travel by themselves, and this garnered 66 comments in just two days! (We’re new here are Brand New Nation and are building up to this!)
- Rally your peeps around a common purpose. Every tribe has something that binds them together—a common passion, set of beliefs, goal they want to accomplish, specific way they want to change the world, etc. At Brand New Nation, we rally our peeps around the desire to #getbrandnew—that is, constantly learning new skills and knowledge to drive our brands and businesses forward.
- Inspire your peeps to start their own initiatives. Followers watch and admire you from afar. They admire your accomplishments but take no actions themselves. You know you have a tribe when your brand has legs. You find that your peeps are starting initiatives of their own, inspired by your brand. For example, at the 2012 World Domination Summit, Chris Guillebeau gifted all attendees a $100 bill to invest somewhere (in themselves or others). Because of this, WDSers are off starting their own revolutions with the $100, including Natalie Sisson who created the $100 Change program.
BONUS: Address your peeps by a special name. One way to create a sense of community amongst your peeps is to address them by a name. Lady Gaga created an online community for her peeps and refers to them as her Monsters. We call our peeps—you guessed it—Brand New Nation. This isn’t an essential step in establishing a tribe; it’s merely another way to cultivate a sense of belonging to a larger body.
Who has grown a tribe around its brand? Let me know in the comments below!