How to Build a Tribal Following for Your Content


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The word "tribe" has become all the rage in marketing circles. Let's first start with the technical definition according to Google Dictionary: 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 recognized leader.

Let's turn our attention to the section marketers focus on and in which content creators target their time and attention: "communities linked by social ties with a common culture." The other piece of this definition that's important is the description of social division in traditional societies. These groups are subsets of society.

For example, there are FIFA World Cup soccer fans-people who pour themselves into this unifying event every four years, similar to the Olympics. There are U.S. soccer fans who know the players and probably follow European soccer and Major League Soccer (MLS). Then, there are the American Outlaws. This group of American soccer fans packs end zones of the U.S. Men's National Team's (MNT) games year in and year out.

They keep alive the powerful chant born from a military football cry-"I believe! I believe that we ... I believe that we will win! I believe that we will WIN!" They exist in sublevel Facebook groups. They wear American flag scarves on their faces to signify their intensity. They are the epitome the term "fan." They are fanatics. They are a tribe.

The American Outlaws are a passionate community of individuals who come together for a common goal or interest. This group-and groups similar to it all throughout the world-are a marketer's dream come true, even if they aren't easy to reach.

So how do you build a tribal following for your content? Go deep. Depth is what your community desires. A sense of knowing who you are to the core-developing a transparency that lets your community feel it knows your deepest, darkest secrets. Here are some examples of this type of tribe building:

sethgodin.com-Easy one, right? Yes, Seth Godin wrote a book called Tribes, and in it he says, "A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate." He has built his own tribe, and he has done it by catering to a subset of business readers. There are business books. There are leadership books. Then there are Seth Godin books. Every person in sales and marketing knows this distinction and either chooses to be part of Seth's tribe or doesn't.

smartpassiveincome.com-Pat Flynn's story is why he built a tribe. Laid off in 2008, he took his fledgling LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) exam study website and plugged in Google Analytics, only to realize he had a tribe and didn't even know it. His traffic was off the charts. He penned an ebook and was off to the races in online business. But that's not the reason Flynn built a tribe of loyal followers. It was his story. Laid off, scared, and unsure, he pulled himself up and built a business, and his content today is a manifesto of the do's and don'ts of online business. He is authentic, genuine, and transparent. He is me and he is you, and that's why his story resonates and why his content is gobbled up.

nathanbarry.com-A graphic designer by trade, Nathan Barry decided he wanted out of corporate America. The steps he chronicled on his blog were fascinating, and they were the reason people wanted to follow him. His content is thorough and deep. He explained every facet of building his freelance and teaching business. He has a signature style, a kind of soft-spoken "nerdyism." Not too different from a lot of us EContent authors, and I'm sure not too different from you.

These are just three examples of tribal leaders I choose to follow. There are many more. Tribes are communities linked by social ties and a common culture. These groups have common beliefs. People are out there waiting for your content and for you to lead a culture of believers. There is a tribe for you and me out there. We just have to have the courage to be vulnerable and let people in. Go deep, and the tribe for your content will rise.