Creating an Engaging Brand Strategy Part 2: Finding and Enlisting your Tribe

by | May 5, 2020 | Branding, Community Building

This is part two in the “Creating and Engaging Brand Strategy” series. Check out part 1 that talked about creating the core of your brand: A purpose statement.

You’ve created this awesome idea that will help people and change the world, and you’ve clearly defined the purpose of your company. But who will join you in making this idea come to life?

The importance of having a tribe

The concept of a “Tribe” has been popularized by marketing genius Seth Godin.

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

This idea of a tribe is essential to any startup business, but even more so for social-impact startups. Your tribe is the early group of enthusiastic customers/supporters who help you grow your company.

Think of a self-funded seed stage social enterprise as a community garden (a concept expanded upon here). Your tribe are the volunteers who bring shovels, seeds, and sweat equity together to build something great. You can’t build a real tribe without authentic passion for your company and the purpose it represents. However, authentic passion is just step one. Here are other things you can do to gather the right people to support your budding social enterprise

Capture your best tribe members with personas

When creating your persona, think about the attributes of your best customers, donors, or supporters. Personas give you a guideline to the type of person you want to reach out to, what to say, and where you can find them. Don’t make the first persona too complicated.

A good starter persona includes these elements:

  1. Aspirational Identity + Goals: Who do your best tribe members want to become? What do they want? Who do they look up to?
  2. Problems: What is stopping them from becoming this person? What do they lack?
  3. Pain Points: How are their problems making them feel? Try to be specific with these feelings. For example, “sad that they can’t save people” is much better than “sad”.
  4. Presence: Where can you find this type of person? What type of Reddit Threads, Facebook Groups, and Slack Channels is this person on? Where do they hang out in person?

There are a hell of a lot more things you could put in the persona, but these are a good starting point.

Note: Talk to 10-15 people who you could consider good tribe members before you solidify your first personas. Then evolve them overtime as your understanding of your tribe deepens.

Using your personas

So now you have an archetype of your perfect tribe member. What do you do with it?

Connect to their aspirational identity in reach outs

Here’s how you can use a reach out template that speaks to someone’s aspirational identity and goals:

Hey, {name}! I’m Adam, from {company name}. We’ve created a community for {aspirational identity + common goal}. Want to join?

Here’s how you can put this into practice. Let’s say the person I’m reaching out to wants to be a Social Entrepreneur (creative, right?).

Hey, John! I’m Adam from We’ve created a community for successful social entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies. Would you like to join?

Btw, I’m actually starting that community. Sign up for my email list to keep updated with it 🙂

If you’re a social entrepreneur, isn’t that compelling? I’m speaking directly to who that person wants to be in my message. Experiment with the different persona elements you use to influence your messaging. Then double down on what resonates with people.

After you’ve created your personas, it’s time to start growing your tribe by connecting with new potential members!

Meet your tribe at their gathering spaces

People group themselves all the time by interests. The internet has made it incredibly easy to search for people by their interests. Here are some easy wins to find good members of your tribe:

  1. Sub-reddits and Facebook Groups. Is your tribe eco-conscious women? Think of some keywords that you can use (environmental, sustainable, green, etc) and get to searching! then you can reach out to them personally with your messaging.
  2. Slack Groups. While slightly more difficult to find, always be on the lookout for Slack communities that might overlap with the tribe you’re trying to create. Engage with the communities, broadcast your purpose, and the right people will make themselves clear by engaging back with you.
  3. Eventbrite and Meetup Although we’re in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, this one will be crucial once things open back up. Search for local events in Eventbrite and Meetup that have people who might connect to your purpose. Then go meet people and enjoy genuine, in-person connection! Always follow up so they don’t miss out on what you have to offer.

For your initial tribe at the seed stage, you don’t necessarily want a ton of people. Make sure you’re intentional about the people you recruit, and keep them engaged by giving them jobs to do! They can share your company with their network, create content, and give feedback on your product or service.

Overtime, you’ll see that different people want to go deeper. Some want to stay on the surface, and that’s fine! You just need to provide different levels of involvement to accommodate people with varying lives. But before you create different levels of involvement you must create a gathering space so you can communicate seamlessly with your tribe.

Create a gathering space

To do this is simple:

  1. Set the goal of your gathering space. Is it a close-knit, mastermind-style group? Is it an informal hangout? Think about the goals that your user can accomplish in this gathering space.
  2. Figure out what digital platforms your tribe is most comfortable with. If people hate Facebook, try Slack. If people hate Slack, try Discord. For efficient communication, I highly recommend either Slack or Discord. The channel format makes things much easier. If you’re aiming for a more open, social platform, you could try a Facebook group, or even Mighty Networks.
  3. Put together a set of instructions for use and behavior that guides people to the best experience in the group.
  4. Make sure you stay active! You’re the leader, people look to you for guidance. Delegate interaction to a team member that’s closely tuned in with your purpose or budget 30 minutes a day to post and interact in the space.

For in-person spaces:

I’m not going to pretend to be expert in this, but here’s what I’ve seen works:

  1. Have a recurring date and time for people to meet. Make it low-pressure but high value. Every two weeks or once a month is usually good for in-person. It can’t be to often or people will burnout.
  2. Select a friendly community venue that aligns with your purpose. See if you can get a discount for your group since you meet there every 2 weeks/month.
  3. Make it mandatory for all of your team members to show up. Everyone should interact with your tribe – it’s valuable passive user research. You gain understanding on the perspective of your target customers. That helps you market to them better!

The richest communities have online and offline presences. Think about how you could combine these spaces to give people different levels of involvement – the final step to building a rich tribe that pushes your business to the next level!

Give people different levels of involvement

As you grow your tribe, you’ll see that some members are chomping at the bit. They’ll always be looking for more ways to get more involved with your community and business. Empower them! Meet with them one-on-one and see if there’s a spot for them on your team as a community liason, moderator, or another special position.

These deeply-involved people hold the key to your early success. If prompted, they’ll tell all their friends about what you’re doing. They’ll do the dirty work of finding other potential tribe members and bringing them in. They’ll have great ideas about what you can do to enrich the experiences you provide in your product, service, or gathering spaces. Let them know you’re listening! Think about what rewards or incentives you can give them for going above and beyond.

Keep your tribe engaged!

A well-supported tribe can take your company from seed-stage to growth stage by:

  • Providing quick and consistent feedback on your products and services.
  • Recruiting other tribe members/customers.
  • Giving you ideas to add to your current offering.
  • Evangelizing the awesomeness of your purpose and company to the world.

Are you trying to build a tribe? What are you struggling with? Reply in the comments or send me a message I’d love to help!


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