Building your tribe is a well known marketing concept, and many are attempting, some successfully and some not, to build that tribe using Social Media. While I was busy building my tribe, I made a few mistakes, and through that journey, I figured out one important truth that I would like to share with you: building your tribe is not about the numbers of people that ‘follow’ you, it’s about the individual people who follow and believe in you and your way.
Perhaps you can relate to this. When the social media movement came along with the promise to build my tribe, I truly hoped it would pass me by. I was already working crazy hours to build my business and doing the things necessary to build relationships – attending local workshops, lunch and learns and nearly every mixer in town – though I despised nearly every one of them – the events, not the people. This social media ‘thing’ was going to demand more time than I wanted to give, time mostly learning how to do it, and I was already building my tribe.
But social media promised that I could build my tribe beyond my local community. It appeared unavoidable in our new times so I got on board. I created profiles on all the major platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube), stayed consistent with my branding across and now had a presence. A presence was good and better than having none (I’m actually having a three year run with a collaborative business partner that started simply because I had a presence), but a presence is passive and no more effective than having a great business card that I only hand out if someone asks for it. Next step – I needed to actually engage with the people I was connecting with.
It was one thing to spend time figuring out how to create profiles, but the time it took to engage with my new contacts and stay on top of the latest posts (which included wading through a lot of unimportant and uninteresting crap) was way more than I was willing to give. I am a big fan of getting a return on investment of my time and energy, as I’m sure you are. But my big problem was – I didn’t have a strategy for engaging people, and coupled with the time element, I was at best intermittent in my frequency and inconsistent with my message – killers for any social media campaign – and my engagement on social media sucked!
And then I found the answer! I engaged a marketing company that could both strategize the campaign and maintain the strategy. I did go through a few different companies until I found the right one, and I have an incredibly gifted team today – a team that understands and believes in my mission and who I am.
Don’t make this same mistake! One of my missteps along the way was to believe that higher numbers meant bigger tribe, greater reach, more money – and there were all kinds of tricks to getting the numbers. We focused on building ‘followers’ and ‘likes’, ‘connections’ and ‘subscribers’. And the numbers went up, and up, and yet…I had no more engagement than when I started because I didn’t have believers. I had numbers, but not followers. And so after I fired that team, I did a begin-again.
Social media is important and a means for creating followers beyond your local community, but building your tribe is about weeding out those who don’t believe. It’s about pissing off and even violating the sensibilities of those who just don’t get you so they will leave. You want your followers to be your believers.
So, forget about the numbers and engage with your tribe. Get and be clear about who you are and what you stand for and believe in. Get great at what you do and create a movement. Your tribe will find you and decide to follow you because the tribe always chooses who leads them – regardless of the numbers.