The Modern-day Tribe: What Is It & Does Your Brand Have One?

The Modern-day Tribe: What Is It & Does Your Brand Have One?
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In this guest piece, RadiumOne’s Jodie Koning (pictured below) discusses the importance of brand tribalism and how marketers can grow and engage their very own tribe.

Jodie Koning

The concept of a tribe can seem somewhat archaic. Images are conjured up of Indigenous communities with varying dialects, groups of viking warriors transcending mountain ranges or religious congregations at the end of a long winding pilgrimage.

However, in recent years there has been a resurgence behind the notion of a tribe and a craving from individuals to not only find their place within a common interest group, but actively cultivate their own tribal connections, both offline and across the digital ecosystem. For the purposes of this tribal exploration, we’ll focus on digital tribalism.

Whether it is health and fitness devotees, new mothers or sports fanatics, in our digitally driven world that often encourages narcissism, disconnection and a lack of authenticity, the deep-seeded need to connect with others through a genuine common interest has become more powerful than ever before.

With the removal of geographical, periodic and monetary barriers, the internet has opened the door for high-level consumer engagement – brand tribalism – far beyond the walls of a sporting stadium, or the treadmills of a gym. And with this shift from physical to online, brands are missing out on a big opportunity to drive next-level emotional connections with relevant audiences.

Football club FC Barcelona has over 300 million social media fans globally, yet only 55 million of these come from Europe, and even less from Spain. So, how can a brand such as this embrace these online advocates or ‘tribal participants’ and be a part of their more often ‘hidden’ conversations – to move from the sidelines to the centre of the pitch?

Many clues can be found in the dark. In Australia, it is surprising to learn that the bulk of sporting conversations and content sharing is not across traditional public social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. In fact, 88 per cent of this tribal engagement from sport fanatics is occurring across dark social channels, such as email, text and instant messaging platforms.

So, how do you become a valuable part of these conversations to grow and engage your own tribe?

When consumers share website links, articles from blogs or repost pieces of content, they are showing strong signs of engagement and advocacy – signals that can’t be ignored. Dark social sharing is one of the most valuable sources of customer insights because it represents intimate interests of both the sharer and the people they’re sharing with – often friends, family and colleagues. There is less of a filter on this information because the message is only being shared with a closed, trusted network, not exposed on a public forum open to attack from keyboard warriors.

Historically, these interactions have been blind to brands, happening in closed ecosystems and near-impossible for marketers to leverage. Fortunately, this is no longer the case.

The good news is that companies such as RadiumOne have developed software that captures these important signals, allowing brands to connect with these audiences across their paid, earned, shared and owned channels.

The rewards, once the tribal plumbing is in place, can be huge – both in terms of consumer insights and enabling your brand to be present in the tribal conversation. It’s been proven that tracking dark social sharing behaviour can help marketers lift important engagement metrics, measure levels of interest and intent and understand where consumers are on the purchasing journey and/or loyalty loop. We also know that tribe members who share content relevant to your product or service are nine times more likely to convert than non-sharers.*

Consequently, if you’re a marketer ignoring dark social tribalism, you’re not maximising your brand’s tribal opportunity. You’re in the dark. So, what tribes are you talking to? And what is your war cry?

Jodie Koning from RadiumOne will feature as a speaker at this year’s Ministry of Sports Marketing event on Tuesday 18 July in Sydney.

*Source: RadiumOne AU sharing-based conversion report Q4, 2016

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