Step 1 - Find Your Why
It seems so obvious, and yet many people ignore the simple question, “Why do I want to build a tribe”?
You need to ask yourself why you're even trying to build an audience in the first place!
Is it because:
- You have a powerful message that you feel the world needs to hear.
- You simply want to connect with like-minded individuals around a particular topic.
- You have a particular skillset and want to help others achieve success.
- You want to grow your brand or service and reach new customers.
- You want to become an affiliate marketer and sell products to your tribe.
Or could it be something else entirely?! They key is that you figure out the “why”, or you'll lose sight of your goal along the way and your efforts could fail.
It's also vitally important that you are passionate about your niche, or at least become knowledgeable enough to understand what is important to your audience.
A person who
chases two rabbits
Step 2 - Focus
Now that you have your “why”… you need to stay focused on it! Call it the “shiny object syndrome” or whatever you wish, too many marketers get distracted from their goals.
If you want to build a tribe, then you need to focus on building your tribe!
If your goal is for instance; to build an audience of passionate email marketers, and then sell them email marketing courses and software… then that is your focus, and only focus.
Don't get distracted trying to do something you never set out to do in the first place. If you wander off and start building a Shopify store, but had no intention of doing that (and it wasn't part of your “why”), then STOP!
Your tribe will need your full attention, especially at the beginning when you have very few members. You also have little hope of building a truly successful tribe if you aren't focused. Your tribe will instantly see what your focus is, and either not be interested (which is ok), or latch on and join the ride!
Step 3 - Create a Home
The next step is to determine where you want your tribe to live?!
- A Facebook Page
- A Facebook Group
- A Membership Site
- A Website Blog with Forum
There are a few other options as well, but these are the most popular. Some people ask if they can build a tribe on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. While those are all great tools to spread your message and engage with people, the type of engagement is very limited.
A true tribe needs a place to keep coming back to, where they can join in the conversation easily, and also gain knowledge in different ways. I don't consider Instagram followers to be “tribe” members because they are fleeting and don't consistently engage unless you have a larger brand or are an influencer.
So for our tribe building, we'll stick to the primary three options listed above!
Now is the time to go create your home. I don't recommend spreading yourself too thin and trying to create a website forum and a Facebook page or group. I would pick one or the other.
Oh, and if you're not familiar with Facebook groups, you will have to create a Facebook page in order to first create your Group. I know, it's confusing… The nice part is, you can simply use your Facebook page to drive people to join your Facebook group!
So get out there and create a home for your tribe!
Step 4 - Content, Content, Content
It might seem fairly obvious, but if you start inviting people over to your empty home, they'll probably quickly see there's nothing to do and leave! So in order to make people feel welcome and like they are joining an awesome group of people (your tribe), you need to provide them with content.
If you want to create a thriving forum on your website, then your blog needs great content that people can read, share and talk about. The same goes for a membership site. If you want to create a Facebook group that keeps people engaged and coming back, then again, you need to provide them with various forms of content right off the bat.
As a general rule, you should have enough content to keep a new visitor occupied for at least one hour.
When starting a blog with a forum, we like to have at least 12 blog posts of 500 words or more in place before driving visitors there. Ideally you have even more, especially if your posts are on the short side.
For Facebook groups (and even pages), you should have at least 15-20 photos, videos, or long-form value-packed posts before driving visitors. Remember, you want to have enough content to keep someone busy for a full hour!
Lastly, when creating your content always go back to your “why” and stay focused on what you're trying to achieve! If you want to grow a tribe of golden retriever puppy lovers, don't post a blog article about training a bulldog! I'm sure you get the idea. 😉
Step 5 - Find Your Tribe
Ok, so you have your “why”, a home for your tribe, and content to keep them occupied. So now you need to go find your tribe members!
This all starts with creating at least a basic avatar of what your ideal tribe member looks like.
Write down things like:
- What gender are they (or both)?
- What age(s) are they?
- What websites do they visit?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- What other interest might they have?
One big mistake people make when starting to build their tribe is assuming too much about them! I once helped a company build a new audience and they insisted we should be using Instagram. Well, it didn't take much research on my part to discover that the bulk of their ideal audience used Twitter and Facebook! If we had followed their assumption, it could have cost us a lot of time and money.
This is also where you might want to utilize social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora, etc. YouTube is also a GREAT platform for driving traffic, but it obviously requires creating videos. While these aren't great homes for your tribe, they are places you can find them and drive them to the home you created!
They key is to simply identify where your tribe hangs out currently and meet them there.
Step 6 - Grow Your Tribe
You have everything ready for your new tribe, so now you just have to get them to join in! There are countless ways that you can do this, some paid, some free.
Here is a list of free tactics you can use:
- Use the cover image on your personal Facebook page to advertise your new page, group, blog, etc.
- Ask your friends and family to join, and ask them to share it with friends that would be interested in your topic.
- When setting up your social media profiles (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc), make sure the description contains a link to your page, group, or blog.
- Actively engage with people that like and comment on your social media posts. Directly invite repeat commenters to join your tribe.
- Join similar groups on Facebook and provide valuable feedback, answer questions, and just be helpful overall. Do NOT promote your tribe link unless you are permitted to do so. Many people will click through to your Facebook profile and see your link!
- Answer questions on Reddit and Quora about your topic. Again, make sure your profile description / bio contains a link to your tribe.
- If you are an expert in a certain topic, contact relevant websites and ask if you can guest-post or be a podcast guest if they have one. Most of the time they will permit you to post a bio with a link to your site in exchange.
- Post daily videos on YouTube that answer questions about your topic, or simply provide value. You can record videos on your phone, they don't have to be “professional” quality!
- Once you get a few visitors to your Facebook page, KEEP POSTING! Post images, videos, questions, and do Facebook Live videos as well. Even if nobody watches live, it is still content that gets posted!
Here are a few paid tactics you can use as well:
- Create an ad campaign on Facebook for page likes and run ads for $5-$10 per day. Choose interests in your targeting that align with your niche.
- Create an ad campaign on Facebook directly to your website blog posts. This can often get you very cheap clicks (and traffic!) if you find blog posts that resonate with your target audience.
- Create YouTube ads that drive people to your page, group, blog, or into your full YouTube channel.
One component that most people ignore when using paid traffic sources is retargeting / remarketing! It has been said that often people need to see your message up to 7 or more times before they click through. Retargeting is not expensive unless you have massive amounts of traffic, so don't be afraid of it!
The ultimate trick to growing your tribe is CONSISTENCY! It may take a long time to push the proverbial boulder up the hill, but once you get some members into your tribe it will grow faster-and-faster!
Step 7 - Listen and Engage
One of the biggest reasons people leave a tribe is if they no longer feel wanted, or if the group goes in a direction they didn't expect. The funny thing is, most people will tell you before this happens!
Here are some keys to keeping your tribe happy:
- Listen and quickly respond to any questions or comments, no matter how “insignificant” you may feel they are.
- Keep a pulse on your entire tribe and often times they will tell you if they want to go in a certain direction, if they want to learn about something in particular, etc.
- ASK THEM! Simply ask your tribe what problems they are having or what they need help with, then provide them with the solution!
That last point is interesting because it quite possibly can go against the “focus” that we talked about earlier. This has happened in a couple of my groups in the past, where I started it for one reason, but my members wanted something else altogether down the road. Just remember, that's ok! If you're willing to adapt and keep them engaged in the new direction, then go for it. You'll end up with a more fully engaged tribe. 😉
None of these are mind-blowing suggestions, but so many tribes fall apart simply because the leader didn't engage enough. Don't lose your focus on ads, blog posts, videos, etc and completely forget to just “be” with your tribe!
Step 8 - Lock Them In
I tried to think of a different title for this step because it sounds too much like you're going to keep someone prisoner. In reality, what I'm suggesting isn't too far off that analogy!
The best way to build a tribe long-term and keep them engaged, is to have the ability to contact them in multiple ways. If you have a group of people in your Facebook Group, membership area, or actively engaged in your blog forum, then that gives you one avenue for communicating with them.
There are two primary avenues for “locking in” your tribe and building more communication channels.
- Build an email list.
- Build a Facebook Messenger / chatbot subscriber list.
If the second option scares you, then don't worry about it. I always teach people to focus on building an email list first. As they say “the money is in the list”!
Building an email list is as simple as placing a signup form on your website, or asking your existing tribe members to join your list as well! Be prepared, however. You can't just let people sign up for your email list and let it sit there, dormant. Just like we did with the pre-populated content when building our tribe, you need to have a series of emails ready to go, or be prepared to manually email your list at least 1-2 times per week!
You can also create what's called a lead magnet, and offer something of value in exchange for their email address if you want. Many successful marketers use this tactic to build their tribes!
Lastly, once you've mastered building an email list, you can build a chatbot subscriber list as well. The disadvantages to doing this are the technical know-how required (although it's really not much), and the fact that it forces you into using Facebook Messenger's platform. The advantage is deliverability. In some of my email lists I get a 30-40% open rate, however my chatbot open rates are often 85-90%!
While that open rate can be tempting, I still wholeheartedly recommend starting with and focusing on building an email list!
Step 9 - Monetize
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when building a tribe is hitting people right off the bat with a sales pitch. I don't know about you, but when that happens to any group I join, I usually head for the door!
You need to make people feel genuinely welcomed and that you're going to provide them with tons of VALUE along the way. Only then can you introduce your products, services, courses, etc.
Also, when you do begin to sell anything to your tribe, tell them it's coming first! Let them know in advance that you have an awesome product or service that you'd like to promote, and that you know it can help them. It also goes without saying, but do NOT try to sell your tribe anything that isn't of the highest quality. It must be something you believe in as well, and can help your tribe members reach their goals.
As far as what to promote, here is a short list:
- Affiliate products (either physical or information).
- Your own info product, such as an eBook or guide.
- Your own physical eCommerce product.
- Your own membership site.
- 1-on-1 consulting with you in your area of expertise.
There are so many options, and you really just need to take the time to match your offer with what will HELP your tribe! Remember when we talked about listening earlier? If you first listen, then coming up with a product or service to promote to your tribe becomes easy.
Step 10 - Assess and Adapt
This is the point where you step back and take a bit of a breather (but not too much)!
Like most people, I get very busy at times and just keep moving from one task to the next, thinking about the next blog post, the next Instagram post, and so on. You really need to stop once in a while, and I suggest scheduling time to do this, and look at what has been working, and what's not working.
Look through your tribe's conversations. Are they leaning in a certain direction? Do you need to adapt and make a small (or large) shift to accommodate them? What questions are they asking? Do you need to create new content that addresses those questions?
Also look at the growth of your tribe. Are you happy with where things are at? Do you need to increase your tribe-building activities? Perhaps invest in some paid ads? Or maybe it's as simple as asking your existing tribe members to invite new members as well!
If you've begun to monetize your tribe, how has that been going? Have members reacted favorably to your promotions, or ignored them? If people aren't excited to buy what you're offering, then stop selling it and re-think what you're offering! Nobody likes being hit over the head with the same offer over-and-over again when they're not interested. 😉
Lastly, stop and create a plan for where you want to be in 1 month, 6 months, and a year or more out. How big do you want your tribe to be? At what point will you need to bring in extra help in the form of moderators (that you don't have to pay, by the way!), or virtual assistants to help with content promotion?
Once you have a plan, you need to stick to your guns and execute it! Building a loyal tribe can be a long process, but in the end it's one of the most rewarding things you can do as a marketer!
Have questions or want help regarding tribe building?
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