5 Things About Aggregation of Tribes

by Jay Deragon on 04/07/2011

People are gathering in “tribes” to connect, collaborate, discover and influence change.  Social technology provides  people the ability aggregate around anything, everything and anywhere. The markets sees this and attempts to aggregate people into self serving tribes but people have a different purpose and their own tribe.

The aggregation of tribes has become the pursuit of the market. Pulling people into fan pages, groups and custom networks has become a common practice of the marketplace. The problem is managing these tribes with a purpose is different than simply gathering tribes through the tricks of the trade.

Seth Godin writes: Tribe management is a whole different way of looking at the world.

It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn’t an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.

It adds to that the fact that what people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about.

Tribal Hubs and Spokes

Tribal behavior creates a “hub and spoke” of connections. Each of us have our “hub” which represents a gathering of friends, family, business associates and extended relations. We reach out to others via “spokes” and we pull others to us via use of distribution “spokes” in which we propagate content. The hub-and-spoke distribution paradigm is a system of connections arranged like a chariot wheel, in which all conversational traffic moves along spokes connected to the hub at the center. There are million of tribal hubs formed virtually and each hub is centric to interest, causes, objectives and opportunities. The evolving dynamics of tribal aggregation are illustrating five new dynamics that will change the way markets interact with tribes. These are:

  1. The tribes control the message with growing influence over markets
  2. Tribes have a purpose. Help them fulfill their purpose and just maybe you can be a member of their tribe
  3. Companies will have to learn that they are not the “connection” to the marketplace rather tribes, internal and external, hold the keys to tribal influence
  4. Tribes do need management they need tools to accomplish their objectives. Tribes are and always will be self managed
  5. Tribal leaders are more interested in serving tribe members than themselves.

The irony of today’s social dynamics is that brands and large networks think and behave like they are the “hub” and “tribes” are the “spokes”. The reality is that as technology progresses tribes are becoming the “hub” and the marketplace, the networks and every organization trying to aggregate us for their purpose are becoming the spoke.

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