The Business Implications of Tribal Aggregation

by Jay Deragon on 09/26/2012


Tribes are influenced by purpose, not money, not power, but by common cultural attributes that creates a passion to fulfill a purpose. 

A culture is created by people and the environment. People are gathering in “cultural tribes” to connect, collaborate, discover and influence change.  Social technology enables  people to aggregate around anything, everything and anywhere.

Chasing Tribes

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

From online interactions, collaborations and co-creations people, inside and out, are recognizing the malady of corporate cultures. Corporate cultures do not recognize the “connectivity” people have with the cultural attributes of the human network.

Tribal Hubs and Spokes

Tribal behavior creates a “hub and spoke” of connections, influence and communications. 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 “hubs” in which we communicate, collaborate and co-create.

Tribal communities of purpose willingly share common goals with individuals and other tribes that identify with the philosophical bonds that unites people.  Tribes stand for meaningful issues of importance to the human network.

Tribes are creating five new dynamics that will change the way markets behave. These are:

  1. The tribes control the message with growing influence over markets. If your business cannot relate to the message then you are considered an outsider.
  2. Tribes have a purpose. Help them fulfill their purpose and just maybe you can be a member of their tribe. Understand the purpose and you’ll understand the 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. Marketing, in the traditional sense, carries no influence.
  4. Tribes do not need management they need tools to accomplish their objectives. Tribes are and always will be self managed
  5. Tribal leaders are dedicated to serving tribe members and the common purpose 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.

The implications are obvious to those who understand tribal behavior. Disastrous for those that don’t.

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