I AM TRIBAL
Most of you know I’m a huge Seth Godin fan. I have read everything he has ever written. One of my favorite books that Seth authored is called Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Amazing content. If you’re currently building a community or tribe…run out and get this book right now. Read it from cover to cover.
I like the word ‘tribe’. It’s raw. Organic. Visceral. And seems more relevant to how we call and classify our social, personal and professional groups.
A tribe isn’t about numbers. It’s about names. It’s not about crowds but community. It’s not about quantity but quality. It’s not about mass or multitudes. But content and connections. This is a great lesson for those of us active on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not about the size of our follower base. It’s about the substance of our follower base.
In most online communities, large or small, about 10% of a membership list is active. And even a smaller amount that contribute ongoing and repeat participation.
Crowds are groups of people with surface connections. Tribes are people with serious connections. Your job, as a photographer, is to build tribes, not crowds. Develop relationships, not just followers. And I’m not just talking about photographer-to-photographer tribes. But photographer-to-customer tribes as well. You need both.
Tribes, in their truest sense, are like families with shared interests, values, aspirations, and goals. Tribes, like families, look out for each other. When you invest in your tribe, as I do, you’re investing in viral marketing. Share the love. And the love will be shared with you.
Monetizing your tribe is a much more daunting and delicate task. The rules for how to do this are still being written. It can be done. But it takes Herculean salesmanship, showmanship and craftsmanship to successfully pull off. But don’t get ahead of yourself. The primary purpose of building a tribe is not to monetize. But to mentor, coach, consult, counsel, teach, tutor, and develop good will. Monetization is a distant second. And most assuredly will only happen once you have proven your expertise and worth to your tribe. Build your influence first. Then a return-on-investment second.
Throughout my three-decade career, I’ve never experienced a tribe life as I do on Twitter. I haven’t quite figured out what exactly makes this so magical and moving for me. But I know it’s real, strong, productive, and genuine. End of story. Twitter rules!
Like Seth suggests, tribes need more leaders. What about you? Anyone ready to step up to the plate and lead? I’m not talking about leadership-as-notoriety model. But leadership-as-shepherding model. Our photography industry has yet to see what change and revolution can be born out of strategic tribes and skillful leadership.
Let’s make a pact to help our tribes change the world. For good. Let’s make a difference. Let’s shake things up. Let’s create a brand new context for photography that history remembers us for. Let’s get tribal!!