“Good influencers accomplish stuff. Great influencers help their followers do it too.”

If there’s a thought that separates “fans” from a “tribe”, it’s this one.

Today, marketing is not just about promoting yourself and your efforts. It’s also about how impactful your efforts are towards helping those who follow you. Moreover, how much of a say they have in the way you go about your business.

Building a business is no longer a one-way street. Your profits are now directly proportional to your followers’ goals. When they achieve, you achieve.

And, we all know what happens then – you’ve unlocked the door to lifelong brand loyalty.

That’s the power of building a tribe. When a group of like-minded people come together, build a community, and achieve great things together.

As a leader and a coach of that tribe, you become an idol and a friend to your people. The one person they look up to, and would go to great lengths to support.

But, we know that getting a band of people inspired by your work or journey is easier said than done. It ain’t a cakewalk to just find a set of individuals who strongly relate with you and what you stand for. People who genuinely care about your opinions on a specific topic – personal, social, or even political.

So, how do you go about it? What are the first steps?

You see, building a social media tribe is about something very deep-rooted in our emotions than just the follower count. The feeling of being connected with your audience.

When it comes to having a great tribe, there aren’t many influencers who do it better than Cole Sprouse. Here’s his gram: 

Apart from being loved for his work over the years, Cole has a really phenomenal presence on Instagram. People have started using his name to even sell his biographies:

Cole enjoys a community that is constant in adoring him and his photos over social media (he has no other handles apart from Instagram). People fending off haters for him without expecting anything in return. People who wait for him to post a story every day. People who – wait for it – LOVE HIS VIBE.

Who wouldn’t love to have such a tribe of loyal fans?

Let’s look at another example – Vishnu Kaushal (@thevishnukaushal on IG). 

Like many influencers out there, Vishnu broke the Instagram algorithm (smashed it) in 2020 with his witty, funny, uniquely real, and incredibly relatable content during the Covid lockdown.

Apart from the fact that Vishnu grew his following from a few 100s in early 2020 to more than half a million while writing this post – he’s built a tribe that is absolutely nuts!

In fact, he even shares the memes that people make for him – and always tags the creators (recognition + motivation for others).

Apart from creating viral content, which he’s really good at, Vishnu has done a peach-y (context to be followed) job at getting people to be a part of his tribe!

In the wake of new internet slangs cropping up every now and then, notice how you’re no longer just a “fan” of people? Depending upon the influencer you follow, you’re now referred to as their “stan”. For example:

Fans of Justin Bieber are called “Beliebers“.

Fans of Beyonce go by “BHive“.

Fans of the legendary football club Manchester United are called “The Red Devils“.

If that’s not the makings of a tribe, what is?

On the same lines, Vishnu would use the word “peach” for anything that he appreciates. A follower who sent something nice or anything that classifies as a “beaut”.

Soon enough, peach as a word became something that he and his loyal followers felt attached to. Vishnu started calling his followers “The Peach Gang.” The morning story would go, “Good Morning my Peaches” (cheerful tone!). 

As the term peach kept resonating with his audience, he went on to launch a whole brand called @peachbyvishnu. WHA?

If Vishnu can launch a brand out of his tribe and get sales that dwarf his supplies, imagine what you can do with your own tribe. 

So, let’s discover how you can build your own tribe of followers that will come anywhere you want to take them. Who knows, maybe, it is this tribe that opens doors to new opportunities in your business?

1. Don’t be afraid to show parts of your personal life

It’s very important for people to know all about you to really feel connected with you, let alone feel inspired. 

If you’ve had the chance to read any of the hundreds of marketing or branding related books out there, you would have read about the importance of making your audience relate to your personal journey. How do you go about it, then? 

Well, it certainly isn’t about tooting your own horn.

The audience these days is much smarter than that. They know better to believe a story that is all about the ups and no downs or challenges. 

People are always looking for something that is real. Something that reflects their own lives.

Not only this, it helps you to stand out from the crowd. All of us have completely different lives with unique set of challenges. Why bother hiding them in the name of looking perfect? That’s just a bad strategy. And a fake one at that. Who wants fake? 

To explain this better, here’s just the right example: @notyourfathersbroker on Instagram.

A guy that’s experienced working in a serious field runs this finmeme account that caters to people working in or looking to join a big bank and make a career in finance.

He started off as a simple meme account to give a funny take on all those “finance guys” and the rampant nepotism taking place in investment banking as MDs get very sought after jobs for their sons who aren’t as qualified.

The person who runs this page has been largely anonymous so far. However, he’s shared a lot about his journey as a recovering alcoholic and the battles with mental issues.

Being a finmeme account, this was probably the biggest reason why his audience has been so engaging. Here’s one QnA he did as a “1 Year Sober AMA”. 

Imagine the courage it would have taken to share it all with his audience.

This detailed personal story has nothing to do with his account or what he does in general. The sole purpose of this AMA was to bring his followers closer to him and tell them about “the funny finance guy”.

Where influencers are sharing curated stories of all things pretty, AMAs and personal stories like these make you more relatable, and build a deeper connection with your audience. So, don’t be shy; share parts of your personal life, as long as they serve a wider purpose for your audience.

Pro Tip: There is obviously a balance needed when it comes to showing parts of your personal life. It’s completely okay to respect your personal space. Also, it shouldn’t be all problems that you share with them. People haven’t stopped loving the good-ol’ comeback stories. Give them some.

2. Regular interaction with 2-way communication

Gone are the days when you could just add some posts and wait for the audience to interact with it on their own. Today, the internet gods are very, very cruel to creators like those. 

The audiences have time and again proven that they’ve got no time for timid, and definitely no tolerance for reactive. You’ve got to stay ahead of the curve. 

A cricket podcast, The Grade Cricketer, known for the unreal jokes and get-outta-here remarks about cricket is a prime example of how regular interaction with the audience can do wonders for you. 

In a world of boring analysis shows and match reports about a sport that itself is not the most exciting ones going around, TGC breathes some life into the overall experience for following cricket for their audience. This explained the significant rise in the number of paid subscribers to their show on Patreon – almost 2k in September 2021 from 150 in December 2020. 

Here, look at some of the comments by their listeners:

Definitely looks like people wait for their videos to come out. In fact, we can confirm a lot of cricket fans who don’t follow the whole day of cricket (well, the game goes on for 5 days. Can’t blame those poor souls now, can we?) are still waiting for their shows to come out. 

Well, guess what? That is not the funniest or engaging part about their podcast. It’s the #AskTGC segment that they do every week. 

#AskTGC is a one of its kind QnA session where the audience sends their questions wrapped inside stories, most of which deserve a show of their own. As a matter of fact, this is one of the main offerings in their paid Patreon subscription. Here’s how they encourage their viewers to become patrons by giving them a chance to engage 1-1 with them: 

Pro tip: Be sure to interact with your audience at regular intervals. It can be a simple poll about content that they’d like to see next. It can also be an AMA session where you answer questions sent in by your tribe members. This will instill a sense of belonging in your audience. 

As we all know, there’s no leaving once you feel connected is there?

3. Reward their success publicly – through features, collabs, freebies

Everyone loves a wee bit of recognition, don’t they?

Since you are looking to connect more with your audience, what’s better than recognizing their time in hearing you out and consuming your content?

As you’re probably aware, humans have long left the industrial economy. We’re living in a connection economy now. You’ve got to factor this in.

Now, we get it. That is not an easy task. Getting strangers to connect with you and feel strongly attached to your brand and identity. 

Exactly the point here – acknowledge their efforts and goodwill. Rest will follow!

Let’s look at the easiest way to do so – Giveaways!

What you do here is run a contest that essentially rewards the most loyal members of your beloved audience. So, the first thing that it does is reward your tribe members. 

Second, it invites other followers to your close-knit group as well. Not only this, you can run those giveaways as a collaboration with brands as well. Here’s an example for you: 

These giveaways will not matter much to your budgets, in fact, you get paid for all of it. To your tribe members, though, they’ll mean the world.

Now, we get it. Not everyone can get a brand to collab with them so they can reward their peaches. Especially when you’re just beginning your journey.

Does that mean you’ve got to wait for that seemingly distant brand collab? 

Nope. Absolutely not.

There’s another way you can go about this – collaborating with your tribe members. 

So what if you can’t get ‘em free goodies or merch? You can still recognize their efforts. Just collab directly with them. 

One such example is finance freelancer @shreyaakapoor_ on Instagram. 

Being the phenomenal creator she is, ex-Bain Shreyaa absolutely rocked the IG algorithm to reach 50k followers within 2 months.

Shreyaa talks about freelancing, personal finance, and the most complex of it all – investing. 

One of the segments she has, called “Book of the Month”, is a monthly Instagram Live with one of her audience members where they discuss a book (normally on personal finance).

The said book is decided upon by her and the audience members at the beginning of every month, followed by a 20-25 day window for her audience members to read the book and get a chance to feature in the discussion towards the end of the month.

These Instagram Lives are then shared by her as IGTV videos. Those lives invariably get upwards of 10k viewers every single month. 

It’s not just about the sheer numbers, though.

Imagine how engaged those audience members are. They feel heard. They feel valued.

The end result of it all? They’re going to stick with the creator for the long haul.

4. Meet your local fans/followers whenever possible

You know how influencers give their wide-eyed, star-struck followers/fans a chance to meet them once in a while? That’s a damn good strategy right there.

Steal it! 

Doesn’t have to be one-one-one, of course (we get it, you might not have that kind of time), but casual meet-and-greets every now and then shouldn’t be too big of a deal. 

Take inspiration from these guys – The Nerdy Academy. This online tuition institute from Bhopal that is frankly… crushing it!

Work anniversaries, birthdays, workshops, green initiatives — you name it, the Nerdy Academy doesn’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to engaging with the local community.

They’ve hosted Christmas celebrations with students, planted trees, organized ramp walks, and much more. Talk about making the audience feel inclusive!

Meetups are never a bad idea, because that’s how you show your fans that you truly care about their goals. To get started, simply do the following:

  • Pick a city you’d like to organize the meetup in
  • Shoot email blasts to your audience
  • Set up a Facebook event
  • Post about it on all social media channels
  • Invite everyone

That venue isn’t gonna pack itself!

Note though; don’t bother inviting people from all over the country. Just round up the local people, some superfans, teammates, a bunch of your friends and family, and set up a fun-filled meet-up at a nearby restaurant, club, or whatever. 

If you still insist, you might go all-out and throw a gala event to get people talking. Word-of-mouth publicity FTW!

Whatever you do, be memorable. And don’t forget to post all about it on your social media.

Pro Tip: Send your attendees a “Thank You” note after. Perhaps, some freebies too. Maybe an ebook, a free-of-cost consultation, a subscription, or some branded swag. Appreciate the hell out of those who attend, and have them post stories on their own social media too.

5. Show your support for a cause that matters

Last but definitely not the least important of all – connect with your audience at a deeper level by taking a stand. By supporting a cause that you feel strongly about. 

Above anything else, it’s about doing the right thing. If you do it right, the social brownie points will invariably follow. 

No, we’re not suggesting you to just talk about it and take no action. In fact, that’ll do more harm than good. Nobody likes a superficial leader.

Another great reason why you should totally be up for it is the rise of cause marketing by brands. This is a direct result of consumer’s and hence the audience’s preference of choosing a brand or individual. It’s not just about your lifestyle, it’s about who you are. 

Today, more than 87% consumers have admitted to preferring a brand that supports or speaks about a cause that they care about. 

In India, the second Covid wave in April 2021 was probably one of the biggest humanitarian crises in recent decades. Truly a time when society needed to stick it out. 

A lot of influencers were seen amplifying various SOS calls in this period. Others arranged food and supplies for those who needed it. Here’s a few of those tweets:

Given the nature of Covid, it’s hard to even help people out as people can’t afford to spread it more by coming in close proximity to each other. 

These influencers paved the way for the regular citizens to help out their friends and family as well. Audience activation in the truest sense.

It doesn’t just stop at Covid. You get to see these kind-hearted influencers all the time. Whether it’s a power outage in a local area or an imminent disaster threat in a city – they’re always out there spreading awareness and helping people out.

The point being, attach yourself to a cause, and urge your followers and fans to join in. Whether it’s a cleanliness drive, a blood donation drive, or a recycling mission in your area.

Influencers who keep a cause close to their heart gain unbelievable brownie points in their followers’ eyes. Needless to say, you not only earn their respect, but also ensure that they sing songs about you to others as well.

Building a tribe of your own is a gradual process. But, as long as you have the basics in mind from the get-go, you know it’s only a matter of time before your followers turn into your advocates. So, go on, get cracking – rethink your social media positioning and refine your strategy accordingly.