The tribal nature
of groups

Posted 15.01.19

Giving your audience the space to play an active role in driving the brand narrative is hugely important.

Social media brings people who might be chalk and cheese in their everyday lives together to experience and share with people from across the world, and with whom we may only share this one common interest.

Social media is a shining modern example of the tribal nature of groups. Just look at the conversations that take place on Twitter after an episode of Love Island or big sporting event.

It is human-nature to form into groups and make connections based on shared experience, or understanding. But what makes a group a tribe?

A group of people only need two things to become a tribe; firstly, a shared interest, secondly a way to communicate.

We therefore need to consider the single element of any communication that gets to the shared interest of the group. What motivates that interest and how can we as marketers utilise this shared interest.

Finding a way to create meaning or value from a groups shared interest is something we do everyday at Wilderness Agency. We take a fan-first approach to building online communities for some of the world’s biggest entertainment brands. Thinking like a fan helps our team create an emotional connection with the audience and it’s this emotion that is often key to the success of our work.

People’s interest is shared through emotional and connecting emotionally with others makes us feel part of a group. Following the dramatic penalty shoot-out victory for England in the World Cup against Columbia, Twitter conversation exploded. Fans interest was to show their pride (and somewhat amazement) at England’s win and a sense of collective celebration was what motivated people to share, just look at the reactions of former England striker Ian Wright, TV celebrity Paddy McGuinness and crowds of England fans. Sharing our experiences instantly with people from across the world, and with whom we may only share this one common interest is such a truly empowering experience.


Brands need to find a way to curate stories their audience want to play an active role in sharing. Nike’s vice-president of global football brand marketing Jesse Stollak is all too aware of this. He recently told Fast Company of the brands “consumer direct offense” approach having “noticed how teen media consumption had shifted to time spent on Instagram, SnapChat, Whatsapp, and YouTube versus traditional broadcast” adding it is now “increasingly difficult to create a single, one-size-fits-all piece of content”.

Nike are now laser-focused on becoming “more specific in the story related to consumer interests and channel” meaning they create a variety of content for audiences based on their shared interests and the channels they use to communicate this interest, meaning they are now “more relevant and thus more effective” as evidence in their long-form documentary on the Nigerian Football squad, This is Naija.    

As marketeers we also need to be mindful of the way groups communicate, ensuring we are on the right channels and our content is optimised and relevant.

This is becoming increasingly important in a fragmented online world and as audiences become more conscious of the effects technology is having on their lives, and that time spend online may not always be time well spent.

Brands must respond as responsible online citizens and ensure we allow groups to communicate freely whilst also being mindful of the negative effects of online experiences. At Wilderness Agency we often say…

Smart brands join a conversation but smarter brands curate a conversation their fans actively join.

– Jesse Stollak

Giving your audience the space to play an active role in driving the brand narrative is hugely important and we believe the brands that win both now and in the future are those that weave their audience into the conversation, be it through prompting social sharing and stories, encourage participation, and stimulating conversation through a sense of adventure or serendipity.

Get in touch to hear more about how to curate a conversation your fans actively join.

Tom Jarvis, Founder & Managing Director – Wilderness Agency

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