The concept of the 21st century tribe is simple: There are about 2.5 billion people with regular Internet access. So no matter how bizarre your interests or offerings are, there are likely a few thousand people who are passionate about the same thing. The trick is finding them. Here are seven ways to do exactly that.
1. Start a G+ Community
A lot of social media experts are still calling Google+ a ghost town, but they're forgetting two important factors:
- Google is giving G+ heavyweight status in search results. Everything you do there counts double.
- G+ is the home of the early adopters—the most passionate and media-savvy people on the Web—and you want them in your camp.
A G+ community named to attract your tribe fosters conversation, trend sharing, even arguments, all of which add to your authority on the topic. Just make sure somebody's checking in several times a day to keep the conversation going.
2. Pick a Fight
Controversy sells. This is nothing new. What's new is how easy it is for an average business owner to stir some up, and how quickly that controversy can spread. Find a thought leader in your niche and disagree publicly. Don't just say "nyah-nyah." Disagree with a specific assertion, and refute it with intelligence and support. When your target engages to defend his opinions, keep at the debate for as long as it stays entertaining. With each round of reasoned disagreement, your tribe will see you talking about what they love ... and you sell.
3. Clone Your Best Customer
Every business owner has that one-in-a-million customer—you know the one who thinks you can do no wrong. Just remember that, on the Internet, if your fan is one in a million, then there could be 2,500 of them. Develop as precise a profile as you can of your superfan, and use it to find his dopplegangers throughout the Web. It's a good idea to solicit his help with this, since he's likely to know a few of them personally.
4. Go Beyond the Blog
Of course you have a blog. Your grandmother has a blog. Myanmar has a blog. It's as necessary to doing business this century as your electric bill was for the last hundred years. People still share blogs—but they share videos, podcasts and memes more. Find a way to produce reasonable quality examples of that kind of content and your tribe will come looking for you.
5. Stay Sharp
Nothing excites people interested in a niche like learning about the new and biggest thing to happen in that niche. (Just think about the explosion of speculation that hit when Disney simply started talking about the possibility of beginning to decide who would direct the next Star Wars installations.) And nothing disappoints a tribe like finding out their leaders know less than they do. If you want to keep your status in a niche, be the first one to the table with news as often as possible. This means doing your homework, but that's okay. Since this is your business, you're doing it anyway. Right?
6. Admit Your Mistakes
Niches can be tough. They make your customer base knowledgeable and passionate, which is murder on anybody who approaches the niche with less than total integrity. This doesn't mean you can't goof up. When you do, though, admit your mistake. Own it and take responsibility. Your tribe will like you all the more for your humanity, and praise you to even more of your friends.
7. Ask for Help
Tom Clancy once quipped, "Never ask a man what kind of computer he drives. If it's an Apple, he'll tell you." People with niche interests love talking about that niche. It's absolutely kosher to recruit your existing tribe members to go find you more tribe. In fact, if you've followed the other steps in this article, they'll do it on their own.
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Jason has contributed over 2,000 blog and magazine articles to publications local, regional and national. He speaks regularly at writing and business conferences.