Building Communities and Tribes as a Marketing Strategy & Dealing with Trouble Makers

Community & Tribe Building as a Marketing Strategy


When you build a community connection with people around a common theme (hobby, purpose, geographical location, etc) it connects people.  People are attracted because of that commonality. 


However, you will also attract people with different perspectives, ones that do not match your own.  What do, or should you do when you are "in charge" of "leading" the community and someone has a dissenting voice? 


Many people chose to shut out those who are "trouble makers", why would you want to keep "negative" "critical" people in your community? 


Here's why:  When you don't include these people, you alienate them, and you send a clear message out to others, if they don't agree with you, they aren't welcome either.  

That's a good thing, though isn't it?  Well, it will certainly make people fearful of expressing themselves, their concerns, so it will help minimise "negative" feedback.   It will also encourage those who are not #likeminded to leave the community. 


And here's what happens...


The community becomes splintered, those who have been hurt, excluded, isolated then start their own communities, they become "competition".   They become even more determined to show others your short comings, because they have nothing to lose; and they have proof of your wrong doing because you've isolated them from their community. 


To sum up- if you "create" or "lead" a community, it doesn't belong to you, it's not down to your personal preferences to exclude/or include people, the community has a life of its own.  You are responsible for serving that community, and all of the people in it.  Including facilitating discussions which may include conflict. 


If you're not capable of mediating conflict, allowing, and encouraging different view points and open discussion, then what you have is a dictatorship, not a community. 

And, what's more than that as a leader you need to nuture those outspoken people; they are the leaders within the community, you need to encourage them to lead other members of the community because one person alone cannot build a community, it takes connected leaders within the community to help it thrive and grow. 

As a leader you need to learn how to include these individuals, giving them the freedom they need to be the individuals they are.  When you show that you are not threatened by others (even when they have differing opinions) you show to members of your community that you are strong, and that they do not have to fear that if they do something you don't approve of, that they too may be excluded from their community. 


We all have a desire/need to "belong" to something, and there is a strong psychological driving factor that will encourage us to exclude those who aren't "In" with us, it's how societies, tribes are built.  We know who is "them" and who is "us", who we can trust, and who we cannot. 


Except that it doesn't really work like that, collaborating with those who have different perspectives enriches our communities, enriches individual lives.  This is why racism doesn't really work very well for anyone.  It has a negative affect on those who experience it being directed at themselves, and it prevents communities from benefiting from diverse cultural richness. 


If you want to spread your business message to a large number of people, using a community or tribal model, think twice about creating enemies, doing so (besides being horrid to the people you're excluding) will only make it harder for you to achieve your goals. 

Communities do need strong leaders, leaders who have a clear vision and who can provide clear boundaries and guidelines of what's expected of individuals when they "belong" to the community; psychologists call these "social norms" of the group/community. 

However, you have a choice, being a strong leader does not necessarily being a dictator, if you don't allow room for discussion and "disent" you stifle change and growth, and the bonding and connection between individual members.   Besides which, if someone is stepping over the mark these norms will usually be informed by members of the community itself.  Social norms are usually enforced through individuals voicing their own dislike of behaviour that is not within the "norm".


Discussions of differing opinions also provide opportunity for new ideas to be created to solve the conflict.  If you don't allow this natural process of a community then a dictator you will become. 

It's your choice, either you are a servant of the community, responsible for nourishing & supporting its growth, or you can choose to exclude anyone who doesn't feed your ego and support every thing that you do (dictatorship). 


In your community, are you building bridges to connect people? (From outside the community, to bring them in) Are you building bridges between individuals within the community?  Connecting members of the community, so that each person is able to feel the support and nurturing of a positive community?(Regardless of what the specific common bond happens to be). 

Bridges are open, and people can leave if they wish, but to create a dynamic, positive community people should be given the freedom to make up their own minds.  Not to be pushed out of the community, or thrown outside of walls built to "protect" a community.  Walls disconnect, bridges connect and the nature of a healthy community is the dynamic connection between the individuals, not everyone agreeing all of the time. 


So, if you want to build a community as a marketing strategy understand that not everyone within the community will agree with you 100% of the time, and that's OK.  It's a natural and healthy aspect of a growing community.   That doesn't mean that you allow trolls (people who are rude & abusive to others), but it does mean that you are responsible for facilitating healthy robust debate where people are free to openly communicate any disagreement they may have with you and your perspective. 

When you do this, you show that you are strong, powerful and not threatened, and you get the opportunity to clearly communicate your point of view, deepening and strengthening the connection between you and your community. 


Have you had experience of building a community? Being excluded from a community? Excluding people from a community? I'd love to hear your views & experiences!

Claire Boyles
Claire Boyles



This blog post was written by Claire Boyles, Start Up Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media Strategist with Success Matters.  

You can work with Claire on how to improve your marketing (even on a shoe string budget), Claire helps people create profitable businesses models & marketing strategies, so you get to do what you love and earn an income from it!   

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