In this book, author Seth Godin reveals the most powerful unit of social organization: the “tribe,” or a group of people connected to a cause, a leader and each other, who together drive change in society. It shows us how we can harness the power of the internet to form and lead our own tribes. Tribes also advocates the universal need for change and leadership, so we can grow as a company or as a society.
For millions of years people have been part of tribes. Whether the groups are religious, ethnic or political, it seems we can’t help it: humans need to belong to a collective larger than themselves.
In fact, tribes are everywhere; and whether you know it or not, you also are a member of at least one of them – as an employee of your company, a member of your religious community or a fan of your favorite band.
But what actually is a tribe?
All tribes share three components: a group of people, a common cause and at least one leader who represents and organizes the tribe.
Take Wikipedia, for example. The vast majority of work for the website is performed by a group of about 5,000 contributors and editors. They all work together to realize the common cause of Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s cofounder: a vision of freely accessible, communally created information.
However, the most important feature here is the shared cause. A tribe’s shared cause leads its members to internalize the tribe’s values and ideas as their own. These internalized incentives make tribe members into driven believers instead of mere followers.
The cause of a tribe – either a yearning for or a resistance to change – can be anything from environmental justice, a political campaign or a group of Apple enthusiasts who believe in the superiority of their beloved consumer electronics.
Tribes have always been with us, but with today’s technology, the number of tribes is exploding.
This is mainly due to the internet: tribes used to be local, but now, with the reach of the internet – and especially social media – geography is no longer a barrier to tribal growth.
And thanks to social media, a tribe’s influence is no longer directly correlated to its size, but to the cause for which it stands, and how it uses communication technologies.
Because today, real sustainable growth derives from the people who truly love your cause, advocate your values – and beat the social media drum for you.