Best Practice

Digital Tribes II: Community Culture

By Alison Aldridge-Saur,

This report is part of the Digital Tribes bundle.


About this report

This report, Digital Tribes II: Community Culture, is the second product of the Digital Vision project, an effort to help new thought leaders get their insight out into the digital marketing world.

Digital marketers have spent the better part of the last decade studying trends in media consumption, and many analysts have made comparisons of social media platform users to tribes. Phrases like “neo-tribe” and “digital tribes” have, in some corners, become popular descriptions of the individuals who have banded together in groups and built communities around communications software. 

But, what is a tribe? How do they work? And what can digital marketers learn from studying them? 

Digital Vision grant winner Allison Aldridge-Saur argues that three distinct elements are necessary for a tribe to form: Language, Culture, and Organization. Each of these “Tribal Pillars” will be explored at length separately over the next few months in a series of three reports.

The first report, Digital Tribes I: Naming, explored the topic of how names are vital to the identity of online communities, and examined the construction of private languages, jargon, symbols, and naming practices for communities, individuals and events.

This second report, Digital Tribes II: Community Culture, uses the template of Native American tribal practices to highlight techniques that marketers can use to strengthen communities. This report discusses the vital differences between audience and community building, and provides examples about how the latter has historically been accomplished within Native American tribes. Saur then expands this analysis to look at the tools companies can use to accomplish similar tasks. This includes an overview on:

  • The construction of a shared narrative, beliefs and value systems.
  • The reinforcement of those narratives and value systems through ritual and repetition.
  • How to strategically manage those systems and actions for maximum effect.

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
    1. About Econsultancy
    2. About the author
  2. Community Building v. Audience Building
  3. Community Culture
    1. Theme 1: Shared Narrative
    2. Theme 2: Shared Beliefs or Value System
    3. Theme 3: Rituals or repetitive behavior
      1. The Daily Clock In
      2. An odd SxSW Ritual
      3. Gamer Guilds
    4. Theme 4: Caring for, Guarding, Cultivating


  • Pdf Disabled Digital Tribes II: Community Culture (531 KB PDF)

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