Best Practice

Digital Tribes III: Organization

By Allison Aldridge-Saur,

This report is part of the Digital Tribes bundle.


About this report

This report, Digital Tribes III: Organization, is the third product of the Digital Vision project, an effort to help new thought leaders broadcast their insight to digital marketers.

Digital marketers have spent the better part of the last decade studying trends in media consumption, with many analysts comparing users of social media to tribes. Phrases like “neo-tribe” and “digital tribes” have, in some corners, become popular descriptions of individuals who band together in groups and who build 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. She explores these “tribal pillars” at length in a series of three reports. The first, Digital Tribes I: Naming, reviews how names are vital to the identity of online communities and examines the construction of private languages, jargon, symbols, and naming practices for communities, individuals, and events. The second, Digital Tribes II: Community Culture, uses the template of Native American tribal practices to highlight techniques marketers can use to strengthen communities.

This third and final report focuses on organization or how online communities structure themselves and how they recognize leaders. It studies traditional Native American tribal practices to suggest how, once marketers have done the hard work of creating communities, they might ensure their longevity. It reviews:

  • Values that inform how modern digital tribes organize themselves,
  • Governing practices that sustain the long-term health of online communities, and
  • Methods for nudging online fans from engagement to loyalty

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
    1. Concentric Circles of Identity
  2. Two Primary Values of a Native American Tribal Model Applicable to Modern Digital Tribes
    1. Merit
    2. Consensus
  3. Traditional Native American Organizational Structures
    1. Various Governing Positions
    2. Governing Practices
    3. Permeability
  4. A Future Organizational Model for Big Brand Tribal Communities
  5. How to Move from Engaged Audience to Loyal Tribe
    1. Current Big Brand Example: Dell
    2. Current Big Brand Example: American Airlines
  6. Summary


  • Pdf Disabled Digital Vision III - Organization (508 KB PDF)

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