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Brand Tribes: Communication

Building a loyal, engaged audience is critical to the long-term success of a nonprofit. We’ve discussed the benefits of starting small and focusing on your ‘truest fans.’ Once you find your people, it’s time to focus on growing and nurturing your tribe. And that starts with communication.

Tribes Thrive on Communication

Tribes form around shared interests and are strengthened by friendships and camaraderie. The easy flow of information and ideas, and the sharing of struggles and victories—is the lifeblood of brand tribes.

Fortunately, technology has made group communication so much easier. Whichever channels you use—social media, email, apps, online forums, texting, or others—it’s important to provide a way for members to communicate with one another and with you.

360-Degree Communication

Communication within tribes flows in four directions—leader to member, members to leader, member to member, and member to outsider. It’s important to think about how you can facilitate communication in each direction.

  • Leader to Member: For most organizations, this is where social media plays a central role. Other channels could be webinars, videos, newsletters, online member forums, direct mail, and blogs.

  • Member to Leader: As your focus shifts from marketing to meaning, it becomes critical to gather input and ideas from your tribe. Again, social media and email are useful here. Webinars, surveys and townhall-style virtual meetings are also great.

  • Member to Member: Providing a way for members to communicate with one another is important for fostering a shared sense of mission. Make it easy for your truest fans to connect, share ideas, and collaborate.

  • Member to Outsider: This is key to future growth. While you’re focused on supporting and nurturing your tribe, remember to create ways for existing members to find and recruit new, like-minded people from outside the tribe.

By facilitating communication in each direction, you can help your tribe generate new ideas, form and deepen connections, and coalesce as a community.


Did you find this helpful? What challenges do you face in communicating with your audience? Let me know in the comments or email me at


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