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Remember when coworkers would gather around the office watercooler to discuss the latest episode of Seinfeld, The Office or last week's controversial exposé on 60 Minutes? Think about it. When was the last time you had any conversation — around the watercooler, coffee pot or elsewhere — with your coworkers about something other than the election or what's trending online?

It's probably been awhile.

Shows like Friends, ER and Survivor provided some of the last times that we all had the same experience at the same exact time — at least when it comes to mass media and entertainment. Instead, broad cultural events like elections, internet memes and trending videos have become the talk of the day.

Even though there are less shared experiences than ever before, the longing for connection remains. People still seek to have shared experiences with each other; however, it might look different in today's context because our strongest passions don't always correspond with our neighbors'.

Ironically, the internet can become the sole source of finding connection when sharing a passion point (e.g., favorite sub-Reddit or favorite organic hot sauce recipe) — because finding people in the real world to share your excitement with can be hard. We all have interests that we look for others to have, understand or appreciate, and thus our interests become the centerpiece to connection and communities.

Finding a tribe

With a little effort, we can connect with a vast number of others who share our same interests, no matter how niche. We can become part of a tribe.

Individuals have diverse interests and, as such, can be part of an equally diverse number of tribes. They join these tribes, both large and small, to fulfill their desire to connect with other people around their passions. Think about your own behavior online — what interests lead you from one engagement to the next? No matter how small or obscure the interest, the web has a place and a path to connect.

Segments are dead

People flock to tribes because there is a sense of belonging.

Within a tribe, people are no longer defined by often inadequate wide-brush segmentation labels, like age, gender or profession. Instead, they are understood beyond just being a mother, a millennial or a student for example. Put simply, who we are is defined by what we care about and act on. After all, knowing that someone is fascinated by the French Revolution, is an avid collector of Swatch Watches and hiked every inch of the Appalachian Trail tells people (and brands) a lot more about a person than birth year, ethnicity or annual income.

What people care about drives them to seek out subcultures and communities that reflect their interests, hobbies, affinities and passions.

We, as modern marketers, must shift from a segment to a tribe mentality — from understanding a fixed demographic to understanding the very specific and overlapping interests and affinities of consumers. When we're able to identify the passions that unite a tribe, then we can develop much more authentic, effective relationships with these consumers — and even win their loyalty.

Winning loyalty within tribes

Brands win when they look at their target consumers as people — not as segments — and when they step away from finite data points and, instead, engage the millions that are available.

When a marketer knows what their customers love, talk about, buy, stream on Netflix, follow on Instagram, etc., they can pull all these data points together and use every crayon in the box to draw a full picture of who they are trying to reach.

In addition, knowing your audience means knowing exactly what language to speak. Anthropologists have found that digital tribes are not much different than actual tribes when it comes to language (source: Royal Holloway University of London and Princeton ). People within the same communities seem to adopt the same spellings and misspellings, as well as the same jargon.

A great brand example of this is ROAR client Arby's.

The brand was trying to reach millennial males. But instead of stopping there, through research and social listening, Arby's discovered an important interest within this target: gaming. But Arby's dug even deeper — down to the tribe level — to identify a type of gamer who truly aligned with the brand: geeky, in-it-for-life, nerdtastic gamers.

Arby's isn't best in class because it decided what kind of tribe to connect with. It's best in class because the brand itself became a member of the tribe, a true fan. Arby's cares — sincerely, inventively and engagingly — about what the tribe cares about and uses the same language as fellow members without trying too hard to fit in.

Take a look at any Arby's social feed. You might not get the jokes, but read the comments and you will see that hundreds of thousands of the brand's followers do — and that they're buying roast beef sandwiches because of it.

So how does a brand do this? And where do you even start?

You begin by looking at your ideal audience — your segment. Then you drill down to its sub-segments (and even to sub-segments within those sub-segments). This is how you find your tribe. Now use every data point at your disposal to paint a full picture of it and its members. Once you get to know them, embrace their culture and speak their language, then you can join them at their "campfire," aka the online platform each tribe gathers around.

But how do you get from point A (audience) to point T (tribe) to point C (campfire)? We'll show you how in the next installment of this four-part series — A New Social Model: Shared Spaces.

Marketing that moves

Moxie is built to create next generation marketing solutions that move our clients and our agency forward. Since our launch in 2000, our progressive approach has helped brands of every size and scope grab hold of — and ultimately own — untapped audiences, market share and revenue. Headquartered in Atlanta with offices in Los Angeles, New York and Pittsburgh, Moxie has over 400 talented employees and is a transformational component of Publicis Media. Moxie's client roster includes Verizon Wireless, The Coca-Cola Company, Porsche, Chick-fil-A, Nike, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Walmart, Hoover, TGI Fridays, American Cancer Society and Delta Air Lines.


Justin Archer Chief Marketing Officer 678-916-4520 Justin.Archer@moxieusa.com 384 Northyards Boulevard Suite 300 Atlanta, Georgia 30313 moxieUSA.com


DANIELLE DONNELLY | SVP, STRATEGY Danielle spearheads Moxie's omni-channel strategy practice and leads day-to-day operations across all agency engagements, ranging from AORs to campaign executions and beyond. A skilled strategist with more than nine years of experience, Danielle possesses an in-depth knowledge of brand planning, content strategy, digital, paid social media, channel execution, influencer marketing and more. She has worked with an array of world-class brands, such as Chick-fil-A, My Coke Rewards, Scion, Dasani, Garnier, Verizon Wireless, UPS, 20th Century Fox, Emirates Airlines, InterContinental Hotels Group and Nike Women. Danielle is currently earning her MBA at Emory University.

STEPHANIE WIERWILLE | VP, CONTENT STRATEGY Stephanie oversees Moxie's content strategy discipline, helping national and global brands grow their businesses by finding the right stories to tell across digital, social and traditional channels. She possesses six years of experience that spans brands of all kinds — from Delta Air Lines, Wells Fargo, TGI Fridays and Chick-fil-A to Uniroyal Tires, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, MD Anderson Cancer Center and ULTA Beauty.

ASHLYN REMILLARD | DIRECTOR, SOCIAL STRATEGY Ashlyn leads the social strategy practice at Moxie, charged with evolving the agency's approach to a holistic channel experience amongst shared spaces. With over eight years of industry experience, Ashlyn has developed social and digital marketing strategies and campaigns for brands of all sizes, including The Coca-Cola Company, AT&T, NBC Sports, Atlanta United FC, American Cancer Society, Wells Fargo and more.

ABBY HILL | MANAGER, CONTENT STRATEGY A journalist both by training and trade, Abby is a storyteller to the core. She applies traditional storytelling methods to the digital landscape, weaving compelling brand narratives across the most appropriate channels. During her four-year career, she's worked with brands like Wells Fargo, Ocean Spray, Verizon Enterprises, Mizuno, NCAA and Team USA.

  • Production Lead: Dorothy Miller-Farleo
  • Production Design: Lyn Kotarski
  • Design: Jeff Stewart
  • Editing: Ann Masters
  • Development: Kevin Smith
  • QA: Tony Chavda, David Sanchez