How to Improve Brand Community Engagement

Category: Community Marketing (Tribe Lab)

If you already have a group of people following you (passive members) and a couple of fans (tribesmen) but you want to maximize your group’s potential, then this article is for you.

We’ll be covering how you can transform your group into a community filled with Tribesman who volunteer their time to regularly speak about your organization’s passion. Tribesman will praise your brand naturally and share their personal insights on the community which you would usually pay a fortune for with market research. If you continue to nurture your member relationships, they’ll be lifers.

To get going, you should read Introduction article and Understanding key components. These will give you the foundational knowledge you need to maximize the resources in this article.

Who are Tribesmen and why are they important for Community Engagement?

Tribesmen are the core members of your community – they’re the people every community hopes to have. They’re your ambassadors and they’re highly engaged. If you post something they are most likely to comment. When you host an event, they are most likely to attend. They will also initiate a conversation with other members of your community and set up their own events that align with your vision and passion. They are the driving force for Word of Mouth about your community and your products and services. They have a strong connection to this passion and your vision.

Tribesman fuels your community. They are why communities are so influential and powerful. They are well-respected and they have a great relationship with you and your organization, thereby building brand clout. They provide you insight into your community ahead of industry giving you real-time insight. They create trust amongst members and your brand. The clout that they provide helps your brand build brand clout as well as a sustained ongoing build unlike shotgun advertising. Besides investing in your community as a whole, investing in your Tribesmen is the best investment for your business as it provides the highest ROI.

The Evolution of Your Community

From the early stages of your community, you will notice different types of visitors or members engaging. They fall into four categories: Guest Visitors, Ghost Members, Passive Members and Tribesmen.

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1. Guest Visitors

Definition: Someone who previously didn’t know about the existence of the community and happened to pass by through some useful information or entertaining content that the community shared.

We will cover the definition of ‘useful information’ in the next section.

Motivation to enter this stage: Information Usefulness

  • Information Usefulness: provide useful content that grabs the attention of outsiders to further indulge in their passion. Usefulness can be defined as relevant education or entertainment.

Attracting Guest Visitors

All your members first started out as Guest Visitors. They were first attracted by useful information from one of your media outlets. Whether it’s paid, shared, earned or owned media, they found you. The key is to provide useful resources that help them indulge further in their passion.

2. Ghost Members

Definition: A member of your community that resonates with your vision and passion and perceives your community as useful and trustworthy. They are still speculative or curious at this point and will act as a bystander and will not be an active participant.

Motivation to enter this stage: Community Usefulness

  • Interest in Passion & Vision: joining because they are interested in the topic and could potentially get behind your vision. They’re still assessing.

  • Perceived Trust: they deem your community as a trustworthy place for them to potentially engage further

  • Perceived Enjoyment: while usefulness can get them in the door, membership perception of enjoyment that your community provides can continually provide enjoyment to them

Evolving Guest Visitors to Ghost Members

A Guest Visitor turns into a Ghost Member when they are curious about your organization’s community. As a Ghost Member they are now evaluating whether or not they feel that they can trust your community and that they align with your vision and passion.

There are myriad of ways to transform Ghost Members to Passive Members. First and foremost they have to align with your passion and vision. You don’t want members that don’t align with those key components of your community, so let those members weed themselves out. For members that do align, your goal is to gain their trust.

In order to build trust, there are four main things you need to do. The foundational elements are ensuring that your platform allows customisation of the member experience, ie. does the platform allow them to customize their experience or is it a one way street. This gives the member the feeling of control. The second, is to ensure that your platform allows administrators to respond quickly to any questions or comments they have. The third is to ensure that members see open discussion between members, as well as responses to their comments and questions from other members. Finally, transparency of member identities. This can be created through members utilizing their real names, providing pictures of members and/or through offline interaction where members get to meet one another and the leaders of the community.

3. Passive Members

Definition: Members who are in tune with what is happening and will occasionally react to conversations that are happening but won’t necessary start a conversation. These individuals have confirmed they are inline with your community’s vision and passion and perceive the community as useful and trustworthy. Notice that those four factors qualifies them as members, but they don’t make them Tribesmen. Those four factors only provide short-term, light engagement.

Motivation to enter this stage:

  • Alignment on Passion & Vision: perceived alignment with the passion topic and feels that your community’s vision aligns with their individual values.

  • Consistent Enjoyment: provide consistent entertaining content that grabs their attention to further indulge in their passion. Usefulness can be defined as relevant entertainment or education. This is where belongingness begins to become a factor that contributes to enjoyment.

  • Confirmed Trustworthy: they continually experience or witness evidence that confirms your community is a trustworthy place for them to potentially engage further

  • Additional Benefits: overall assessment that the benefits surpass the cost of membership. This can be the ongoing content that members perceive as useful or it can be more – ie. discounts, access to resources, etc.

Evolving Ghost Members to Passive Members

This is where Ghost Members decide whether or not they feel comfortable enough to engage a bit further. Member interaction with each other will be key in helping them feel comfortable and see if they’re in agreeance with others. Usually advocacy posts help create further engagement as well. The goal here is to make them further engage. It gets more challenging over time to move Ghost Members to Passive Members, so try to get them involved from the get go!

4. Tribesmen

Definition: Members who feel a sense of belonging in your community. They actively engage and lead discussions with other Tribesman in the community. They’re comrades. While they might not agree on how to achieve the vision, they share the vision. They want to actively contribute to the cause and defend the community whenever necessary, they drive word-of-mouth about your vision and passion, and they’re an empowered group of members that will be your driving force towards success.

They attend your events and they also set up events for your community. They are highly engaged and are the first to participate. They are proud to be associated with your community.

Before you start your community, you’ll need a group of tribesmen to launch. These individuals embody your values, have a deep understanding of your passion, and completely buy into your vision. They will be the ones to help ignite the fire.

Motivation to enter this stage:  Camaraderie

  • Engaging Conversations:discussions are interesting and engaging. The conversations are dynamic. Allowing space for varying opinions on how to achieve the shared vision and indulge their passion.

  • Offline Meet-Ups: feels bonded to other members in the community. This is encouraged by face-to-face meetings with other members in the community. This builds further trust and attachment with other members. This will further reinforce any online communities.

  • Resources to Indulge: the leader/brand provides opportunities to indulge in their passions and contribute to the vision.

Evolving Passive Members to Tribesman

Once Ghost Members are Passive Members, you’ll want to transform them into Tribesman. This is when your members begin to feel a sense of belonging in your community. Your Entertaining Content keeps your members engaged and encourages them to slowly interact more with the community. Entertaining content helps to make people feel at ease because it makes the community feel accessible and friendly.

In order for a Passive Member to become Tribesmen, they need to actively engage with other members. This is where your vision comes in and allows others to further engage by helping to achieve your shared vision. For example, if your vision is making snowboarding accessible to all, you may want to launch an initiative to provide 100 boards to to children who can’t afford it and part of the initiative is to get members to contribute and find ways to raise money and awareness of this campaign. When your members are empowered to work amongst themselves to achieve that vision, you are able to create more Tribesmen.

The more they collaborate and speak amongst themselves, the stronger your community will be and the more Tribesmen you will create. The goal is to empower your community to achieve your vision and to fuel their passion by continuously providing content and resources to help them drive your shared vision forward.


How quickly an individual moves from visitor to tribesmen really depends on how well oiled your community machine is. The individuals themselves and how quickly they trust your community will determine how fast they become Tribesmen.

An individual can move from visitor to tribesmen within a day or it could take years. All you can do as a community leader is ensure all of the components are in place so your community is as comfortable and welcoming as possible for newcomers. Remember that there are four groups of people you have to take care of Guest Visitors, Ghost members, Passive Members and your Tribesmen. Each play a critical role in the health and growth of your community. If you want to learn more, it might be valuable to read our community marketing strategy posts

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With My Loud Speaker’s Tribe Lab, we study the social psychology of communities and share our research in hopes of replacing noisy, interruptive advertising with passionate brand communities around the world.

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Tammy Tsang

Tammy Tsang is the Founder of My Loud Speaker Marketing, which has been providing successful campaigns to major clients for over six years. Her company has attained glowing recommendations from prestigious organizations such as the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, University of British Columbia, BC Cancer Agency, and more. She is also the founder of XYBOOM Intergenerational Organization, which runs an annual conference on topics surrounding intergenerational relationships in the workplace.

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