It seems so, if you look at the meaning of the word ‘tribe’.
We have a cultural sense of the term, but when you start looking at the history of the word tribe, a small sense of shock is inevitable. In the first place, there’s some debate about where it came from. It’s either political (meaning, a division of the Roman state), or biblical (meaning, one of the 12 divisions of the ancient Hebrews.
In the sense of it being a collective of people, that comes from the Greek phyle, which examines characteristics.
(Gardeners will note the similarity with phylum, which is used in botany.)
The shock might come when you realise that some definitions of the origin of tribe refer to a collection of ‘barbarous individuals’. Hence terms like tribal referring to distasteful or aggressive behaviours.
What’s the problem with calling your followers your ‘audience’?
In the true sense of the word, audience refers to a group of people who are listening. Hence its root, ‘au-’ (which means ‘to perceive’).
Now, a lesson in etymology is all well and good but WHY do we need to think about this stuff?
Well, at some point in your business publishing, you’ll start wondering who your tribe even is.
Your marketer will hand you a bunch of “personas”.
Your team will look at the personas and wonder how to use them, because marketers who create personas rarely teach people how to use them, or think about them, in concrete ways.
You may not have even had a conversation with this imaginary person, so everything you’re planning is guess-work. Guess-work and business, in the same sentence, makes me nervous.
The truth is somewhat unpalatable, because it’s unpredictable.
Your audience finds you. It’s not the other way around. Yes, this is dependent on how you distribute and sell — of course. But while you can have someone in mind to talk to, there’s a very good chance you won’t talk to them. Instead, you’ll talk to people who self-assess as being like them.
They do that because of your voice, your content, and your consistency in all things.
You can get consistency with a production calendar; but your voice and your content come from deeper within the strategy and drive of your business. It’s making the whole picture coherent that enables your audience to find you.