So You Want to Build a Tribe on Instagram?

Build a Tribe on Instagram

I ask the question every single time: If you could just nail down a consistent brand message, what do you think that would help you do?

They think for a second, and then they say one of two things:

  1. I could sell more to my kind of people. I could book more dream clients, and stop saying “yes” to the “no’s.”

  2. I could finally build a tribe/create a community/find like-minded people (and a million variations of the same sentiment).

From that, I can gather that THE BIG DREAM, the one everyone is aiming for is some version of this:

Get paid to do something fulfilling, and surround myself with people who can get behind that thing.

Important Lesson: If you’re approaching your website and social media with the same strategy, you may need to take a step back and reevaluate.

When most people land on your website, they want to know who you are and how you can help them. They are problem-focused, looking for a solution.

When most people turn to social media, however, they’re looking to fill a void without even knowing it. They're not saying “I’m feeling lonely. I think I’ll get on social media,” they’re subliminally turning to the app to fill their desire for connection. On the scientific level, it’s a boost of serotonin. On a psychological level, it’s the thing that burns the least mental calories for the most immediate gain (validation, community, etc.).

Love it or hate it, Instagram provides the arena for us to build a foundation of connection for our businesses, thereby creating a network that serves to shout your name from the rooftops, and encourage you on a Monday, all in the same space.

So, while the ultimate goal is to get them off the app and to our websites where we can truly serve them (important thing to remember), we have to start where they are.

We have to connect before we ever convert.

You know the worst way to connect? Hitting the brick wall of an Only Sell Bio on Instagram. Sending a DM that says “You’re the perfect person to buy my thing!! I just know it!” when they have no idea if you are married or like tacos or prefer video messaging to texts.

I want you to stop trying to convert before you ever connect (we can talk about ways to do that on a landing page in another blog post), but I want you to also stop shying away from connection because you think it’s 1) scary or 2) baffling.


So you know you need to connect, but you’re wondering—OKAY, HOW?

Those influencers make it look so natural. How do you build a tribe of people who like chickpeas and want to save the environment? Like, how do you even FIND those people who are inspired by someone normal?

(a.k.a. you don’t have 7 children with perfect hair and a SUPER-practical swing in your living room? how dare you want INFLUENCE!)

In our marketing efforts, we often focus our effort on social proof, expertise/authority, urgency, but we forget to be likeable.

Yep, they have to like you in order to get on board. (cue the middle school flashbacks, right?)

But, no really. One of the 7 Weapons of Influence, according to Cialdini’s Psychology of Persuasion is “liking.” “Liking,” or “connection” as we more diplomatically call it, can start at different levels for different people.

Clarence Darrow said, “The main work of a trial attorney is to make a jury like his client.”

And, while we’re hopefully not under the pressure of a criminal defense, I can promise that people will like you more if you present the real you. What’s the only way you can convince them to choose you in a sea of people doing the EXACT SAME THING? Don’t just be likeable, be loveably authentic.

The core of it? Commonality and vulnerability. The root is this: people want to connect with someone who shares their likes and dislikes, but also their flaws and shortcomings.

Points of connection are tricky. In order to connect, we must go deep, but to get someone to go deep, they have to be in the door. They have to trust you. If we lead with only our flaws and shortcomings, it will feel heavy. If we only talk about our likes and dislikes, people will splash in our shallow puddle for a little bit, but will leave to find a place to dive deep.

We have to give them BOTH.

12 angles of connection to start building your tribe

  • What you do. This could be your occupation, your hobbies, your habits (weekends vs. weekdays), how you cook dinner, how you prep for the week, what you do at a networking event. This gives people context to know how you function in real life. The key here: BE HONEST. This should give a glimpse into what it would be like to meet you in person, and then once they meet you, it should match up! (inside jokes, anyone?)

  • What you wish you could do. This is a great point of connection because we all have two versions of ourselves: who we are now and who we desperately want to be. The only difference is whether or not you’re taking action to become that person, and THAT is the space where we connect. Because we all want to do more, we just have different obstacles that are keeping us from getting there. If you can help me realize my own potential? I’ll be your forever fan.

  • What you don’t do. Think big or small. Do you hate doing dishes and have a hubby who’s obsessed with them? No, just me? Do you outsource certain things on a regular basis? Have you never had a cup of coffee? First.. why? Second… that’s different, and that’s a detail people can latch onto. Reina Pomeroy always says, “What’s ‘duh’ to you is MINDBLOWING to them.” Share details that seem insignificant and note the response. It might surprise you.

  • What frustrates you. Okay, before you start ranting on the regular, I’m going to encourage to use this one lightly and with intention. Don’t start a crazy Facebook Fury Feud, but think about what frustrates you in light of conversation. Can we change it? Can we choose not to be frustrated by it? Are other people frustrated by it? Why? Use these topics to explore the pain points of your audience, and then use those pain points to help them find solutions in their own lives. Empowerment, people! No victim mentalities here.

  • What makes you laugh. I mean, self-explanatory. The other day I was on Marco Polo with a friend, and I discovered filters on accident. It made me laugh so hard that I forgot why I was mad and what I was ranting about. What shakes you awake? What keeps you in the moment because you can’t stop giggling? What does that do for your life? When was the last time you REALLY laughed?

  • What you eat/what you don’t eat. This is a TRUE tribe builder. People are both very divided, and very invested in what other people eat. It’s prime ground for pain points and success stories simply because we ALL HAVE TO EAT, every day. Multiple times a day. Do you know how many clients book me because of my professed love for tacos? You don’t want to know. Trust me.

  • What you drink/what you don’t drink. See above. Do you know how many friends I’ve made in real life and on the internet because of my love for iced coffee? Too many to count. (AND I LOVE IT.)

  • How you make friends. I can’t make friends in a big group of people. I’m awkward and I overcompensate with humor and it’s kind of sad to watch. But, one-on-one? I bring a book. I ask deep questions. It’s the best. How do you make friends? Do you wish you could change it, or step into another space with courage? Are you the best or the worst at it?

  • Why your friends stick around. Most of my friends stick around because we share the same beliefs and core values, if you really get down to it. BUT, they also stick around to hear about my next crazy idea, to hear me say awkward things in groups, and to be privy to my ridiculous analogies about life and sticking your hand in a freshly washed pants leg. (ew.)

  • What you fear. Here’s where the vulnerability comes in. NONE of us are devoid of fear. We are only separated by whether or not we move forward in spite of fear. Be specific. Be open. Ask people to respond.

  • Your triumphs/wins. I like to talk about my triumphs and wins in light of what I learned from them, or how they’re a sign of me moving forward IN fear. Tread lightly here as, again, people want to know a triumph is possible, even in the midst (or BECAUSE OF) their flaws and setbacks.

  • Your limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are what stand between the CURRENT YOU and the BEST YOU, the you you want to be. And, guess what? They’re standing in that same spot for your audience.

    Tip: Try addressing limiting beliefs that would keep them from working with you. That’s a great way to talk about your services in a “non-salesy” kind of way.

  • Your Why. While this topic is definitely overused, it’s a powerful one. I want you to approach it from any and every angle possible. Why does your WHY make you the best person for the job? Why does your WHY keep you from sleeping in? Has it changed or shifted? Be super specific. Ask other people to share.

Remember: start small, but don’t be afraid to GO BIG.

Also, remember: the lowest barrier to entry = tacos, coffee, that dry shampoo life. But, the deeper stuff? That’s what shows your audience that you see them, you’re for them, and you know they have it in them if they can just move forward in spite of everything.

Action Step:

Connect with one person on Instagram through DMs or in a caption (hint: if you’re scared, use me!).

PLEASE share your next step with me in the comments or tag me over on Instagram (@jessjordana) so I can cheer you on and share with the masses!

Jess, XO


I'm Jess,

iced-coffee-obsessed, saved-by-grace, allergic-to-small talk, and one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet.