Branding

Create An Online Community For Your Shopify Brand

tribe-spotlight:-create-an-online-community-for-your-brand

Building an online community in conjunction with your ecommerce store can be one of the best moves you make for your brand. A community keeps like-minded people interacting with one another, engaged with your brand, and easily accessible when other community members need guidance or when your brand has something to offer them. Tribe is helping ecommerce stores (and virtually, anyone) harness the power of communities with their platform and in this Tribe review, we’ll cover everything that it can do and how it can help you grow your business, no matter where you’re starting from.

Let’s dive in.

What Tribe Does

Tribe Review Community Platform

It’s your customer base that keeps your business alive and in today’s online world, it can be challenging to create that busy-store feeling that customers get when they shop in-person. That sense of community is a big part of the shopping experience and it gets mostly lost when we all shop from the comfort of our own homes. That’s why Tribe’s community-building platform is so important—it helps create that busy-store feeling while also maintaining the advantages that online forum platforms contribute with its carefully considered features.

In a nutshell, Tribe is a fully-hosted community platform that you can integrate into your website—or run autonomously—and customize to match your brand aesthetics. It’s like the Shopify of forums and online communities. Tribe has created the software and you just have to use it—it’s simple, straightforward, and they’ve really thought of everything that online communities need in order to flourish.

With Tribe, you can create public or private online communities so your customers can interact with you and other customers, and there’s a social aspect to it that makes it interactive and engaging because users can explore content, follow threads and people, ask questions, start discussions, upvote, comment, and share content. You have the option to make it a community that’s integrated into your website or you can create a stand-alone, unique community website—the option is yours!

Although you can build a community on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Tribe offers other functionalities that you can’t get from just using a social media platform to build and grow your community. First of all, you don’t own social media platforms and they can shut down or remove your account at any time which can leave you in the lurch if you’re relying on it to engage with your clients and customers, whereas with Tribe, you have much more ownership over your own community.

On social media platforms, you also have to play by the platform’s rules and share the type of content that’s best suited to the platform whether it’s images or text content, and instead, Tribe gives you more freedom when it comes to the type of content that can be shared. You can customize your community so users can share all types of different content whether it’s images, polls, Q&As, discussions, videos, reviews, and more.

Using Tribe, you also put your community members in the driver’s seat and they have the ability to share the content they want to share, start discussions, answer questions and more, which they can’t do on social media platforms outside of leaving comments on your posts.

When it comes to the social forum platforms that already exist like Reddit, you can’t necessarily create an entire subreddit about your brand because it could be against Reddit’s policies, so that’s why it’s important to use a community platform like Tribe. With Reddit as well, you don’t own the platform so you could be removed at any time and you also have to play by their rules, which is again why it’s so important to create a community somewhere you have more control over its future.

Who Tribe is For

One of the best things about Tribe is that basically anyone can start their own community with it. You don’t have to have an online store to connect it to, and in fact, it can be a powerful way to build an audience of like-minded people around a niche you’re passionate about if you do eventually want to build a business related to it in the future.

So many businesses nowadays create a community first and then create products to sell to them later, so use Tribe to build that community first before you get a business up and running. This is something we cover in our How to Start an Online Business When You’re Not Ready article, so check that out if you want to learn more about why building an audience before you have products to sell them is so important.

Tribe can also be used to create a community for brands that already exist. If you already have an online business, you can congregate your current and prospective customers in your Tribe community to get them discussing and sharing and interacting so you can keep them engaged with your brand and connecting with like-minded individuals.

Brands are already doing this! And they’re doing it because it works. It keeps their customer-base active and coming back to their website and their brand top-of-mind. It also keeps customer support queries down because people can ask and answer questions amongst each other instead of always reaching out to the customer service team.

Some of the companies using Tribe to build communities around their niche include Decathlon, the largest sporting goods retailer in the world. Their Indian branch has created a community to bring sports enthusiasts closer together, sharing their tips, wins, experiences, and asking questions. Check out the Decathlon Sports Community here.

Tribe Community Platform Review Example

Another company, Smart Nora, which sells anti-snoring products, started using Tribe to improve their marketing efforts. They were spending the majority of their budget on social media ads and search engine advertising and they needed a solution to get them a better return on investment, so they reached out to Tribe. This was their results:

In nine months their organic traffic grew five times (500%) helped them save thousands of dollars in ads. Instead of spending money on social media ads, they had the search traffic for questions related to wellness, sleep and snoring. –Smart Nora Case Study by Tribe

They also saw a reduction in customer support emails by 28% in six months which not only alleviated their team but also their budget as each support email costs the company $8.

Other Tribe users include Skyscanner and ConvertKit—check out Tribe’s Customer Showcase for more details on who’s using Tribe and what kind of communities they’re building with it.

Why Use Tribe

Tribe Review Features For Online Communities

The question isn’t really why use Tribe, it’s why not use Tribe.

You really have nothing to lose when it comes to building a community around your brand, product or niche. Consumers crave that community feel and people look for online destinations where they can interact with people who are as passionate about their interests as they are, so if you have a brand or you want to have a brand in the future, create a place where the people that are interested in your niche can come to hang out with others who are just as passionate about it.

Your community doesn’t have to be big to make an impact, either. Start small—it’s a great way to encourage people to get involved because they’ll really feel like their voice is being heard and not getting lost in the crowd. Small communities can make a big difference for your brand too because they’ll likely be your most loyal customers and brand evangelists that you can ask for feedback and reviews and share your new launches with.

In short, use Tribe to:

  • Increase revenue
  • Connect customers
  • Curate knowledge
  • Get user-generated content
  • Improve customer lifetime value
  • Reach your core customers more easily
  • Lessen customer support tickets
  • Get product reviews and feedback
  • Showcase social proof
  • Grow organically with word of mouth
  • Build brand authority with the active community to back it up
  • Develop a stronger and closer connection with your customers

Plus, you can use Tribe whether you’re a sole brand owner or if you’re part of a larger team. Tribe has created dedicated pages to helping team members understand how they can use Tribe to reach their specific goals. If you’re a:

  • Product Manager: Use your Tribe community to increase user engagement, drive retention, and boost customer lifetime value.
  • Community Manager: Use your Tribe community to engage your audience, recruit brand advocates, and increase product use.
  • Marketer: Use your Tribe community to build an organic user channel, reduce acquisition costs, boost organic growth, and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Developer: Use your Tribe community to minimize development time, save resources, improve user experience, and go live with a cutting-edge technology infrastructure.
  • Customer Support Team: Use your Tribe community to meet service level agreements, reduce churn, decrease customer support tickets, and build a knowledge base.

And that’s just a glimpse into how Tribe is effective at all levels of a brand’s team objectives. No matter what your role is or whether you’re running your business on your own, creating a Tribe community will give a lot back to you just as much as it gives a lot back to your users.

And again, what do you have to lose by creating your own community? You really only have something to gain.

Tribe’s Features & Services

Overall, Tribe offers three main components with its community-building platform: The actual platform, the widgets and API, and their app store.

Community Platform & Features

Tribe Community Platform Review

This is Tribe’s bread and butter and it’s where the magic happens—it’s what you use to actually create your community! Tribe’s community platform is super well thought out and it’s clear that Tribe really knows what functionalities online communities need so their users can get the most out of them.

Have a look at all of the features that Tribe has outlined on their Community Platform page which you can use to make your community awesome. Click on each link to learn more about that particular feature:

  • Activity Feed: Use the machine-learned activity feed to deliver a personalized content experience that continuously improves.
  • Multiple Content Types: Allow users to write articles, ask questions, submit answers, participate in polls, and post images and videos.
  • Gamification: Leverage badges, points, and a leaderboard system to increase engagement.
  • Analytics: Focus on key metrics and take proactive actions using their powerful reporting features.
  • Virtual Currencies: Incentivize users to take targeted actions and allow them to redeem the coins for your services.
  • Smart Suggestions: Detect the most relevant members to answer your questions using Tribe AI, and give users the option to send requests.
  • User Management: Easily tag users, perform a bulk import, send invitations to join, and manage roles with their intuitive interface.
  • Moderation: Efficiently manage your community with their moderation tool and maintain the quality of the community while scaling user growth.
  • Behavioral Targeting: Track activity, user behavior, and create profiles to target members via contextual communication and increase conversions.
  • Integrations: Automate processes, seamlessly merge your online community into your existing workflow, and create robust data flow with direct integrations, webhooks, and API.
  • Groups: Enable users to create groups within your community to operate their private spaces, priority user groups, micro-interest groups, and everything in between.
  • Fully White-Label: Build your community with your own branding to deliver a white-label experience. Change everything from colors and logos to widgets and domains.
  • Public/Private Access: Build a public or private community and set registration rules for membership. Enable single sign-on to allow existing users to log in smoothly.
  • Onboarding: Onboard community members by telling your story, introducing key elements, and presenting a set of action items.
  • Custom Domain: Use your own domain name to retain your brand.
  • Notification Tools: Precisely target your members with segmentation via newsletters, emails, and more.
  • Compliance: Create a secure community with regulatory compliance like GDPR and data protection regulations.
  • Content Categorization: Categorize content and enable seamless knowledge discovery with topics.
  • Announcement Banner: Showcase a prominent message with a call-to-action on top of the homepage feed.
  • Member Profile: Member information, networking options, and all the community activities are displayed beautifully here.
  • Internationalization: Create your community with the language of your choice. Select from a list of 20 different languages.
  • SEO Boost: Advanced SEO settings to precisely control how search engines crawl and index your community site.

See—they offer a lot of features to make running your online community powerful and unique to what you need.

Widgets & API

Tribe's Social Widgets

Tribe also offers ready-to-use widgets so you can add valuable parts of your community to your product or website. This means that you can add social proof from your community onto product pages or you can even add community discussions, user polls, and product reviews onto your website.

Tribe also offers an extensive API so pretty much anything you can visualize on your community can be accessed via API. Get an introduction to Tribe’s API docs here.

App Store

Tribe's App Store

Tribe also has an app store so you can integrate your favorite apps into your community!

It also means that you can connect it to your Shopify store with the Tribe Shopify App if you’re using Shopify (Shopify Review) to run your ecommerce business. You can also integrate your community directly to your Shopify store so your users can log in seamlessly with their existing credentials. Plus, you can also promote your products right inside your community and your community members can use the virtual currency they’ve earned by interacting in your community towards their purchases on your Shopify store—so it’s like having a reward program for your high-value community members!

Their app store essentially helps extend the capabilities of your community, plus it can even help automate some aspects of it! Here are some examples:

Plus they have so many other integrations on their app store including MailChimp, Zapier, Google Analytics, Telegram, Google Calendar, Intercom, Stripe, and more.

Upcoming Features

In true community spirit, Tribe also has their own forum where the public can view their product roadmap! Here you’ll see what’s on the horizon in terms of the features and functionalities they’re adding.

Some of the things we’re excited about include:

  • A WordPress integration
  • Broadcasting a post by admins or moderators
  • Bookmarking or saving posts
  • Private inboxes
  • Post scheduling

And much more! It’s clear that the Tribe team really listens to their own community and wants to make their product as functional and flexible for their members.

Tribe’s Pros & Cons

Tribe has a good thing going—take a look at what we think their main advantages and disadvantages are:

Pros

  • Anything you need to create a community of people in your niche, Tribe offers. It’s flexible and adaptable to your needs
  • Create public or private online communities
  • Use widgets & their API to bring aspects of your community onto your website
  • Their app store integrations create more functionalities for your community
  • Tribe is for everyone—use it whether you’re a sole founder or part of a team, or whether you have a business or not
  • Members can write articles, ask questions, submit answers, participate in polls, and post images and videos—nothing is off-limits
  • Use Tribe’s virtual currencies and gamification to incentivize member interaction and reward their engagement
  • Integrate with Google Analytics so you can stay informed about your community and track the metrics that are important to you
  • You can white-label your Tribe community so it stays true to your branding and you can even use your own custom domain
  • Create a community in any of the 20 different languages that Tribe offers
  • Tribe’s product roadmap is publicly available and they’re open to improving their platform to suit their users
  • Tribe is GDPR compliant

Cons

  • At the moment, there’s no built-in feature to charge members a monthly subscription fee if you want to set up a premium, paid-for community. It’s possible to create it through Zapier at the moment, however, they’re planning to make this feature built-in to Tribe towards the end of this year.
  • Not all features, apps, and functionalities are available at every pricing level. It’s important to have a thorough look through their detailed pricing page to understand what’s available at each pricing level and what’s not.

Tribe’s Pricing

Tribe's Pricing Plans

Tribe offers a 14-day free trial and also a free plan, which offers a fair but limited amount of functionality. Here’s a look at Tribe’s pricing:

  • Free: $0/month
    • Custom domain
    • Theme control
    • Groups or sub-communities
    • Essential apps
    • 500 members
    • Community support
  • Plus: $85/month
    • The Free plan, plus:
    • Unlimited members
    • White-label branding
    • Plus apps
    • API access
    • Email support
  • Premium: $249/month
    • The Plus plan, plus:
    • Single sign-on (SSO)
    • Advanced analytics
    • Premium apps
    • Staging environment
    • Chat support
  • Enterprise: Contact Tribe
    • The Premium plan, plus:
    • Custom apps
    • Custom design
    • Enterprise apps
    • 24/7 support

Conclusion

You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain when it comes to building an online community around your niche, brand, or business and the good news is that it’s relevant to anyone—whether you already have a business or not! Get building a community within your niche if you don’t have a product to sell yet, and if you are selling products then get your customers involved and interacting in one place—your online community. Tribe has all of the nitty-gritty details figured out so you can get set up easily and actually take part in your community.

This article originally appeared in the A Better Lemonade Stand blog and has been published here with permission.

About the author

Steve Hutt

I'm obsessed with entrepreneurship, commerce, and Shopify. If you have the desire to implement what's working today for direct-to-consumer brands on Shopify, I'm excited you're here! Get the Shopify help you need. This industry blog and podcast is my digital brain where my guests and I share cutting-edge marketing strategy, must-have Shopify apps, and marketing platforms that will help you build and scale lifetime customer loyalty. To do this, I'm part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus and host of the eCommerce Fastlane Podcast.