Who’s The Chief of Your Social Tribe?

Ryan Adcroft
Ryan Adcroft Marketing Consultant, Tribal Media

Posted on June 25th 2011

Who’s The Chief of Your Social Tribe?

Why is it that so many businesses lack what it takes to be successful with social media?  I think we can all agree that  social media marketing is extremely important. Yet so many businesses are coming up short of being successful and using social media effectively. I believe, one of the key factors which is causing most businesses to FAIL with social media can be found in one simple root issue. This issue I believe is that businesses are failing to elect a person or persons to be the leader of their tribe and not using their social media platforms on a personal level.


People won’t interact with a logo, auto responder or personality-less social media page. This isn’t rocket science and may seem pretty simple but there are a large number of businesses out there getting this wrong. If your business fails to be real, act real, and look real then you are going to fail with social media before you even start. Below I’ve listed a few steps you can take to help make sure your on the right track with your social media. 

  1. Who’s the person behind the curtain? Who is the chief of your social tribe? This can be the business owner, the CFO, a key employee, or a team of people. The important thing is that the people following your tribe know who this is. Without this, your business will never develop true relationships and trust with your fans.
  2. What's your Twitter handle? @business123 will no longer cut it and isn’t very personal. Your business name and other important information should be in your bio but your name should be in your handle. Also, don’t forget to have a picture of you and not your logo for your profile pic. People want to talk to people not @business123 and @business123‘s logo. 
  3. Get your Facebook fan page right too! This type of transparent personalization needs to be found on your Facebook fan page as well. I understand your Facebook fan page will be your businesses name but why not customize a profile pic and have both your logo and a key representative or community leader in it? Also, if there is more then one person managing the fan page maybe signing off after each post with your name to let people know who is actually engaging, sharing, or responding. You can also adjust your settings to display the page owners for all to see. Lastly, don’t be afraid to add more customization to your page such as a welcome landing page, about you page...etc. There are a number of tools available to help you accomplish this.These are all small elements but they add up to make a major difference towards creating a brand & tribe that people trust and want to engage with.

Do you find this to be a common issue among businesses in social media? What are some businesses that have branded themselves effectively by being personable and transparent?

Ryan Adcroft

Ryan Adcroft

Marketing Consultant, Tribal Media

Marketing Consultant & Co-Founder of Tribal Media - A Full Service Social Media Agency -Tweet with me on the latest social media news, tips and trends! @RyanAdcroft

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Posted on June 25th 2011 at 10:46PM

Thanks for your insight. You’ve presented some clear and concise tips that are very useful.  

I hope you don’t mind me speaking from another perspective.  

I believe that as exciting as it is to create a social presence online, businesses tend not to realize that it's going to require time and resources dedicated toward their marketing efforts to be successful. What’s happening more so (and this may pertain more so to small businesses) is business owners are trying to be everything for their business i.e. Bookkeeper, Cleaner, Administrator, Sales & Marketing, etc. which leaves little time to manage their online presence effectively.  So basically, there isn’t a Chief available and they’re reaching, grabbing and jumping in where ever and whenever with no real plan in mind. And as asinine is it may appear to some people, we can’t ignore the percentage of startups that get going without a business plan, little or no capital but with big dreams, desire and strong passion for what they done for so long.

They (Small Business Owners) aren’t looking to quit and given up. They are looking for simple solutions that they themselves can manage. 

Posted on June 26th 2011 at 3:07PM



I think you make an excellent point.  So many small businesses have limited resources (manpower, money, etc.) to maintain a social media prescene.  Some business owners still aren't convinced that social media is a necessary part of their marketing strategies. Hiring a social media strategist or a team of social media professionals is probably the best piece of advice I can give.  Good strategists know what they doing, and can make sure the small business' marketing needs are met.  Theres a great company called Sylvan Media based in Michigan who prides itself on offering professional social media customization and optimization services at an affordable rate.  You should check them out (sylvanmedia.com)



Ryan Adcroft
Posted on June 27th 2011 at 3:27PM

Hey Alicia,

Thanks for reading and your feedback! This is why small businesses need to hire help such as a social media agency. They need to be able to remove one of these many hats they are wearing. Business owners can't be experts in all aspects of their business and this is why it would be beneficial for them to hire this out. A reputable social media agency can set that social media strategy in place, come up with a plan on how to execute it, and have complete knowledge on everything on the "technical" side. This way the small biz owner can still be the "chief of his tribe", he just has a social media manager there to aid him & "teach" him about the process!

Also, I wouldn't think of this move as them giving up. They are just seeking out help to further strengthen this aspect of their business and freeing up time to run their business. There is no simple solution to a successful social media presence. Just like there is no simple solution to any marketing strategy/objective for a business. Everything takes time, knowledge, persistence & trials and errors.


Thanks again for your input!

Ryan A

Posted on June 26th 2011 at 5:06AM

What would you recommend for a big business or university whose Facebook and Twitter accounts are handled by a dedicated but non-management employee? I post and monitor the social media presence for my university, but I neither graduated from the university nor from the type of degree program it offers. Therefore, we have preferred my posts and tweets to be associated with the page account, not my personal account.

Ryan Adcroft
Posted on June 27th 2011 at 3:37AM

Actually, this is always the situation with my clients in my social media agency. Here is an example:

  • One client of ours, in particular, is an eye care practice. We manage their social presence. Even though we haven't been a patient or employee of this practice, we still can successfully bring a personality through on their platforms. Here's how. 
  1. We don't just have their logo as their avatars or profile pics. We have pictures of the doctors. 
  2. All posts are approved by a few dedicated staff members of the practice, as well as the doctors.
  3. They are made aware of any comments/conversations going on in any of their platforms and direct us on how to respond, if need be.
  4. So for all intensive purposes, it is the actual doctors who are the "chiefs of their tribe", they just don't have time to be the ones actually responding, posting, monitoring etc. We, as their SMMgr's, handle it all for them. However, it's important to point out that even though the doctor's aren't doing the actual "posting", the relationships that are being built are still authentic. They know about every comment that is made and always direct us with their responses.

    So, in your case, it's correct that everything is running through the Universities accounts. You just need to have a dedicated person from the university, that is the "chief of the tribe", available to you so it is still authentic. Maybe you should have pictures of the staff members, or pictures of the Dean, or even the universities mascott included in your profile pictures. People are still interacting with the University, not necessarily "you". You are just sort of a "translator" in a certain way. 

Hope this helps...thanks for reading my article & for the comment!
-Ryan A. 


Posted on June 27th 2011 at 8:05PM

See, I have to disagree about publicizing the admins. I run the social media efforts for a community college and my Facebook inbox would be flooded with private messages from students with questions, which is nothing I, nor any of our admins want. We prefer that students are interacting with the college and know that our Facebook is a resource and for them. Our students haven't expressed interest in knowing who is behind the monitor, only that their concerns are heard and their questions answered.

Ryan Adcroft
Posted on June 27th 2011 at 11:52PM

That's a very good point, Alyssa! The thing about social media, and marketing in general, is there isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy. I think that in the case of a University, you're right, it wouldn't be too strategic to declare who the admins are. I think that the main point here is that businesses who aren't being personable, authentic, real...etc. are the ones that are failing. So I think that as long as the university has other strategies in place to cover those bases, it's page will be successful.

I recently was reading an article on Stanford Universities Facebook strategy. They hold "Facebook Office Hours" where a professor will have a designated time slot where they will be on the Facebook page. The professor then posts a video talking about research, work or their department. Fans get to ask questions during this designated time and the Professor is there to answer them in real-time. THAT is being personable. THAT is putting a personality behind the logo. Now, this is just one example, there are many different things that a University could do to connect deeper w. it's fans. 

What kind of unique strategies have you set in place for the University page you are an admin of? I would love to hear more about it!

Thanks for the comment!
Ryan A.  

Posted on July 1st 2011 at 12:22PM

I enjoyed the article but I had a few questions about what you've said concerning logos as profile avatars.  I'm getting ready to launch a digital media based ministry.  Obviously ministry is a place where you need to be very personal.  I had just assumed that I would design a logo and that would be the avatar.  I get why you're saying to avoid that, and don't necessarily disagree.  However, I know that with the organization fan pages that I've "liked" on Facebook, I can easily pick out thier posts as I scroll down, because of the logo.  What about people getting it visually confused with my personal account, if I use a picture of myself.  And lastly, would that give the impression that I think it's all about me, when really ministry is anything but?  I'd really appreciate your thoughts.

Ryan Adcroft
Posted on July 5th 2011 at 5:52PM

Hey David,

This is a great question. My advice would be for you to create a logo for your ministry along with a custom profile picture displaying both your logo and a picture of yourself in it. Then edit the thumbnail to show your logo only (which will appear in the news feed when you post). This way when someone clicks to your page they see the ministry logo and yourself. I attached a link to my businesses Facebook Page where I have done this to give you an example. Hope this helps!


Thanks for reading the post and your feedback!


David Kirscht
Posted on July 8th 2011 at 12:35PM

That's a great idea, I hadn't thought about that.  I'll check this out.  Thanks for the response.