In a world that’s deeply divided, finding and cultivating a sense of community has never been more important. Expert storytellers, activists, and tribe builders Elaine Welteroth and Cleo Wade discuss how to build safe spaces to engage a socially conscious community — online and IRL — through authentic storytelling, empathy, and personal narrative. This 2018 SXSW Featured Session unlocks how to build a “tribe” online that organizes IRL. The solution for capturing and, more importantly, building a community is seeing your target audience not as “other,” but as yourself.
“You cannot change the stories, unless you change the storytellers. That is something that is really important to grasp because if you change the message, but you aren’t coming from an authentic place, it is not going to land.” – Elaine Welteroth
Wade started of the conversation by explaining and breaking down the differences between micro and macro relationships. “It’s about what is the right place and the right time for the right type of connection,” said Wade. She went on to say that micro connections take up less of your attention span and requires less energy, usually these relationships are online relationships. Macro connections go beyond the click, “that happens best when we sit down IRL,” said Wade.
Both Welteroth and Wade shared numerous anecdotes about how their relationship went from micro to macro, “we had this incredible conversation that has lead to much more than a friendship, its lead to a sisterhood, its lead to us coming together as partners in work. We’ve been able to create a community, amplify a community around us because of something that started on the internet” said Welteroth.
Welteroth spoke at great length on how she used the Teen Vogue platform to tackle hot button issues such as cultural appropriation and the 2016 Presidential election, “with that one [Trump] story we were able to bring in a wider group of people that we weren’t even aiming for.”
Towards the end of the session, Welteroth posed the question to Wade about the difference between a tribe and an echo chamber. “A tribe does things, a tribe changes things, with an echo chamber is where we try to cross that line with public therapy.’
“In 2018, we’ve never been more consumed with our phones, the 24/7 news cycle, we’ve never felt more connected through social media and to the internet. But research also tells us that we’ve never been so disconnected from ourselves and each other; more depressed, more anxious, and more isolated.” – Elaine Welteroth
Learn more about what Wade and Welteroth have to say about tribe building in the full SXSW 2018 Featured Session, TRIBE BUILDING 2.0: Engaging a Conscious Community Online & IRL from the Social & Global Impact Track.
TRIBE BUILDING 2.0: Engaging a Conscious Community Online & IRL – Photo by Kaylin Balderrama