Building a Musical Tribe for Kylie Minogue

She’s been dutifully building her reputation as a pop icon since the ’80s, and Australian musical artist Kylie Minogue has the fan base to show for it. The challenge now is to keep them interested and engaged.

The solution is Kylie Konnect, a social site for Minogue fans the world over, said to be the first artist social network. The property is built on user profile, blog, and forum technology and allows fans to manage their profiles directly from their mobile handsets or from their PCs. There are currently over 18,000 registered profiles on the site.

Although the content, which is up to date and often exclusive, is unquestionably skewed toward all things Minogue, the site has also become a haven for Internet users eager to connect with like-minded people about topics relevant to their young lives. Take a look at some recent blog posts, and you’ll find that questions run the gamut from health issues to hair straighteners.

If this talk of a tight-knit Web-based group of consumers sounds familiar, it’s because Minogue has gone and found herself a tribe: an online community of consumers with similar interests and needs that gather in a social environment to converse. In this case, Minogue is the spark that ignited the creation of the new community. But the oxygen that keeps the fire burning comes from the additional demographic and psychographic factors tribal members have in common. As discussed in the column, “Tribal Marketing,” it’s these factors that media planners and buyers need to identify to track down the ideal tribe to target online.

Kylie Konnect was built by New Visions Mobile, a U.K.-based company that develops social networking applications for Web-based and mobile platforms that appeal to tribes (its product is aptly named OurTribe). Its integration of user-generated media into a multibrowser platform is intended for “brands with fans,” whether those brands are a globally recognized pop act like Minogue or a niche pastime like carp fishing. Believe it or not, the latter has the following to warrant the creation of social network CarpTribe, which fishers can use to “blog lakeside,” meet other anglers in their area, and upload photos of their catches from mobile phone or PC.

Both Kylie Konnect and CarpTribe.com offer good examples of how marketers should approach the notion of online tribes. While it’s relatively new, tribal marketing shouldn’t be intimidating, particularly when you consider that there are few products, lifestyles, or activities that don’t lend themselves to an online tribe. Working with one isn’t unlike what you’ve been doing with social networking. Your goal of locating and connecting with a passionate audience of like-minded Internet users remains the same. Calling these audience segments tribes and tracking them down on specialized social sites (or on a tribal destination you’ve created for them) just simplifies the process by corralling them in a place where their passion can be cultivated.

By successfully interpreting their wants and needs, delivering your message in a manner consistent with their tribal-speak, and respecting their desire to be perceived as exclusive (see Anna Maria Virzi’s recent column for more marketing tips), this passion can be transferred to the advertisers who coexist in the tribal space. And as indicated by the blog posts on Kylie Konnect, the product needn’t be limited to topic-specific merchandise. Many social sites and portals that attract tribes offer the opportunity for contextual targeting, if not through an automated ad management system, then manually by combing blog and forum topics to gauge the interests of site users. The key is to tap into the halo effect that exists with tribes; even though their passion is laser-focused on a single theme, the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral commonalities that tie them together on a deeper level manifest themselves in additional lifestyle interests that advertisers can relate to — and apply to their campaigns.

Fans of Minogue have a rich social site where they can gather to share their excitement about this particular brand. It’s our turn as marketers to gather in the places that attract the tribes we rely on to share the excitement about our products online.

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