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Tribalry Makes Anything Into a Social Network

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Like it or not, you're probably part of a tribe. Whether it's your family, your Dungeons & Dragons group or your office, you most likely belong to a group with its own social intricacies, rituals and conversations that would make little sense to social media at large. Enter Tribalry, a new social media network that lets you share information among a very specific group.

I met with representatives from Tribalry at SXSW 2015, and while "yet another social network" may sound like the last thing you need, I hadn't seen anything quite like it before. A "tribe," as the company explained, is a group with a common culture and social hierarchy. By that definition, just about everyone belongs to one. The current solutions for maintaining a tribe, such as e-mail, Facebook groups and message boards, aren't comprehensive solutions, according to the company.

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The way Tribalry works is very simple. A self-appointed tribe leader creates a page – for example, the matriarch of a family, the CEO of a corporation or the game master in a pencil-and-paper roleplaying game. From there, tribe members can share news, converse on specific topics or write long-form stories.

Performing these actions earns coins, a Tribalry-specific currency, which members can spend at auctions. A tribe leader can incentivize his or her followers to be more active, earn more coins and then offer prizes that they can bid on. A corporation might auction off gift cards, while a teacher could offer an extra credit assignment.

Coins also factor into how Tribalry will make its money. Creating extremely targeted groups is music to advertisers' ears, since it makes perfect sense to sell fishing poles to a fly fishing group or comic books to a superhero group. Companies will pay Tribalry for ad space, and tribe members can earn extra coins by purchasing advertised products.

The network is currently in its alpha stages, so functionality is simple (there's no easy way to share files, for example) and the user base is relatively small. Still, it could be worth checking out if Facebook is too broad and e-mail is too narrow for your particular tribe.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.