We’ve talked about tribes before. Those groups and connections which exist in person across your campus and remotely across online platforms, bringing students together and giving them a sense of engagement and belonging.

And it’s no different in lockdown. Tribes haven’t disappeared, they’ve evolved. 

Take the Step Chickens ‘movement’; not just a platform for bored teenagers, it’s a straight up TikTok cult. Tapping into the lockdown zeitgeist and giving followers a purpose, a leader and a place to come together in the time of social distancing.

Launched just a few weeks ago, the Step Chickens app, headed by 27-year old Melissa Ong, has already been downloaded over 100,000 times. Building on the success of her TikTok and YouTube profiles, Ong is one of the new wave of influencers who has taken advantage of lockdown and used it as a stepping stone to online greatness on a small scale.

Creative, quirky and imperfect, Step Chickens, like other TikTok ‘cults’, is notable for its normality. Featuring a relatable leader and shareable content, the cults give their followers permission to be themselves and embrace their individuality. 



Thank you @reitergrace for joining us. RISE MY STEP-CHICKENS RISE 🐔 ##fyp ##stepchickens ##joinourcult

♬ original sound - chunkysdead

So how does all this translate to student tribes? Well, Step Chickens shows how people still want to reach out, interact and form connections despite being physically apart in lockdown. Use your online platforms and build those connections virtually, giving students the space to create their own content and come together in a meaningful way, using your institution as the common ground. 

Identify micro-influencers among your students, alumni and staff, use them to create authentic content that speaks to your student tribes, and think niche; if Step Chickens shows us anything, it’s that smaller, less ‘obvious’ groups are really worth nurturing and growing. 

But, most importantly of all - be aware and a part of what’s happening within these platforms and ‘cults’. Watch and engage in the diverse melting pot of conversations happening on them. And jump in and get involved - just remember to be open, thoughtful and understanding when you do.

We’re always looking for new ways to think outside of the box, and if you’re an institution that is inspired to do so too, get in touch with our creative strategists now. 

Article by

Tom Setter

Director of Advertising