Shared experiences—more than interests, geographies or professions—spur the formation of modern-day communities, or tribes. And millennials, often fueled by social networks, are quickest to join these tribes, according to new research from Brodeur Partners, which examines 70 brands, five industries, six social networks and 1,020 American consumers surveyed online.

Among the findings in Brodeur’s new research:

  • Tribes typically form around shared experiences and interests such as food, politics, the arts, faith, health, fitness, sports, fashion and money.
  • The strongest tribes (excluding immediate family) are those based in experiences such as military or volunteer service.
  • The younger you are, the more likely that tribes matter in your life.
  • Eager to form tribes, millennials are more optimistic than older generations. For example, they are more likely to predict improvement in the economy, environment, education, health care, discrimination and terrorism.
  • Brands attract tribes, and tribes find brands. Some brands, however, transcend tribes.
  • Social networks play a huge role in “tribal” culture. For millennials, social networks are actually stronger tribe catalysts than real-world interactions.
  • There are gender and ethnic nuances in tribes’ interests and social network use.

“What makes tribes especially relevant today is the proliferation of brands, the pervasiveness of anxiety in the culture, and the immediacy with which people can come together around shared interests and experiences,” says Brodeur CEO Andy Coville (pictured), author of Relevance: The Power to Change Minds and Behavior and Stay Ahead of the Competition. “Tribes offer friendship, fun and learning at a time when people are yearning for community.”

Brodeur’s research yielded insights around specific brands and their appeal. For example, fans of Coca-Cola are more 17% more likely than the average consumer to have friends who share their tastes in fashion, and are 14% more likely to value friendships made through an artistic activity or group.

Facebook emerged as the king of tribe formation. Nearly all respondents said the relationships they are making through this network are growing in importance in their lives. Instagram, however, is ascending in importance, showing significant relevance for women, millennials (18-34) and Gen Xers (35-54).

“Tribes offer a huge opportunity for brands, products, candidates and causes,” said Jerry Johnson, a partner at Brodeur Partners, who led the research. “Marketers now need to figure out how to create tribes, attract existing ones, influence them and guide them. This research is a first step in that direction.”