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Creator Economy

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The Art of Connection: Building an Authentic Online Creator Community

Cam Mulvey

April 3, 2023

Balancing joy and connection, misinformation and clickbait, interactions and fatigue, social media is a double (or triple) edged sword. While it offers unprecedented connectivity, it has also given rise to a growing sense of fatigue and dissatisfaction. As the allure of scrolling aimlessly through endless posts begins to fade, a new phenomenon is emerging - the rise of online communities.

The quest for deeper connections, meaningful conversations, and a sense of belonging has led many to venture beyond the noise and seek solace in a community. A recent study found that over a third of social media users, fed up with bots, clickbait, and misinformation, are actively seeking more meaningful conversations and they’re migrating to communities to achieve this. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that communities provide the best avenue for people to connect on social media. Membership alone, with the implication that everyone will return, brings a longer-term focus. In a community, people can’t abandon a discussion as easily as a Twitter thread because they’ll return to the exact same conversation the next day. 

The benefits of online communities 

  • Encourage participation: In a thriving community, participation becomes contagious, sparking a collective momentum that empowers, encourages, and celebrates individuals who contribute, engage, and shape the community.   
  • Shared interest: Communities serve as natural gathering grounds, where people with a shared interest converge, forging connections that ignite sparks of creativity, collaboration, and mutual growth. In fact, 66% of social media users use online communities to “connect with people who have similar interests.” 
  • Drive a sense of belonging: Online communities are a connective thread, empowering individuals to find their place, their tribe, and a deep sense of belonging. 
  • Supportive by nature: When individuals become members of a community, their focus extends beyond immediate gratification, nurturing a sense of loyalty and dedication that breeds a culture of collective support toward a shared vision. 
  • More meaningful conversations: In the sanctuary of online communities, conversations transcend noise and triviality embracing depth, authenticity, shared wisdom. 

Content Creator Communities 

In the age of the influencer, content creators are uniquely positioned to build communities, as they possess the power to build communities around their content. With a large and engaged audience already established, content creators have a valuable asset—a shared common interest. Their content resonates with individuals who are passionate about their niche, forging a connection based on mutual enthusiasm. Leveraging their influence, content creators can foster an environment that encourages interaction, collaboration, and dialogue among their followers. 

By actively engaging with their audience, listening to their feedback, and nurturing a sense of belonging, content creators have the ability to transform their following into a thriving community. Through shared experiences and a genuine sense of connection, these communities form around the creator's content, becoming vibrant spaces where like-minded individuals come together to learn, share, and support one another. 

However, community can be a bit of a misnomer. For this article, we’re assuming that your community includes easy methods for your members to interact with each other–the driving force behind collective support. Therefore, we’ve excluded platforms like Patreon and YouTube, where the overwhelming majority of the content is delivered in a unidirectionally, from the creator to members en masse, with limited further communication. 

Best platform for content creators

So what’s the best platform for creators? Well, that depends on the creator. 

In reality, there is no best platform for all creators. Instead, a creator must actively consider their goals and how platforms align with those goals. Therefore, we’ll give you the tools to uncover your goals and evaluate community platforms.  

When it comes to goal-setting, it’s important to be as specific as possible. If you’re part of the 83% of creators that are prioritizing community, that’s a great start! But we’ll still need to drill down deeper. 

A young content creator feels empowered by her authentic community because she took time to consider her goals

Asking yourself these questions will help you uncover which platform is truly the best for your community. With an articulate understanding of your own goals, you can then evaluate platforms within that context. 

  • What does the creator pay for the platform? (More on this below.) 
  • What do members pay? Who collects that payment, you or the platform? 
  • Where are you currently with your content? 
  • Do you have time to change the way you produce content? Some platforms (like courses and newsletters) introduce an entirely new way of producing content, which may require a learning curve 
  • What other creators are on the platform? A career development creator might feel out of place on OnlyFans, for example. 
  • How does the platform make your community discoverable, if at all? Do you even want your community to be discovered? 
  • Will the platform help you moderate the community? Will it give you insights into your community’s engagement? 

Free online community platforms

Free online community platforms can be a great way to connect. Platforms like Discord allow you to create a community for free and your users can join for no cost. 

Premium online community platforms

Premium online community platforms typically allow you to charge your members for access to the community.  Pricing can play a differentiating role in community platforms. Some platforms, such as Sute, are free for creators to get started and take a platform fee from your future earnings. Other platforms, like MightyNetworks or Circle, charge you upfront to launch your community at a fixed monthly rate each month. Be careful, as these platforms also often include an additional percentage charge, so consult with the platform before jumpstarting your community.  

At Sute, we’re building communities committed to entrepreneurship, career development, and personal finance. We’re currently taking applications from the best creators in these fields. If that describes you, make sure you apply now to kickoff your community with us!