Not all creators need to foster community

May 13, 2024
Emmy Liederman
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I was at a marketing conference last month and heard a panelist tell the crowd that “Creators don’t only have an audience, they’ve built a community.” 

This sounds valuable to advertisers but it puts creators at a disadvantage if they haven’t focused on building a community. I was about to raise my hand when another panelist piped up and responded with an important question: “What makes you think all creators have built a community?”

Building audiences has always been a lucrative endeavor. It’s the reason why the amount brands spend on influencer marketing keeps rising. Community is powerful on its own, too. Conferences and online memberships are thriving businesses. This begs the question, do all creators need to build community? 

Building an audience and building a community requires different skill sets. One isn’t better than the other. Our world needs both—those who entertain or educate audiences and those who create community. 

We need entertainment and community to live a balanced life. The world needs creators who will entertain audiences and creators who will give audiences a space to meet like-minded people. 

Again, not every creator doesn’t need to build community. Both paths can lead to immense wealth. As a creator, the important thing is to remember your ‘why’: why are you creating content? 

Just look at two very different but equally successful creators. 

Khaby Lame has built a massive audience on TikTok, not a community. That doesn’t affect his ability to be successful or positively impact the world. When he responds to comments on TikTok he isn’t building a community. He’s interacting with the audience. He’ll still get massive brand deals, be featured in commercials, and offer comedic relief when we watch his videos. 

On the other hand, Yes Theory has an audience but is actively building a community. They host meetups all over the world. Their content is about bringing people together and pushing them past their comfort zone. People have found their best friends or significant others through the channel. Building a community around a lifestyle is their why.

Khaby Lame and Yes Theory are taking different approaches, but one isn’t better than another. Each identified their why, and are building their voice to reinforce it.  

It might feel like creators who have a community are more valuable than those who don’t, but remember these two things:  

  1. Advertising was built on the premise that you can reach audiences and brands are willing to pay for that access. That business model isn’t going away anytime soon. Marketers always need to find new ways to build their brands. Working with creators will continue to be an important marketing strategy. 
  1. Just because you have the option to build community doesn’t mean you have to. Define your why and let that guide your actions

Danny Desatnik is creator initiatives manager at #paid. He hosts the Creator Culture podcast.

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