dotLA Summit: Why Building Community Is More Important Than Gaining New Followers

Amrita Khalid
Amrita Khalid is a tech journalist based in Los Angeles, and has written for Quartz, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Inc. Magazine and number of other publications. She got her start in Washington, D.C., covering Congress for CQ-Roll Call. You can send tips or pitches to amrita@dot.la or reach out to her on Twitter at @askhalid.
dotLA Summit: Why Building Community Is More Important Than Gaining New Followers
Photo by David Ruano/ dot.LA

Earning a living from OnlyFans or Twitch is much harder than it looks.

Only a tiny fraction of creators earn enough to quit their full-time job. Not to mention that building a large enough following can take months or years — if it happens at all. Content creators must constantly adapt to platform changes, keep abreast of new trends and stay up to date with a demanding and capricious audience.

In a panel at the dot.LA Summit, Senior Editor Drew Grant spoke to leaders from the creator community to find out what challenges and opportunities lay in store for today’s content creators.


The main takeaway: Influencers are now creators and building a strong community of devoted, loyal fans is more important than gaining a million new followers or going viral. But what led the shift from “influencer” to “creator?” Evan Britton of celebrity discovery platform Famous Birthdays credited a TED Talk by Instagram head Adam Mosseri about how creators would lead the internet of the future.

“So there was a complete 180 from people on a platform that are just trying to do affiliate deals, to [...those people] being the core of the platform,” said Britton. While the term “influencer” and “creator” are interchangeable, the latter is used more often in a professional context.

To that end, brands have embraced the creator economy, and even “micro-influencers” with relatively small followings have landed paid opportunities and sponsorship deals.

“At every level, people are here to play and brands want to build their voice,” said Ashley Rudder, head of creator partnerships at ecommerce platform Whalar.

Rosie Nguyen, the co-founder of creator platform Fanhouse, said her own personal account had 500 or so paid subscribers.

“If I were to host an event, they would fill the room — like they would be there for me — because they were there every month,” Nguyen added. “And that to me is sometimes more valuable than the [...40,000 followers] on Instagram or the 7,000 followers on TikTok and all these other numbers.”

To put her point in perspective, Nguyen brought up this year’s VidCon, a conference for creators, as an example of quality meaning more than quantity: “There were speaker panels without a single attendee for creators with millions of followers on TikTok.”

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