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Having your own community can help creators retain fans and minimize platform risks.
Original title: “Owned Community Matrix for Creators” (Owned Community Matrix for Creators)
Written by: Peter Yang
The creator’s own community platform will play an important role in the creator economy. To understand why, we have to explore our own community matrix together:
- Rented audience
- Own audience
- Rental community
- Own community
Most creators rent viewers from platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, and Twitter.
As a creator, renting an audience is risky. At any time, the platform can change the algorithm and harm your income. Worse still, you may be de-monetized (like YouTube’s avid Dobrik), banned (like Twitch’s DrDisrespect), or even shut down along with the platform (like India removes TikTok)
Despite these risks, creators still choose to build user groups on these platforms because of their large scale (such as YouTube), virality (such as TikTok, Clubhouse), and profit potential (such as OnlyFans). But creators are also beginning to realize that they should move viewers from these platforms to their own channels.
Our own user platform helps creators directly attract fans through open channels such as email and text messages.
Substack is the preferred private audience platform for using email. “Owning your email list” is one aspect of Substack’s appeal to writers, but it also makes the company vulnerable:
- Platforms such as ConverKit provide better email user targeting at a part of the cost (fixed fee vs 10% of revenue).
- Many top writers rent audiences on Twitter, that is, through Revue, use their own email list to add paid news.
Despite the fierce competition in email, SMS is still a new channel for creators (such as Community.com). The opening rate of text messages exceeds 90%, and it is more instantaneous than email. But the cost of sending text messages is higher, and the expectations of fans are also higher.
The disadvantage of proprietary audience platforms such as Substack and Community.com is that they are more like one-to-many broadcasts than many-to-many interactions. If there is no two-way dialogue with the creator, then fans will be tired of dealing with a large number of e-mails, text messages, and news information.
The audience platform allows creators to broadcast messages to fans (one-to-many), while community platforms allow creators and fans to talk to each other (many-to-many).
The community platform that creators often use is Discord. A typical Discord community has three types of users:
- Fans talk to each other and build relationships around common hobbies.
- The host assists the creator to enforce the rules of the fan community.
- Creators share new content and occasionally interact directly with fans.
Although the Discord community is branded with creators, 99% of interactions are discussions among fans (under the supervision of the host). Therefore, creators can attract and retain fans through Discord without having to do a lot of work on their own.
Although Discord is very popular, creators still rent communities on the platform because they can’t get emails or phone calls from fans. Discord can shut down the creator community, just like WallStreetBets has briefly experienced.
Other rental community platforms include Slack, Facebook Groups and Reddit. Technically, you can get fan emails from Slack and Facebook Groups, but the process is very cumbersome.
An own community has all the advantages of a rented community and allows creators to get fan emails and mobile phone numbers.
The closest I have seen to my own community is Circle, which can:
- Creators and fans can interact in the topic channel.
- Creators can export fan mailboxes.
- Creators can add their own brand output and embed their community on their website.
Circle is like its own community version of Reddit. Other startups (such as Geneva) are trying to build their own community version of Discord, but they have not yet received attention.
Notes for own communities
Having your own community can help creators retain fans and minimize platform risks. However, it also needs to be evaluated according to the creator’s overall hierarchy of needs.
- Creators need moderators to manage their own communities. Without a moderator, community discussions will quickly be flooded with spam and abuse.
- Creators need tools to develop communities and make money. An ideal self-owned community platform can provide creators with ways to attract more fans (such as referrals) and to make more money (such as dedicated channels for paid members).
- The existing self-owned community platform is not without risks. Before the creator finds a way to export fan email and contact information, any platform managed by a company or a centralized entity may ban the creator.
A new wave of decentralized community platforms solves problem #3. In future articles, we will discuss how encryption and decentralization will help creators truly own their communities.
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