Getting started with building an audience in the creator economy

How can you anticipate the content people want before they want it? How do you figure out where your audience lives online and what they like? What is a creator, after all?

At TechCrunch Disrupt 2021, we were joined by Julia Munslow, special projects editor at Yahoo News, Alexis Gay, comedian and host of Non-Technical Podcast, and Sushma Dwivedi, who leads communications and brand marketing at Daily Harvest. All three of our speakers come at the challenge of building a brand online from different angles, and they all had valuable perspectives to share for navigating a social media landscape that has very high expectations from anyone creating content in 2021.

Whether you’re an independent creator or a company, you need to think about how to connect with the audience that’s right for you before dipping your toes into brand building. With more platforms than ever, and more savvy content perpetually upping the social game, it’s worth remembering that building your audience doesn’t just mean accumulating a sky high follower count.

“It doesn’t really help anybody to try and be everything to everyone at any size of brand, no matter how big or small,” Dwivedi said. “… When you’re really looking to galvanize a base, and build some momentum amongst a dedicated base of customers, it serves you to really think about who they are. What do they need? Where are they and how on those platforms are they being communicated to?”

Before you can study an audience you want to reach, you have to figure out where they live online. And as new social platforms and products emerge, that process can require quite a bit of trial and error. For Daily Harvest, TikTok was a successful experiment that continues to pay off, but not all experiments will work out — and according to Dwivedi, that’s just fine. Daily Harvest dipped a toe into Clubhouse when the social audio app took off, but because of the visual nature of its brand and audience, it wasn’t a perfect fit.