Last year when Naval Ravikant said everyone would eventually be in the creator economy, many might’ve wondered how. And to what extent. But right now, everyone is invested in the internet's future — in fact, Statista states there were about five billion internet users worldwide as of April 2022, amounting to 63 per cent of the global population. We're all either creating or supporting those who create. HubSpot’s study says the global influencer marketing industry is predicted to surpass $16B in 2022 — thanks to that, independent content creators and communities now act and think like publishers. Not just corporates.

With content creators and communities creating, owning, and operating like conventional businesses, community-led content or user-generated content will emerge as the future. Community-led companies are also raising significant funding, so it’s already a tried-and-tested win.

Let’s Decode Basics: What’s Community-Led Content?

In simple terms, it’s content driven by a community of users who’re super invested in your product. A significant chunk of content within the community is run by its members. In the past, we’ve seen several brands evolve from advertising-led to community-led development — a testimony that a brand has truly arrived. For instance, Lululemon, MongoDB, Product Hunt, and Ripen were able to leverage content from their communities. 💯

How Pawan Rochwani (Community Lead, Events & Partnerships at Pepper Content) defines a community

With communities creating a flywheel effect, it’s hard to ignore their power in the current economy. Adding to that, UGC (or even influencer-generated community) is more realistic and reliable because an average user trusts a community over polished and popular advertorials.

Let’s take a look at this stat! 👇🏼

Source: Consumer Acquisition by Brain Labs

Going beyond advertisements or product endorsements, successful communities also solve challenges. The learning curve is deep-rooted and enduring. I think of it as a ground where you can seek feedback for your work, learn something new from the community members — content that may not be available outside that very community. Which is why community-led content is specific, exclusive, and not vanity-based. Yeah, yeah, no fishing for likes or follows.

Read: Why Community-Led Product Development Wins

No Better Time for Community Building

We’ve come a really long way from treating followers as fans to fostering long-term relationships with subscribers. Treating community as fellow content creators is the new mindset shift. Let’s take Product Folks, for instance, which is entirely volunteer-driven. Hundreds of product managers and enthusiasts come together thanks to a common interest. Remember those times when you could hang out with the fans of your favourite star and manifest blockbuster hits? It’s a lot like that but more purposeful.

Some active communities also include r/startups, 10K Designers, Tamilpreneur, and The Builder’s Club.

The Future of Community-Led Content

A study by M2 Technology Group states that about 93 per cent of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision, and on an average, sites with featured UGC have a 20 per cent boost in return visitors and up to a 90 per cent increase in time spent on site. In fact, that’s what makes Stumble Studio special — this business calls itself India’s first search engine to discover D2C brands, and instead of collaborating with influencers or celebrities, Stumble is leveraging its community. I signed up for their community reviews and received a box of snacks, condiments, essentials, and wellness products. Their ask is quite straightforward — experience their curation of brands and write honest reviews. I guess it’s fair enough to say community is the driving force behind their brand.

That right there is a shift: are we slowly drifting away from native advertising to authentic, candid, and perhaps a chaotic-form of community content?

While you’re at it, also watch this video for The Ultimate Community-Led Growth Playbook.

Also read: Creator Economy Trends Worth Looking Out For

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