SXSW – South by Southwest

Amanda Schneider
March 13, 2023 – 20:37

The word community has several meanings. According to Michaelis’ dictionary, it can range from “a group of people who live together and whose material resources belong to all”, to “any group of individuals linked by common interests who often associate or live together”. Therefore, a community can form around a brand, cause or influencer.

This notion led to the discussion of several talks at South by Southwest 2023. The panel “The New Business Imperative: Building Community,” for example, highlighted how community is the future of commerce and how brands need to create experiences and products that offer human connection.

Jill Manoff, Editor-in-Chief of Glossy Media, spoke with Manish Chandra, Founder and CEO of Poshmark, about the power of brand communities (Credit: Amanda Schnaider)

“If you look at retail itself, a lot of communities are formed around retail. But that kind of got lost in the online world. So we’re trying to bring back that sense of community,” said Manish Chandra, founder and CEO of Poshmark, a social platform for buying and selling new and used products, which has a community of more than 100 million people.

Understanding consumer requirements is key to building this community. “It is important to know what the customer wants and adapt to it. And for us, the focus was on simplicity and community,” revealed the CEO. In his opinion, when a brand builds a partnership with its customers, it must understand how to establish a relationship lasting decades.

In addition, knowing where people are in your community is also very important for brands that want to get closer to their consumers. “You have to be where the people are. So if people on your platform are engaged in a certain way, you need to promote the community there. If people are on a chat platform or social media, you have to be there and encourage people to connect,” explained Chandra. Poshmark, for example, started to form a community on Discord, where its users were.

common purpose

A common purpose. This is what unites the community, according to Poshmark’s CEO. “If you’re thinking about creating a common purpose for a community, is it about what’s the main thing the community does?” In the case of Poshmark, the community turns their wardrobe into content and sells it.

Besides being where the community is and finding common purpose with it, other initiatives can further empower this group of people. “We create physical events and that allows the community to grow and reach different spaces,” concluded the CEO.

One such event is PoshFest, an annual fashion and entrepreneurship conference that brings the community together to connect, learn and share personal experiences. For Chandra, the key to these events is authenticity, as they are organic and grow out of the community itself.

community of creators

Community is also a key word for content creators. In fact, the foundation of the creative economy is community. A creator needs his community to exist, both followers and other creators who are with him to share experiences.

Kaya Yurieff, reporter for The Information, moderated a panel between Monica Khan, community manager at Spotter, and creators Coby Cotton and Kinigro Deon (by Amanda Schnaider)

During the “Fueling the Creator Economy by Building Community” panel, alongside creators Coby Cotton and Kinigra Deon, Monica Khan, Head of Community at Spotter – a company that helps creators grow their YouTube channels by offering them an investment in exchange for future ad revenue from of your streams – she said she was surprised to find that many content creators don’t talk to each other.

For Monica, it is important that creators recognize how much can be learned in just one conversation with peers or experts. “MrBeast, for example, said that at the beginning of his journey, he saw an opportunity to create a very small community with other creators, where they regularly discussed their lessons and mistakes, in addition to being really vulnerable with each other.”

In addition to working with each creator individually, Spotter, like Poshmark, promotes events that bring creators together in the community. “We have created a kind of sanctuary. A multi-day event where creators can be themselves with each other. To learn from each other and be inspired.” For this event, the company partnered with Colin and Samir, creators known for helping their peers, who were also at SXSW 2023.

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