Solution-minded, accessibility, and community: content creators get real in Dallas’s Partnerships IRL event in Dallas sparked interesting conversations among creators, brands, and other industry experts about the power of online communities. See what they discussed. 

Partnerships in dallas
Olivia Savage
Olivia Savage
Senior Marketing Strategist, Creator Growth and Engagement
Read time: 5 mins

High above the Downtown Dallas cityscape, a night of electrifying connections unfolded at the trendy Waterproof bar, nestled on the nineteenth floor of the iconic Statler hotel. But the undeniable sense of camaraderie and community among the guests truly set the night apart. 

Conversations flowed, ideas exchanged, and everyone was there to celebrate the magic of creator partnerships. This happened at none other than’s Partnerships IRL event on the first weekend in October. This exclusive pop-up event brought brands, creators, and other industry experts together to network and discuss the importance of community-building. 

To kick off the night, I led a panel discussion about the power of online communities with midsize fashion megawatt creator Taryn Hicks and Becca Bahrke, CEO at Illuminate Social. Brands and creators participated in a Q&A following the panel, bringing questions about how to build a tight-knit community, stay authentic when working with brands, and give your followers the connectivity they crave. 


The event’s panel discussion featured midsize fashion creator Taryn Hicks, Illuminate Social CEO Becca Bahrke, and’s Sr. Product Marketing Manager Olivia Savage. 

1. Authenticity creates loyal online communities

Today’s virtual world often feels lonely. Finding your people online generates a sense of togetherness that’s comforting. When people “get you,” you feel connected—a vital part of mental health and wellbeing. 

For example, Taryn has openly discussed her mental health struggles on social to connect with followers who face similar challenges. Bravely revealing these vulnerable moments shows her audience that they’re all in it together, strengthening their bond.   

Creators can nurture community by: 

  • Helping followers solve problems
  • Starting meaningful conversations among followers
  • Being open and telling powerful personal stories

Building these communities makes you more attractive to brands because it fosters loyalty and increases buyer intent. Followers know you have their backs, making your brand recs even more powerful. 

Key takeaway

2. Creators sell solutions—not products

Always prioritize your audience when engaging with brands, whether you have 1,000 or one million followers. Choose brands that fit your community’s needs, wants, and values. 

Before promoting a product, ask:

  • Will it make my followers’ lives better?
  • Does it solve problems that my audience faces?
  • Does it align with what our community stands for? 

You can find the answers to these questions by asking your community and listening to their feedback.

Nurturing a sense of authenticity with your audience is like building a Jenga tower—delicate but rewarding. Whenever you collab with the wrong brand, you remove a foundational block. If you keep eroding the trust you’ve built, the tower will fall.

Turning down partnership opportunities is tricky—especially if you’re just starting to monetize your content. But picking brands wisely helps maintain the trust you’ve built.

collabing with brands

3. Keep accessibility in mind when vetting brands

Creators that go viral fast sometimes have trouble staying relatable. If your content blows up and you bring in more income, you may promote more expensive products—or more products in general. 

The problem? Your audience isn’t in the same boat. 

Let’s say you’re a creator who focuses on affordable decorating hacks. Promoting high-end interior design brands in your content probably doesn’t make sense—even if your financial situation has changed. 

Consider your audience’s buying habits and their relationship with money. Ask yourself:

  • What financial means does my audience have? 
  • Does my audience care about sustainability?
  • Are my followers conscious consumers?

These factors can be part of your secret sauce for finding brands to team up with.

how the community feels

Build a strong community and reap the rewards

Creators strike gold when they manage to build a robust online community. It creates a strong bond with the followers who love you while delivering value to the brands you work with.

Winning brand partnerships are all about investing in the relationship while staying aligned with your audience. The more you understand and engage with your community, the greater your chances of success.


See if there’s an upcoming event in your area, or learn more about what it takes to forge strong partnerships: 

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