Encourage user-generated content: Encouraging users to share their own AI art-related content helps create a sense of community and deepens engagement. We have a branded hashtag for our Daily Challenges on the site — #ncdailychallenge — and encourage members to share their own AI art creations using the hashtag. We also showcase the hottest or most popular creations on certain days of the week.

We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?

In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World,” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence.

As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Angus Russell, Founder/CEO of NightCafe Studio.

NightCafe Studio is an AI art generator and a community for AI art enthusiasts. The NightCafe website drives 2–3 million visitors each month, and the associated communities on Discord and Facebook have 100,000+ and 17,000+ members, respectively.

The NightCafe website focuses on fostering community with features like daily challenges, in-app chat rooms, and an active comment section on the site.

Thank you for making time to visit with us. Our readers would love to get to know NightCafe a bit better. How did you start the NightCafe community? And what got you to where you are today?

We saw an opportunity for community very early on. It was clear people feel a sense of pride when they create artwork they’re happy with, and they have the urge to share it with others. Sharing 100 pieces of art to your personal Facebook feed every day is sure to annoy your friends — but if you could share them with other AI art enthusiasts then it’s a different story.

With that in mind we made a very strategic first hire: our social media and community manager Cassandra Hood. Cassandra manages all of our social channels and online communities — not a small job. She also started the NightCafe Lounge Discord server which, now, has more than 100,000 members. Our Facebook group has about 17,000 members — and growing.

Cassandra has grown these channels by making sure they’re positive, welcoming communities, and fostering conversation and a sense of community by encouraging members to offer support, tips, and advice to each other.

What have you learned along that way that, now, most influences how you operate the NightCafe community?

Early on, we realized how important it is to foster a culture of collaboration and inclusivity. Unlike other online communities, we wanted to welcome all types of AI art generator users, not just our existing base.

A community is only as strong as its members. The more you encourage people to work together and feel valued, the more likely they are to contribute to that community — and that’s when growth happens.

We’re all searching for some good news. How is NightCafe using its platform to make a positive social impact?

We’re using AI and other technologies to promote accessibility and inclusion. For example, we’ve had many users reach out to tell us how grateful they are for the platform. NightCafe has enabled people with disabilities, for example, and people who may not have access to traditional art spaces a chance to create — to take part in something that’s incredibly new and exciting. It’s become a safe place for self-expression for everyone, and we’re so proud of that..

Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?

There is a lot to see on NightCafe. Roughly 150,000 NightCafe artists come to the site to create around 1 million pieces of AI artwork each day.

But that’s just one piece of the puzzle — because we define success based on how people feel when they use NightCafe. The rush and sense of accomplishment that happens when you create amazing artwork — that’s what brings people back time after time. And it’s a huge reason our community is thriving.

Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’

  1. Provide value to your audience: Creating valuable and relevant content is key to building an engaged community. This could include sharing interesting blog posts, creating visually appealing graphics or videos, hosting live Q&A sessions — anything. For example, we’ve created multiple carousel posts that showcase different AI art techniques. One of our favorites is the Do’s and Don’ts of AI art, one of our most-liked posts on Instagram.
  2. Humanize the brand. Building a personal connection with your followers creates a sense of community and loyalty. NightCafe has achieved this by hosting AMA — Ask Me Anything — events on our Discord server and Twitter, via Twitterspaces. These touchpoints give community members a chance to have a one to one conversation with the site developers.
  3. Highlight the community. When community members create something amazing, shout it from the rooftops! Show off your loyal followers and the cool stuff they do within your community. It can be inspiring and impactful for those who want more than just likes on the site.

We highlight the community by facilitating Artist Spotlight interviews via email and video, sharing real NightCafe artists’ personal stories or experiences related to AI art and the AI art community. And we’re excited to do even more in the future.

4. Encourage user-generated content: Encouraging users to share their own AI art-related content helps create a sense of community and deepens engagement. We have a branded hashtag for our Daily Challenges on the site — #ncdailychallenge — and encourage members to share their own AI art creations using the hashtag. We also showcase the hottest or most popular creations on certain days of the week.

5. Use data to inform your strategy: It’s important to use data to inform your social media strategy and measure your progress over time. This could mean tracking metrics like engagement rate, follower growth, and link clicks, or using real-time data to refine your approach and optimize your content. We tend to take a look at our link clicks often and focus on what types of posts bring users to the site. Usually, the posts with the most link clicks are those that direct readers to like a winning creation, for whatever contest we’re holding at the time. Our community loves to congratulate one another!

What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?

NightCafe does several things to create a greater sense of connection and community among our fans. First, we offer genuine tips and tricks that are often guarded within the AI art scene.This gives our community members really valuable knowledge they can use to enhance their creativity and prompt better artwork. That’s a win for everyone.

We’ve also created a close-knit Discord server where creators can engage with each other in a variety of ways, from leaving suggestions for the site to discussing new updates to even chatting about the daily challenge. Our community is very welcoming, and we are fortunate to have such a fantastic group of people at the heart of everything we do.

By offering a platform for open and constructive dialogue, we create an environment where our users feel like they are a part of the creative process, which ultimately fosters a sense of connection and belonging within our community.

If NightCafe could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest number of people, what would that be?

If NightCafe could inspire a movement it would be to promote art as a means of self-expression and healing.

Art has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health and well-being, and we believe that everyone should have access to these benefits. By promoting art as a tool for self-expression and healing, we could help improve the mental health and well-being of countless individuals around the world.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI,the creators of ChatGPT and DALL-E. I’d love to interrogate him on what’s coming next in the image generation field. He’s also one of the most knowledgeable people in the world regarding early-stage startups like ours, so I’m sure he’d have some great insights on what we could do better at NightCafe.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

First and foremost, we have a thriving and very active Discord server, the NightCafe Lounge. It’s the perfect place for creators to connect with one another, ask for feedback on their work, and share their own tips and tricks. We even have Discord-exclusive contests such as our most current one, the 100K Preset Palooza, a contest that challenges members to create new presets for the site. Our community is very welcoming, and we are always happy to see new faces joining the conversation.

Additionally, we have a very active Facebook group, NightCafe AI Art, where creators can share their artwork, discuss new site features, and get updates on the latest news from NightCafe. We have very active mods who love to support the community as well by offering impromptu challenges, guides, and valuable input on how to prompt engineer. Our Facebook community is a great place to connect with other artists and get inspired by our users’ incredible talent.

For users who prefer visual content, we also have an Instagram account @nightcafestudio where we post updates on new site features, share tips and tricks, and feature the winners from our contests. Instagram is a great place to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating our AI art, and to get inspired by the creativity of our community.

Find us by searching @nightcafestudio everywhere else!

Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!