Take good care of your people, and they will take care of you!
Cryptocurrency projects and ICOs are often scrutinized according to a number of factors. Whether it is the team’s track record, which developers are onboard, advisors, or simply the application of the product(s) and/or token, the community typically lies at the heart of the project. For good reason, too! Clearly, projects that devote a lot of time to engaging with their communities will stand out.
However, the projects that have seen even modest amounts of success have proven that their communities remain strong. The top 10 cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap all have huge amounts of supporters and ambassadors. Bitcointalk.org has (as of June 18, 2018) around 2.2 million members — advocates of Bitcoin that will defend the technology and continue to foster growth in the community.
For the sake of covering all bases, the most common channels for crypto communities are:
Excellent platform for managing a large community, and the constant flow of messages gives the community a live-chat sort of feel. Bots can also be integrated to prevent spam, and automate certain replies.
Most people are familiar with this social media platform — industry standard for communicating both important and relevant information in 140 characters or less.
Again, a platform everyone is familiar with. Facebook is great for communities, because it’s easy to start groups and manageable even at large amounts of traffic. Also, nearly everyone has an account on Facebook to begin with, so the entry barrier is much lower.
Slack is a platform that is relatively new. It’s perfect for organizing teams into channels for specific purposes, as well as allowing users to integrate a wide variety of “apps” — for example, Giphy for GIFs in the chat, or GoogleDrive for easier access to shared documents. However, security vulnerabilities exposed last year have caused companies to migrate to alternative channels, in order to protect their communities and teams.
Originally a platform for voice and text chat in gaming communities, Discord is being adopted by cryptocurrency and development communities. This platform has functions similar to Slack, in the sense that users can organize into channels, yet the added functionality of live, group voice-chat definitely adds a level efficiency that Slack lacks.
Reddit is a fantastic open-forum style, social media platform. Cryptocurrency projects use Reddit to organize relevant news, announcements, as well as allows users to engage in discussion, while moderators can keep the tone. The brilliant thing about Reddit is the ability to organize into sub-reddits where active users are either rewarded or ‘punished’ in a voting system, aptly named ‘karma’.
A news platform that uses Blockchain-based rewards for quality content. Steemit is where many blockchain projects make announcements, and post informative articles. Recently, many users have flocked to SteemIt as it facilitates the monetization of content, which naturally attracts users and content writers.
Looking at Communities
Taking a look at some major projects that are currently in the limelight can give us a rather good idea of how active their communities are, what they are doing well, and what sort of engagements they are doing to keep their communities growing. Without going into much detail about the technologies, we will briefly examine the communities of certain select projects, and how they engage with their followers.
Note: neither ARYZE or the author has any affiliation to any of these projects.
Ripple has come under all sorts of fire over the past year, but they definitely have a very active Telegram community (64,000 members). Among their official TG community, Ripple has a large number of moderators that make sure to post quality content, and generate discussions with XRP followers. Furthermore, they have a whopping 883,000 Twitter followers. On the alternative side of things, with over 18,000 members, XRP Chat engages with their community through competitions and giveaways, forum Tip Bots, and community managers that try to generate valuable discussions.
What is amazing is that the largest Ripple community isn’t actually associated with Ripple — similar to BitcoinTalk, it’s entirely community generated and regulated content. What this generates, is a discussion that is more valuable than if Ripple was attempting to influence the dialog; the result is a very honest and helpful environment where the more “Ripple Savvy” members can help those who are more unfamiliar with the tech.
When looking for an EOS forum, there are several options. However, it appears that the primary and largest channel for discussing EOS is their Telegram chat. With over 60,000 members on TG, this blockchain project is highly active in terms of community; in terms of contribution, the developer community around EOS is also impressive.
To grow and reward their community, EOS has in the past (and perhaps will continue) carried out giveaways to launch major implementations. EOS airdrops are rumored to occur regularly following their MainNet launch, giving additional economic incentive for token holders, as well as attracting new followers to the project.
Airdrops can be defined as the process whereby a cryptocurrency enterprise distributes cryptocurrency tokens to the wallets of some users free of charge. Airdrops are usually carried out by blockchain-based startups to bootstrap their cryptocurrency projects. Also, established blockchain-based enterprises like cryptocurrency exchange platforms and wallet services can also carry out airdrops as well. — Source: The Mission
One thing that IOTA does well, besides having enormous applicable potential for their technology, is a constant stream of attractive partnerships; keeping the community interested and hyped up is important. In terms of community engagement, IOTA is mostly active on Telegram (12,500 members) and Discord (18,000 members), with a growing Reddit community as well, where a strong team of moderators are readily available to answer any questions. IOTA is famous for its tightly-knit following. The supporters of IOTA are typically not in it for monetary gain, but more as firm believers of the technology. The IOTA community consists nearly exclusively of excited early adopters.
For a company that has a driving focus on developing IoT technology, perhaps it is no surprise that the community channels are effectively automated for answering questions. The IOTA Chat Bot has a wide variety of answers for a plethora of questions — however that may, in the long run, hurt the community, as it removes a certain human element that communities require. In the case of IOTA though, it may just be what is expected.
Values that Communities Appreciate
Communities, in general, have specific values that need to be communicated efficiently and cryptocurrency/blockchain communities are certainly no exception. Companies that place community and people as a value in their DNA also helps them address the needs of their followers and customers, as it becomes second nature to hear the concerns of their most loyal users. Just taking a look at GoPro — it’s no longer just a company, but a lifestyle community of users that share and contribute to the development of the brand.
Community members place great value on transparency from companies. Especially in the cryptocurrency space, where lack of clear regulation is an indirect invitation to fraudulent behavior — frequent project updates, full transparency, and an honest and open relationship with your community is the only way to quell the unease surrounding this “wild west” of a space.
The openness of a team and willingness to show a public face can make or break a project, as the cryptocurrency market is quick to call “scam” if something seems off. Once that cat is out of the bag, so to speak, companies have to work very hard to offset that distrust.
Activating a community to participate in the marketing and development of a project is also a huge part of growing and maintaining the following. Some digital token companies choose to Airdrop tokens, in order to provide an incentive for holding the tokens in the first place, while others choose to do Bounty Campaigns. These are campaigns that ask followers to do certain tasks, in exchange for tokens.
For example, certain bounties may ask users to find security loopholes and flaws in the software, which not only benefits the company tremendously but also attracts a certain breed of technologically aware followers. However, many companies turn to external agencies (like AmaZix, for example) to manage engagement campaigns, as they can run up costs for the company, in terms of time, administration, and marketing costs.
Furthermore, as we discussed in the case of IOTA, partnering with well-known advisors, companies, and celebrities can engage the community tremendously by building hype and driving content creation. Investor endorsements are also a great way of engaging communities by establishing precedent and spurring discussions.
Giving the community a sense that they are well taken care of, and that their concerns are heard and forwarded to appropriate parties, is essential in building a strong community. While simple questions can often be answered by other users, having a community manager or members of the team to address questions in a timely manner helps alleviate concerns about the professionalism of the team — at the same time, this method also makes the community feel like they are heard and part of the success of the project. This all ties into the true strengths of the community, which will be discussed below.
“…research shows that having community success managers, who are responsible for responding to requests & questions, managing content, and making sure that participants are closely aligned with the goals and objectives of the project, is a major key to growing a digital community and having a successful project.”— Source: Cyberius
Strength in Numbers
Despite up-front costs that are needed for a long-term community-building strategy, the rewards of having a strong community are tremendous. Especially when launching ICOs, blockchain projects need to look to their community as an indicator of success in their ICO. For a number of reasons:
- Your community is your front-line of defense. Keeping your community informed is integral to success, as they will be the first people to defend you against Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
- As an element of keeping your community informed, it’s also worth noting that they will likely be the first to test your product. This gives you a great idea of product validation and is the first step in ensuring product-market fit. Your community will also be the first to recommend new features and spot bugs, so it’s important to keep the line open to them.
- Publicity! Your community is the easiest way to reach a wider audience. These are your ambassadors that (if you take good care of them) will spread your material and hype up your company. If your community adopts a culture of sharing every announcement and positive news about your company to the rest of the online/offline world, you’re on the right track!
- Many ICO investors will take a look at your community as an indicator of success and traction. While your team and advisory board play a huge role in the decision-making process, it’s a strong following that reinforces credibility. Be aware that it is quality, and not quantity, that matters here, though.
- Last, but certainly not least, your community is often the early contributors to your project. These are the investors that have been following for a long time and have backed you (if not with money, then with time and support). Needless to say, every little bit helps, and if you’re not appreciative of the people who have believed in you from the beginning, it’s bad karma! Throw a pizza party, give out free stickers, etc.— these people have helped your project tremendously!
Community is Key
“Once a critical mass of economic activity has been established in a location, people will gravitate to that location…” — Daniel Sturm
Sometimes, just having a large community will be enough to cause it to grow, as those numbers are an indicator of professionalism and strength, right?
Superior technology may play a role, but in the crypto space, having an active community is such an indicator of success, that it is the primary boasting point of many Blockchain founders.
However, community often creates a positive feedback loop. If the community experience has been positive, members will likely recommend the project to others. Furthermore, in many open-source cases (such as Bitcoin and Ethereum) the community itself begins to build upon the technology, and eventually “become” an integral part of the technical development.
In conclusion, companies choosing to focus on community have a better chance at becoming successful. These companies that devote early time and resources to building support in that area will gain the advantage of knowing their first customers thoroughly, as well as having the traction necessary to gain a broader audience. Community managers are, in most cases, necessary for addressing the needs of your following, and will need to think creatively of campaigns that activate your community and make them feel appreciated.