Sean Pattwell is the founder and CEO of CW8 Communications
Despite the cryptocurrency market downturn, the general excitement about the pace of development and direction of the technology hasn’t abated as the Web3 phenomenon continues to dominate headlines. Digital identity startup Unstoppable Domains is one of the most recent focal points after it became the latest unicorn to join over 1,000 others in the crypto stable that have successfully reached the $1 billion valuation milestone.
In the decentralised world of Web3, success is not just about having a great product that can convince investors. Decentralised projects succeed or fail based on the strength of their communities. The remarkable resilience of assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum derives from the vast global base of support from their respective communities, who are tireless in their dedication to keeping the network secure and operational – even if they do not always agree on exactly how that should be achieved.
Similarly, many of the most successful applications operating on decentralised blockchain infrastructure are operating on token-based decentralised governance or DAOs. The DAO model also derives strength from having governance participation spread over a wide group, preventing any one party from gaining outsize influence. The success of NFT projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club can be almost 100 per cent attributed to effective community management.
So any entrepreneur or developer seeking success in the Web3 world needs to recognise that community is king. A project’s community members are its most loyal users and proponents. They are also a source of strength and resilience.
However, building, managing, and engaging a large community comes with its own set of challenges. Here we share some tips that can help ensure your community-building efforts get maximum return on investment.
1. Go where the Web3 set already are
Web3 communities have already settled on their chosen platforms of choice, so building a community means meeting supporters where they are. Twitter and Telegram are must-haves for announcements and open group discussions, but Discord has become the main platform of choice for project leads who want the most flexibility in how they manage their community.
Discord is widely accepted to offer the best of all worlds, enabling you to set up public or private communities like Telegram, but with the organisation of Slack’s channels to keep conversations on-topic. However, it is the voice and video chat features that set Discord apart, allowing users to hang out in audio or video chat rooms where they can drop in and out of the conversation as they please.
2. Be clear about your intentions
When setting up your Discord and other community channels, make sure you are clear about your own intentions and that of the project. You should think of your channels as a core part of your brand – as much an asset as your website or logo.
When newcomers arrive, they should be able to easily find the information by navigating your channel titles and pinned posts. Include relevant links to your website, project documentation, or introductory blog posts or videos so people have the opportunity to find out as much as they can.
Remember that you only have one chance to make a good impression, and your channel should convey your project’s overarching goals and long-term commitments.
3. Set boundaries
Communities quickly adopt cultural norms that can be difficult to change once embedded, so it is essential to set clear boundaries about what constitutes acceptable behaviour from the outset. Many projects are understandably strict about price talk; others discourage discussion of unrelated projects, while almost all have a basic code of conduct covering behaviours like hate speech or harassment. Be explicit about which actions can result in mutes or bans and ensure infractions are dealt with quickly and consistently.
Thankfully, much of the basic work involved in this can be enabled with bots. MEE6 is one of the best-known for Discord, allowing you to automate welcome messages and automatically block users that break rules like posting ads or spam content, keeping the community generally clean of violations. Bots can also be configured to issue “strikes” as warnings of bad behaviour.
Setting clear boundaries for voice and video interactions is even more critical, as anyone running a public room on Discord will quickly discover. Here, boundaries help people understand what to expect – for instance, whether the conversation may contain adult discussions or anything that may require a trigger warning.
As communities become larger, disputes can become more frequent, and violations of rules or norms are often too nuanced for a bot to handle. Many projects hire dedicated community managers who moderate content on a more human level and play an essential role in steering discussions, diffusing conflict, and generally providing the presence of someone in authority.
4. Cross-pollinate with other communities
One great way to scale up your community and strengthen your project’s role in the ecosystem is to establish partnerships and collaborations that help cross-pollinate Web3 communities. For instance, jointly hosting an online event like a panel discussion or an AMA with founders of a related project or working with influencers in the digital asset space to help your project gain exposure to their followers.
Attending virtual or in-person events dedicated to Web3 or digital assets is also a great way to get your project in front of other communities.
5. Leverage your community
Now that you have built a thriving community, it is time to start leveraging it! Look at your project’s goals and consider how the community can help you achieve them. Most often and most simply, this will involve spreading the word. However, make the call to action as explicit as possible. Whether it is retweeting or sharing social media content to reach larger audiences, giving reviews or feedback as social proof, testing out new features before they go live – whatever the project needs, involve the community wherever possible.
Affiliate or referral programmes are another way that many projects leverage their community, offering rewards for those who sign up authentic referrals.
However, you can be as creative as you like. In Web3, success can come from the most unexpected places, but when it does arise, there is always one common factor – a large, buzzing, and engaged community.