One year and ten months ago, I accepted a freelance gig for an unknown cryptocurrency startup called The Divi Project. It was in a pre-whitepaper state, and I was tasked with setting up a WordPress site that had to include the particle.js library. You know, the one with all the little connected particles slowly moving around. A trend that quickly became redundant and, to some degree, laughable.
A few months later I was a fully integrated member of the founding team and even making decisions on what would go into the final whitepaper. The site was rebuilt from scratch to take on a much more professional look and feel, and we started raising money through a token sale (this was back before the term ICO was grounds for banishment from the crypto conversation). The pre-funded excitement was palpable and the hours were long but one thing was for sure, we would get nowhere without an active, dedicated community. At that time, I took it upon myself to build our community and have been committed to the task ever since (with a lot of help from others, of course).
In this article, I will give some insight into my outlook on the community as it applies to the cryptocurrency industry, how it should be managed and maintained, and some tools and tips for how you can successfully manage your community.
What is community?
Community is far more than a collection of people adding up to a large number. In fact, some of the largest communities in the space are the most toxic by far. A real community is a collective of thought that breeds a particular culture that is open to anyone willing to open their mind to said culture. This is not to be confused with a tribe or cult. While both of those mentioned above certainly exist within crypto, social constructs of cultish or tribalistic nature should not be the goal.
Tribalism leads to maximalism, which leads to exclusion, which leads to the reinstatement of the same status quo crypto is being built to defy, only driven by different people. We must do everything we can to avoid this outcome, and it all starts with how community leaders are handling their respective groups.
How community leaders can be the change
It is crucial that project leaders and community managers take a holistic approach to building an alliance with their base. Buying followers, creating baseless incentives, and the like all encourage the wrong people to engage with the brand and the dedicated members of the community will become discouraged by the inauthenticity that is allowed to propagate as a result. Instead, organic methods can be used to ensure that newcomers and OGs alike feel like a welcome part of the population.
Be a human
As a community manager, it’s essential to recognize the fact that you are, in fact, a human being. I know this probably seems obvious, but it’s easy to fall into patterns that change the way you behave, the way the community views you, and ultimately the culture that forms as a result of your actions.
Here are some tips for remaining human against all the odds:
Remember that you are not a robot
Even though you are managing a worldwide network of individuals who may be up at any hour of the day due to timezone differences, you are not a robot who can be accessible at all hours. Take time for yourself, put your phone on do not disturb mode, and most importantly, SLEEP. We will talk about how to keep your community engaged 24/7 a little later.
Don’t read from a script
While you want to provide a high level of engagement by providing content of value, it’s important to remember that you are not a corporate cog or customer service rep. You should respond to questions, comments, and concerns like an average person would. Using canned responses is fine, but add them to a pinned message rather than spouting off the same rhetoric ad nauseam.
Accept that you have real emotions
A high level of patience is highly recommended if you are going to lead a crypto community, and it’s vital that you always engage with everyone with a sense of professionalism. That said, there’s nothing wrong with admitting your humanity to an aggressor and approaching the situation like a person would in the real world. People have bad days, lack sleep, or have other issues that everyone else deals within the real world. If you’re having trouble handling an aggressive member of the community, and their claims are baseless or unfounded, mute them, take them to a private chat, or remove yourself from the equation until you can handle the situation appropriately.
Most importantly, never feed into FUD or trolling, remind yourself that you are in control of the community, and respond in kind. We’ll talk more about dealing with FUD in a bit.
Admit your faults
Much like you have to accept that you are not a Vulcan with no emotions, you must also admit that you are not always right in every situation. At times, you may encounter issues with the business that bleed out into the community. This will cause FUD and not the unfounded kind.
Everyone handles uncertainty with their investments differently. Some people will address the situation with a well-worded, totally justified question directed at a team member or administrator, while others will blatantly drop “PROJECT DEAD, GOING TO 0 SOON, NO MOON” comments all over your social media channels.
Remind yourself that both methods of handling the situation are okay, but the way you treat them will make the difference in whether investors retain confidence in your business.
The first thing any good community manager, project team member, or admin representing the product should do is admit that you are wrong. Admission of guilt is the most effective diffuser of accusation that I have ever seen.
Once you’ve admitted that you (or the team) have made a mistake, offer solutions and in what time frame you expect those solutions to be implemented. Provide frequent updates on the implementation of this solution across all your channels, and be sure that the individual(s) who brought the issue to your attention are directly addressed when the problem is resolved.
Enlist a strong admin team
To maintain order and sustain the culture you are aiming to build within the community, it’s critical that you enlist dedicated individuals who share the same values as the team. Ideal candidates include people who have been with you since before you were fully funded, folks who have shown dedication through difficult times, individuals who hold more substantial amounts of your coin or token (although the latter candidate comes with their own set of caveats), and especially those who have added value to the project over time.
It also helps to have admins on every corner of the planet so that the conversation can continue throughout the hours you are unavailable, sleeping, or otherwise preoccupied. Covering multiple time zones will encourage new community members because they will see that there is an active community for them to engage with, no matter when they choose to access it.
Keep it positive, clean, and spam free
The Blockchain industry is heavily dominated by white males, especially within the Cryptocurrency niche but there are still thousands of women, people of color, and dozens of different cultures engaging with your product through various channels daily. It’s up to you to ensure that everyone feels included.
Start by publishing a set of well thought out community guidelines that cast a wide net over the potential issues that may come from bringing so many people together. Have a look at ours, if you need some inspiration.
Further, sweeping the chat of misogynistic, racist, or otherwise offensive behavior is paramount to cultivating a fellowship amongst members of the community.
You will notice that, as you lay down rules and deter negative sentiment towards others, the rest of the community will follow suit. Before long, you won’t need to say anything, as the community will “police” your various channels for you.
While some human interaction is required to create and maintain the culture, spam, bots, pump & dump promoters, and other unwanted bad actors present their own set of risks. Thankfully, much of this cleanup can be automated.
Here are some tools that can help you keep spam and unwanted behavior out of your Telegram channel:
Shieldy will deter any bots who enter your chat by requiring that they send a message or click a button.
Guard Bot will warn and ban any repeat spammers and can be used as an admin tool to ban, mute, promote, and "warn" users, among other things.
If you are successful in building an active community, you will even see custom solutions rolling out from developers who want to contribute.
Building the community with no budget
No budget? No problem! Cryptocurrency is inherently built on the network effect, so there’s no reason you should ever need to shell out large sums of actual money to grow yours! Of course, this is much easier said than done. I will provide some of the best practices I have learned throughout the last couple of years while we grew the Divi Project community from the ground up.
Use your coin or token as an incentive
You launched a blockchain, you mine or mint to earn rewards, and your coins have value. So use the coins for their most apparent use-case, currency!
While your community serves as a network for disseminating information, increasing the value of your project, and increasing the visibility of your product, they are also your most excellent resource when it comes to enlisting pseudo-volunteer personnel. The people in your community are already invested, whether they have purchased some of your coins or they are spending time learning about the project, they are engaged for a reason. Use that to your advantage.
If you’re not familiar with how to run ambassador campaigns or just don’t have time, find someone within the community who is. We discovered that one of our coin holders has a ton of experience managing ambassador teams and had the desire to develop and manage in exchange for some extra $DIVI. He proposed a reward structure for any members of the ambassador program (later called the Divi Crew) and told us how much $DIVI he would need to incent those members and now, the Divi Crew has reached 50 members, and they are so efficient, people think they are robots!
Provide consistent updates
Technology takes a long time to bring to a production-ready state, and most people understand that, but that is not an excuse to ignore the community while the team is building. I have seen more projects turn sour based solely on the fact that they were not communicating with their coin holders consistently enough. In fact, if you are not providing at least monthly updates to your user base, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
More often than not, a positive development update, partnership announcement, or new use-case for the technology will result in an increase in community engagement and sometimes even an increase in coin price. Every update won’t be ripe with market-moving progress, but nevertheless, having these regular touch points with the people who are investing in your idea will make a world of difference when it comes to their confidence. Remember, there are literally thousands of other projects they can put their money into at any given moment.
Hold a weekly lottery
When we developed the Divi Project blockchain, we built in a weekly superblock that rewards 11 network participants who are staking at least 10 000 $DIVI. Ten winners receive 25,200 $DIVI and one lucky winner receives 252,000 $DIVI, for a total massive weekly airdrop of up to 504,000 $DIVI. Multiple members of our community have built tools that keep track of the next lottery, previous winners, and more. The excitement that has been generated around this simple feature is impossible to quantify, but each week our Telegram channel lights up with conversation; people hoping they’ll win the big prize, camaraderie among the community, and most importantly newcomers asking how they can enter the next drawing.
The lottery has become a welcome addition to our network and turned out to be a massively sufficient incentive for new and old users alike.
I could go on for pages about community and its importance when it comes to building a cryptocurrency project from the ground up. As a grassroots startup with little-to-no connections when we started, we have relied upon our community to take Divi Project from a coin no one would give a second look, to one that hundreds of people dedicate many hours of their lives to. We survived unexpected, retroactive KYC FUD, an incredibly flawed initial launch, a year-long bear market, and so much more all because we had an active community who believed in what we were doing no matter what adversity we faced along the way.
Sure, we have lost dedicated members throughout our short history, but those we have gained in return have multiplied our social assets by an enormous amount. ROI is hard to quantify when it comes to community, which is why it may be hard to address in a corporate environment. You can look at metrics like new followers on social media or new members in your Telegram or Discord, but at the end of the day, they are just numbers. The actual value lies in the effect those individuals have on your network overall and the lasting culture that is developed as a result of your efforts.
Please consider joining our community on Telegram and reach out to me there if you have any questions or comments about this article. I look forward to engaging with you.