Crypto is growing up. Over twelve years, it has developed from an esoteric side project to “thing your friend wouldn’t shut up about” in 2017 to a profound new mechanism for commerce and connection.
A necessary and expanding area of experimentation in this latter stage is richer community management. With many crypto projects aiming to achieve complete decentralization at maturity, crypto startups must begin cultivating direct and effective ways to communicate and collaborate with each audience.
This requires augmenting their presence in public networks with the control, organization and segmentation of a private network. And they must make the process seamless across the two channels.
What’s the problem?
Technologies like Discord and Telegram are great for getting online communities up and running: they are easy to use and the people are there. The issue is that they are noisy, linear (chat-style), hard to search, and often teeming with scammers. They also have no customization or branding. Due to their size, Discord and Telegram are excellent entry points into communities, but they lack the organization, protections, and personalization certain users will want as they increase their involvement.
If a user’s desires grow beyond lurking and meme-scrolling, and they want to get deeply involved, they’ll need safe spaces to ask questions, gain context beyond what’s available to the public, receive guidance on how best to work with their teammates, access unique opportunities, and share sensitive documents and data.
In theory, they can perform all of these actions in Discord, but is this the optimal method and experience? Many people would drop off at this point. This is when you need a safe space aligned with their interests.
An easy way to think about this process is through the funnel metaphor. Discord and Telegram are at the top of the funnel, where people get acquainted with projects. As they increase their involvement, they naturally move down the funnel into private networks that add control and personalized experience. This is the start of becoming loyal community leaders and advocates over time.
Who are the Users?
Types of users can vary across projects, but we typically find the following:
- Investors need information on areas like technology, roadmap, legal and financial questions, and need to build a relationship with the company to continue their support. For large public companies, Investor Relations is an entire department. Crypto companies must get serious about this “New IR” in order to stay top of mind.
- Contributors need safe spaces to ask questions beyond what’s available to the public, become part of a close community and get access to unique opportunities.
- Partners can vary, from influencers and promoters to node runners to developers, all of whom are key to the project and need a space to learn, grow and connect.
The core idea is to keep the “big conversation” going in the public networks and use the private for the exclusive content, connections and communication.
Why You Need a Private Community:
- Help members to find what they need. This is when an asynchronous system (as opposed to synchronous chat-based systems) that elegantly onboards users and highlights important content is important.
- Let users network with other members through a directory and find, join and create groups on the fly based on shared interests.
- Integrate with live or virtual events to help with content demand, pre and post-event networking, and archives/conversations around sessions.
- As the regulatory environment around crypto clarifies, it will be easier to ensure communities adhere to regulations related to corporate communications in private networks.
- Shield users from scammers, and maintain the needed security for user data. (It’s common for scammers to emulate team members on public networks and trick people into sharing information that compromises digital wallets.)
- Validate users’ identities and permission levels across the community through tools like SSO and authenticating with a wallet.
- Organize users by type (e.g., a speculator versus a product user) and cohort, and design personalized experience accordingly.
- Understand your member’s activities to create more targeted experiences and see the connection to downstream outcomes like retention.
- Support users by answering questions in a public, searchable space, and ensure they stay productive and satisfied.
How Do you Mix Public and Private Communities?
For communities interested in weaving together Discord with a private network like Mobilize, the process requires attention and time. Shifting communities away from Discord without proper preparation will create anxiety and confusion. To successfully onboard them to a private community, we have a few recommendations.
- Communicate why the private network is critical to your organization’s success. Be candid about the pain points you’re experiencing in Discord, and how the private community will save time, create order and improve productivity. All of which will increase the value of the project and community.
- Design a smooth onboarding flow, such as the following process:
- Begin messaging a month before the planned launch date. The more time you spend in the pre-launch phase, the better chance you have of reaching, convincing, and preparing everyone.
- If the segment of members you are pulling into a private network doesn’t already have a dedicated Role in Discord, create one for this group.
- Create two private channels in Discord: a read-only channel where you explain your plan to use Mobilize, what discussions you plan to have on it, and a link to sign up; and a dedicated support channel where you can help members who’ve experienced a problem or are unsure how to use the private network.
- Once you’re ready to field community members’ questions, you can give the appropriate community members access to the two channels via their Discord role.
- Send an initial message to the group pointing to the channels.
Combining the breadth and reach of the public networks with the control and organization of the private is the next big step towards the maturity and success of crypto communities.